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Cooking

Updating Pigs in a Blanket

Call them “haute dogs” -- a kids’ favorite, made over for sophisticated tastes but still a lot of fun to eat.

By Adam Ried
November 15, 2009

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For most of my life, I assumed certain truths about pigs in a blanket to be self-evident and steadfast: First, they are, without question, hot dogs wrapped in a crust. Second, they are kid food. Then, in terrible twin blows to the reassuring order of my world, I learned that neither conviction was universal. In conversation, a friend referred to breakfast sausage wrapped in a pancake as “pigs in a blanket.” Not long after, I saw a New York Times article about the savory version’s popularity at swanky cocktail parties. Who knew?

With my horizons newly expanded (except for the pancake thing), I’ve decided to run with the concept. Along the way I learned to use fully cooked sausages, as opposed to fresh. Fresh ones, even when you cook them before wrapping, contain enough moisture to make the dough soggy. Also, if your package of sausages contains five rather than four, go ahead and roll the dough a little longer and thinner to accommodate the extra sausage -- I scaled the recipes for that possibility. Last, the baked dough wrapper is delicate, so if you choose to cut the pigs in a blanket into pieces, use a serrated knife to minimize the chances of crumbling.

Caraway and Onion Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 4

1cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough

1½teaspoons baking powder

2½ teaspoons lightly toasted caraway seeds, plus extra for sprinkling

1½tablespoons onion powder

1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly ½-inch cubes

1/3 cup cold buttermilk

4 weisswurst, fully cooked Sheboygan-style bratwurst or chicken sausages, or hot dogs, about 4½ inches long

1 egg yolk

Set oven rack in middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner, and set aside.

In a food processor, process the 1 cup flour, baking powder, 2½ teaspoons caraway seeds, onion powder, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until well blended. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the buttermilk and pulse until dough just comes together into moist pebble-sized pieces or a single mass.

Generously flour a work surface, then knead the dough 3 or 4 times, just until it is uniform and cohesive. Sprinkle a bit more flour, if necessary, and roll dough into a rectangle roughly 4 by 18 inches; it should be 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Trim edges straight and cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces.

Working one at a time, roll a sausage or hot dog tightly in a rec-tangle of dough (the ends should extend just past the edges of the dough -- trim dough, if necessary) and pinch along the seam to fasten. Repeat with the other sausages or hot dogs and place them seam side down on the baking sheet with about 2 inches between them. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water, then brush the top and sides of each dough blanket with the yolk mixture and sprinkle a few caraway seeds over each. Bake until dough is golden, about 17 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking time. Serve at once.

Dough Variations

Herb and Garlic Pigs in a Blanket Follow the recipe for Caraway and Onion Pigs in a Blanket, decreasing the salt to ¼ teaspoon, substituting 1½ tablespoons minced mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil, dill, thyme, sage, and rosemary, for the caraway seeds, onion powder, and nutmeg, and adding 2 minced or grated cloves garlic along with the buttermilk. (I like to use sun-dried-tomato-flavored chicken sausages with this dough.)

Maple and Black Pepper Pigs in a Blanket Follow the recipe for Caraway and Onion Pigs in a Blanket, substituting 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper for the caraway seeds, onion powder, and nutmeg, and using 3 tablespoons of maple syrup with just 2 tablespoons of buttermilk. Bake for about 16 minutes. (I like to use apple or jalapeno-flavored chicken sausages with this dough.)

Chili, Cheese, and Cornmeal Pigs in a Blanket

Makes 4

1/3 cup cornmeal, plus extra for dusting

2/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough

1½teaspoons baking powder

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly ½-inch cubes

1 cup coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2½ ounces)

1/3 cup cold buttermilk

1 tablespoon chili powder

4 hot dogs or fully cooked chicken sausages, about 4½ inches long

1 egg yolk

Set the oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner, dust very lightly with cornmeal, and set aside.

In a food processor, process the 1/3 cup cornmeal, 2/3 cup flour, baking powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste until well blended. Add the butter and cheese and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. In a measuring cup, mix the buttermilk and chili powder to blend; add it to the flour mixture and pulse until dough just comes together into moist pebble-sized pieces or a single mass.

Generously flour a clean work surface and knead the dough 3 or 4 times, just until it is uniform and cohesive. Sprinkle a bit more flour, if necessary, and roll dough into a rectangle roughly 4 by 18 inches; it should be 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Trim edges straight and cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces.

Working one at a time, roll a hot dog or sausage tightly in a rectangle of dough (the ends should extend just past the edges of the dough -- trim dough if necessary) and pinch along the seam to fasten. Repeat with the other hot dogs or sausages, and place them seam side down on the baking sheet with about 2 inches between them. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk with 1 teaspoon of water, then brush the top and sides of each dough blanket with the yolk mixture. Bake until dough is golden, about 17 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking time. Serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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