Pretzel Rolls Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese and Chorizo

Recipe by Katie Lew of CookitFresh

Makes about 16 pretzel rolls

During my recent visit to Springside Cheese in Pueblo, I tasted their Pueblo Salsa Monterey Jack cheese, which is made with locally-grown Pueblo chilies. It was the most flavorful pepper jack cheese I had ever tasted, and I immediately thought of about ten different ways to use it. I have recently been obsessed with making stuffed pretzel rolls, mostly filling them with a combination of cheese and jams or preserves. But I’ve wanted to develop a heartier version of these pretzel rolls that would be filling enough to take on a spring picnic, and I knew the Springside Monterey Jack would be perfect in a savory stuffed pretzel. I added some sliced chorizo for a meaty, savory stuffing, but I think these would also be great with some sliced ham or turkey in place of the chorizo.

Ingredients:

1 packet active dry yeast (or 2 ¼ teaspoons)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups warm water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 cups flour, plus more for kneading the dough

2/3 cup baking soda

4 ounces hard chorizo sausage, cut into thin slices

6 ounces pepper jack cheese, cut into thin slices

1 egg, whisked together with 1 tablespoon water

coarse salt or kosher salt, for sprinkling on top

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the yeast, sugar and warm water. Let sit five minutes, or until yeast is foamy. Add the salt, butter and flour to the bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead, sprinkling in extra flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, but still soft and slightly sticky, about eight minutes. Place the dough in a lightly-buttered bowl, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and let sit in a warm place to rise. Allow to rise for one to two hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, cook the sliced chorizo in a skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook until it is browned and crispy, a couple of minutes per side. Drain the cooked sausage on paper towels and set aside.

Once the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450º F. Fill a large pan with water and stir in the baking soda; bring the water to a boil. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Split the risen dough into two balls. Place one ball on a lightly-floured surface and return the other to the covered bowl. Roll the dough out into ¼-inch thickness and, using a four-inch biscuit cutter or glass, cut out 16 circles. You may need to re-roll the dough once or twice to get enough circles. Repeat with second ball of dough. You should have between 30 and 32 circles of dough.

Place a slice of cheese on one of the circles of dough. Top the cheese with a few slices of the cooked chorizo and then with another slice of cheese. Cover the filled piece of dough with another dough circle and crimp the edges together with your fingers or a fork. Repeat with remaining circles of dough.

Place three of the filled rolls in the boiling water. Allow them to cook for 30 seconds; then, using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and place them on one of the lined baking sheets. Repeat with all the filled rolls. Brush the top of each roll with egg wash and then sprinkle with a pinch of the coarse salt.

Place the pans of rolls in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, switching the position of the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven when the rolls look golden brown and slightly cracked on top. If not eaten right away, any leftovers can be reheated by wrapping them in foil and heating in a 400º F oven for ten minutes.