Saturday, December 14, 2013

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Pockets with Cranberry Honey Mustard andSteamed Broccoli

Our weekly menu creation is something I always look forward to. It gives me the ability to use the new ideas that I have pinned, gawked, or just created in my mind. Sometimes, if I'm feeling nice, I'll even ask for Cal's input. Usually, he'll "Iron Chef" me and give me one ingredient to star all week. This week, more in a effort to save money this close to Christmas, he gave me ham. I started thinking... Cordon Bleu, Eggs Benedict, Ham and Potato Soup, Ham and Broccoli Alfredo.... And then I remembered the bacon and pretzel wrapped cheese dogs I had made a few months ago... And how we had discussed using other combinations. Ham and cheddar was a classic and my original idea was a calzone, but pretzel dough is just so much tastier!

Growing up in "Amish country" PA, pretzels were more like a food group than a snack. I once read that the average American eats a pound of pretzels a year. Sadly, I have to say, we used to go through a "pounder" bag of pretzels a week as a family of four. Thank you Snyders of Hanover and Auntie Anne's. Now that I have my own family, we still eat more than a pound a year, but definitely eat less than the pound a week. 

The good news is, pretzels really aren't that bad for you. So, wrapping my dinner in one didn't really phase me in the least. So, here goes...

This one makes 2 with leftover pretzel dough.

Ham and Cheddar Pretzel Pockets

3/4 cup water (110-115 degrees)
1/2 T sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups flour
2 T unsalted butter, melted
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
Melted butter or egg wash 
Kosher salt for sprinkling

1/4 lb ham, julienned
1/2 cup cheddar, shredded

In the bowl of a stand mixer or medium sized bowl, add water, sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve. Sprinkle yeast on top and let rest 5 minutes or until foamy. While waiting, melt butter and let cool slightly. When yeast is ready, add butter. Mix with a dough hook or spatula, gradually adding flour until tight dough is formed. Let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size.

** if your house is generally cool, heat your oven to warm, turn it off, wait 10 minutes, then place the bowl in the oven for it to rise**

While waiting, julienne your ham. You can use sliced, deli ham if you have it available, but to me, fresh ham tastes so much better!

When your dough is ready, roll it out on a lightly floured surface. You can make them as small or as large as desired, but I like mine to be about the 1/3 of a size of a small calzone. I keep them about 1/4" thick. Just thick enough to hold everything in without being too thick to be a doughy bite. Cut out 2 pieces of dough (shape is not important) Place half the cheese in the center of one piece, top with half the ham. Using a bit of water, wet the outer edge of the dough, all the way around. Fold over, sealing tight. Cut off excess dough.

Bring 10 cups water to a boil. Add baking soda. Boil each pocket for 30 seconds. Place on greased cookie sheet. Brush with egg wash or butter (I prefer egg), sprinkle with salt and bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

For the mustard, I combined 1/4 cup of yellow mustard, 2 T whole grain mustard, 1 T honey and 1/4 cup cranberry sauce. Let chill while cooking. 

These ring in around 370 calories per pocket. Mind you this will depend on the amount of dough used. 1 T mustard comes in at 21 calories. I served these with steamed broccoli on the side for a total right around 400 calories.