I don’t remember whose hair-brained idea it was to make pretzel dough and wrap it around sausages, but I believe the idea was born at a bar. “Hey, what about wrapping those snausages in pretzel dough?” Oh, hell yes. I’m on it!
This is not a fast recipe, but it makes a lot and these little suckers both freeze well and are nice to have on hand during the holidays when hungry people tend to generally mill around and hover like vultures over a lion’s kill.
The key here is to quarter your sausages for two reasons; 1. Encasing a whole sausage in pretzel is a lot of food and requires a knife and fork despite the fact that you really want to eat it with your hands. 2. Encasing a whole sausage in pretzel yields results that look like this:
No, I did not make it look like that on purpose, it was totally an accident I promise. (Tee hee hee!)
You also want to use smoked sausage (or at least pre cooked sausage) because they won’t be in the oven long enough to cook fresh sausage all the way through. If you don’t want a million of these things floating around, you can half the recipe, and the whole shebang will go a little faster.
My pretzel recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s, because I failed to read the whole recipe ahead of time to notice that it required 1 hour and 25 minutes of waiting/rising time. So I incorporated a quicker pretzel recipe that I’ve used before and adjusted the amounts accordingly (Martha’s made more), but feel free to go back to Martha’s recipe; the point is that you make soft pretzel dough and wrap it around the sausages. I also made some in little balls (because in case you haven’t noticed, we like jokes about balls around here) and they worked really well and are perfect little single-bite pop ’ems for parties.
I used a 3 ½ cup bread flour to 2 cup whole spelt flour mix. You can definitely mix in whole wheat or even whole rye or something, but make sure that at least 50% of your flour is either all purpose or bread flour, or you will need to let the dough rise for a lot longer. This recipe is not gluten-free. Not even close. If you really want to give your in laws a heart attack, feel free to brush some melted butter over these puppies once they are out of the oven.
- 2 cups warm water no hotter than 110 F
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or one whole packet
- 5-6 cups all purpose or bread flour plus more for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 8-10 smoked venison sausages quartered or cut into bite sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- 1 Large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
- kosher or other coarse salt
Pour the warm water into a bowl and dissolve the sugar in it. Then add the yeast and let it hang out for about 5 minutes, until it starts to get foamy. If it’s not bubbling, try sticking it in a warmer place. Add 1 cup of flour to the yeast and mix with a wooden spoon or lightly whisk until combined and not very lumpy. Add the salt and another 4 cups of flour and mix until all the flour is incorporated. Add another ½ cup of flour and knead for about a minute, until it is also all incorporated. If the dough is still wet and sticky, sprinkle on another ½ cup of flour. Transfer to a lightly floured board and knead about 10 times until the dough is smooth and elasticky.
Pour the oil in a bowl and swirl it around, coating the sides. Put the dough back in the bowl and turn it around so all sides have a little coating of oil on it. Cover with a towel and leave in a warm spot for about 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 425 and line two baking pans with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set them next to the place where you will make the pretzel bath. When the dough is ready, give it a punch and lightly knead (just once or twice).
Pinch off a small piece of dough (about the size you’d use of chocolate chip cookie dough to make a cookie witand roll into about a 8-10 inch rope on a floured surface. Wrap each sausage quarter in a spiral with the dough, making sure each end of dough sticks to another strip of dough so it doesn't fall apart in the bath. If you are making sausage ball bites, wrap each bite in some dough and roll it in your hands to make it a little ball. These guys need to rise again, but they start to puff up after just about 5 – 10 minutes so you can start boiling the first ones after you’ve finished wrapping all of them. If you have extra dough left, feel free to make just a pretzel or throw the rest of the dough away, or do whatever you want with it, I don’t judge. (Untrue story, I totally judge.)
Fill a large pot with about 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil and add the baking soda. Keep the water at a simmer and add 3-4 pretzel sausages at a time and boil for about a minute (they should start to float when done). Using a slotted spoon remove to the baking sheet. Continue until they are all bathed.
Brush the pretzels with the egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. Serve with mustard. Pretzels will keep for about 2 days, but don’t cover them or else they’ll get all soggy. You can also freeze them once they’ve cooled.