It’s December!!! I can’t believe another year is ending. It’s been a while since I’ve shared something savory on this blog, so I thought I’d post a recipe for these delicious pretzel hand pies that are stuffed with a cheesy bacon and veggie filling.
I grew up eating a lot of freezer burritos and Hot Pockets on school mornings, and these hand pies remind me of those, but merged with buttery soft pretzels. I love hand pies because they’re like perfectly packaged, portable little meals that you can hold in one hand and take with you to eat anywhere– like sandwiches, but fancier. These hand pies make a great breakfast or lunch on the go and can be made and stored in advance.
The filling inside of these is a melty, cheesy blend of crispy bacon, sauteed mushrooms, leeks, garlic, and caramelized onions. I used Muenster cheese because it melts very smoothly and I like the bit of creamy, mild flavor it adds, but you can use any cheese you think works well.
Besides stuffing pretzel hand pies, you can use this filling for virtually anything– wrap it inside of puff pastry, put it on pizza, stir it into pasta, spread it inside of sandwiches, or even dip chips in it.
The recipe might look long and daunting, but don’t be afraid to give it a try! These are actually quite simple and fun to make, plus there are few things more satisfying than baking your own bread from scratch. With winter weather quickly approaching, you’ll want to get these into your oven and warm up your home with the smell of cheesy, salty bacon and onions and fresh baked pretzels.
Cheesy Mushroom, Bacon, and Leek Pretzel Hand Pies – yields 6 hand pies
– 4 slices of bacon, chopped
– 1 clove of garlic, minced
– 1/4 onion, sliced thinly
– 4 white mushrooms, chopped
– 1 cup chopped leeks
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1 cup shredded Muenster cheese (or other cheese of choice)
– salt and pepper, to taste
Dough: (adapted from Food Network; Alton Brown)
– 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
– 1 cup warm water
– 4 tsp. melted unsalted butter
– 1 tsp. salt
– 2 tsp. sugar
– 5 cups water
– 1/2 cup baking soda
– 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp. water
– pretzel salt, as needed
1. Prepare the filling: place the chopped bacon into a pan over medium heat and cook it until the fat comes out and the bacon is noticeably cooked but not yet starting to crisp.
2. Add in the minced garlic and sliced onion, and saute them in the bacon fat with the bacon until the onions are translucent and very slightly beginning to turn light golden. Then add in the chopped mushrooms and leeks and continue to saute until they are completely tender, the onions are caramelized (more golden in color), and the bacon is crispy.
3. Remove the contents from the pan into a separate bowl. Melt the butter over medium heat in the now empty pan (you do not need to wash it in between!), and then stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, mixing continuously, until the mixture (roux) bubbles and turns golden. If there’s any bacon residue in the bottom of the pan, use this time to scrape it off and into the roux for added flavor.
4. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to cook while whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
5. Turn off the heat, and incorporate the shredded cheese until it completely melts into the sauce. Stir in the sauteed bacon and vegetables, and add salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to cool completely.
6. Prepare the dough: Combine the flour, instant yeast, warm water, melted butter, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl, and knead it until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Cover the dough in the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth, and allow it to rest and rise in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.
7. Transfer the risen dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Divide it into 6 equal portions, and roll out each piece into a circle roughly 5 inches in diameter and slightly under 1/4-inch thick.
8. Evenly distribute the filling among the dough rounds, pressing it down flatly on one half of the circle while leaving space at the edges. Fold each circle of dough in half to cover the filling, and press the edges together to seal it in. Press the end of a fork into the dough along the edges to “crimp” it. Let the hand pies sit, covered, for 20 minutes for the dough to rest and rise slightly. Meanwhile, you can preheat the oven to 450°F.
9. In a pot, combine the 5 cups of water with the baking soda and bring it to a simmer. Using a pot skimmer, gently lower each hand pie into the simmering water for about 20 seconds on each side, then transfer it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
10. Use a toothpick or the tip of a knife to poke 2 to 3 small holes into the top-facing side of each hand pie, then brush the top with the egg yolk-water mixture and sprinkle it lightly with pretzel salt. Bake the hand pies in the preheated oven at 450°F for about 10 minutes, until the outsides are deep golden brown. Serve while warm.
Extra Note: This hand pie filling is also excellent for mixing with pasta! If you want to use it in a pasta dish, simply increase the milk to 3/4 cup to make the cheese sauce slightly thinner and creamier.