Patty Melt Pretzel Buns recipe and cookbook review: Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles

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Are you a total meat lover? Hardcore Carnivore is an absolutely outstanding celebration of all things meat. Jess Pryles has a great BBQ reputation, but this book is not isolated to, nor emphasizes, BBQ. She approaches each dish individually, and cooks it by whichever method she prefers for that recipe – frying, roasting, baking, grilling, or smoking. The bulk of the book is meat dishes, just as you’d expect, and those are amazing, but don’t underestimate the supporting side dishes she’s got at the end. We loved those, too. This is a delicious book! I’m having trouble putting it down.

She grew up in Australia and moved to Texas, and both come strongly through the recipes. I was an exchange student in Australia in high school and moved to Texas 11 years ago, so this is particularly fun for me. I still miss the chicken salt flavored french fries! Jess, if you read this, I hope you put those in your next book. You know, or message me. That totally works, too. ;D

I rarely have trouble deciding which recipe to ask for, but just couldn’t make up my mind this time, so I asked the publisher for any one of my three favorites. Thank you so much to Agate Surrey for letting me share the Patty Melt Pretzel Buns with you! If you pick up the book, you need to make the Australian sausage rolls and steakhouse burger right away too. I’ll walk you through the rest of the book after the recipe.


13wmPATTY MELT PRETZEL BUNS

MAKES 12–14

The patty melt is a nostalgic American favorite. Simply, it’s a double cheeseburger in sandwich form, piled high with caramelized onions and traditionally served on rye bread. I reinterpreted these classic flavors into a soft pretzel bun, which is pulled open to reveal a stuffing of meaty, cheesy goodness.

PRETZEL DOUGH
9 fl oz (1 cup/250 ml) milk
4 fl oz (½ cup/125 ml) water
2 tablespoons honey
1½ oz (¼ cup, lightly packed/45 g) light brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant dry yeast
1 lb (3 cups/450 g) all-purpose flour
5½ oz (1 cup/150 g) bread (strong) flour
2 fl oz (¼ cup/60 ml) melted butter
3¾ oz (½ cup/110 g) baking soda

FILLING
2 tablespoons olive oil
14 oz (400 g) ground beef
1 onion, diced
2 fl oz (¼ cup/60 ml) ketchup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
kosher salt
11 oz (2½ cups/310 g) grated mozzarella cheese

METHOD
To make the pretzel dough, combine the milk, water, honey and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, then pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Sprinkle in the yeast and set it aside to bloom for 10–15 minutes.

Add both flours and the melted butter to the yeast mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, mix for 5–7 minutes, until the dough comes together in a large ball.

Place the dough on a floured board or silicone mat. Divide the dough into 12–14 even pieces, rolling each piece into a ball shape. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof for 15 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll out each ball into a disc about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter and spread in a single layer on a floured work surface or large mat. Cover again with a damp cloth and leave to proof for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, heat half the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the beef and brown in batches, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up the lumps. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan and brown the onion, then return the meat to the pan. Add the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, honey, pepper and season with salt, to taste. Cook for 10–15 minutes, until the liquid reduces and thickens.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Place a large saucepan of water on the stove to boil.

After the final proof on the dough has completed, put one disc on a board, spoon a tablespoon of the beef mixture into the middle of the disc, then top with a generous spoonful of mozzarella. Gather the sides of the disc at the top and pinch them together, making sure they are sealed well. Place the formed bun on the tray and cover with another damp cloth.

Repeat the process until all the buns have been created. If the unfilled dough discs seem to be getting dry, spritz them with a light mist of water.

11wmMaking sure the saucepan of water is at a rolling boil, tip in the baking soda, then drop three or four buns in the water. Cook for 15 seconds per side, turning with a mesh strainer or spatula. Make sure you cook only a few buns at a time, to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once boiled, remove the buns using a mesh strainer and return to the tray. Repeat until all the buns have been boiled, then transfer the tray to the oven and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the buns are a dark brown color. Serve while warm.12wm

Reprinted with permission from Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles, Agate Surrey, 2018.

Continuing on with the rest of the book…

My thoughts and pics of the dishes we tried:
1) The Steakhouse Burger – p 154 (grilled) with Onion Jam – p 194. Amazing burger! Go make this one! The onion jam has an amazing balance of savoriness, acidity, sweetness, and a whisper of heat. That paired with the tangy blue cheese make this char-grilled burger just so great.1wm
2) Pickle-Brined Chicken Nuggets – p 48 (fried) with Buffalo Dipping Sauce – p 202. These are outstanding! If you love chicken fingers and you love fried pickles, you’re going to love these! I wish I’d found this recipe a long time ago! The sauce is really nice, too. You only need a half batch of the sauce.2wm
3) Char Siu Skewers – p 98 (grilled). These were absolutely delicious! The marinade’s perfect. 3wm
4) Sage and Macadamia Sausage Rolls – p 109 (baked). I was an exchange student in Australia in high school. Kids used to eat sausage rolls and meat pies out on the playground at lunch every day. This kicked-up version of hers brought me right back there, and hers are fantastic and easy to boot!4wm
5-6) Smoked Lamb Shoulder – p 128. She has you slow smoke this just like you would a pork shoulder. The seasoning’s really simple just like a Texas brisket. I love lamb. My kids aren’t big lamb fans, but I hadn’t thought of smoking it before. They liked this. The smoking really tames the gaminess of lamb. Great idea. –My butcher didn’t have lamb shoulder in one nice big hunk like they do pork shoulder, so I just bought the equivalent weight in lamb shoulder that they’d cut. Not ideal, but it worked just fine.
7) Jalapeno Cornbread – p 189. She suggested this as the accompaniment for the lamb. The creamed corn gives it a great texture and the jalapeno gives it a flavor pop. Hers only has a touch of sugar.

8) Chicken Fried Steak – p 150 (fried). She’s calls this Texas schnitzel and that cracked me up because it’s so right. Nice chicken fried steak and gravy. I like the extra milk drips in the dry dredge to make those extra crags. 8wm
9-10) Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese – p 179. This is great mac and cheese. Her cheese selections are spot on.

11-13) Patty Melt Pretzel Buns – p 158 (boiled and baked). We loved these! They’re real deal pretzels with a flavor-blasted beef, onion, and mozzarella filling. There’s a lot more filling than needed for the recipe. I used 2 instead of the 1 Tablespoon called for and they were still very easy to close and I had leftover filling.

14) Pollo Poppers – p 51 (baked). Jalapeno poppers filled with chicken, bacon, and cheese. So good!14wm

I’ll update this as I play in the book more!

Some others I have flagged to try: Pollo Poppers – p 51 (baked) * Grilled Adobo Chicken – p 57 * Cajun Brick Yardbird – p 61 (grilled) * Venison Chili – p 77 (stovetop) * Duck Fat Hummus with Grilled Flatbreads – p 80 * BLT Salad with Bacon-Fried Croutons – p 90 (stovetop) * Blue Cheese, Date, and Bacon Bites – p 94 (Roasted) * Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwiches – p 95 * Seared (Pork) Loin with Sour Cherry Chutney – p 105 (roasted) * Carnitas – p 112 (stovetop and broiler) * Home-made bacon – p 117 (cured and smoked) * Nekkid Sausages with Mint and Pistachio – p 124 (grilled) * Petite Tender with Chimichurri – p 143 (grilled) * The Perfect Steak – p 147 (grilled) * Rice and Gravy – p 153 (slow simmered) * Beef Hand Pies – p 163 (baked) * Tangy Vinegar Slaw – p 174 * Smoked Garlic Potato Salad – p 175 * Beer-Battered Onion Rings – p 176 * Giant One-Pan Hashbrowns – p 178 * Cedar-Planked Brie with Fig Walnut Paste – p 182 * Fat-Roasted Potatoes – p 190

*I received a copy to explore and share my thoughts.

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