In the section on entertaining in Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites: A Cookbook, one of his suggestions is to always keep some frozen pigs in a blanket on hand because from his experience, no matter how fancy the affair everyone will come clamoring for some meat in puff pastry. It’s a fine idea, and one I’ll probably keep in mind for our next New Year’s Eve celebration, but if I’m entertaining a smaller group of people I want to do something a little more special.
Enter Jen Pelker’s pigs in a blanket with black pepper pastry. I came across this recipe initially as part of an article in Food and Wine about her San Francisco champagne bar The Riddler. I was totally drawn to her philosophy of pairing bubbles with snack foods, and I really liked that she took the extra step to make them a little more interesting, from adding everything bagel seasoning to popcorn (on my list to make) to topping tater-tot waffles with mustard and prosciutto (something that’s making me seriously consider getting a waffle iron). While normally I’m not a big pigs in a blanket aficionado, I found myself drawn to her modified take on them in that she makes a simple glaze of brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, and a bit of salt and then coats puff pastry triangles with them and some black pepper before wrapping up the bits of hot dog, coating them with an egg wash, and finishing them with more pepper.
When we recently hosted a close friend for an evening of snacks, libations, and a little exploration around Riverside and Fed Hill I decided it was the perfect time to take this recipe for a spin…but then I decided to complicate matters by making my own pastry dough. Mimi Thorisson has a pretty genius little mushroom tartlet recipe in French Country Cooking in which you make the tart dough from scratch, and since it was surprisingly easy to bring it together the first time I tried it, I figured I’d halve that recipe and see if it would work in this application. (I should have bought a box of backup pastry just in case, but maybe not having that safety net helped me focus on getting the recipe correct.) It wasn’t a completely perfect division–how do you halve an egg?–but they looked good, got sufficiently puffy, and more importantly tasted great.
We’re entertaining much of Michael’s family over the course of the holiday weekend and I may decide to whip these up one more time; then again, I might just make a batch or two to freeze and save for my next big party .
Pigs in a blanket with black pepper pastry
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 recipe of Tartlet dough (recipe to follow)
Coarsely ground black pepper
5 long (about 8 inch) hot dogs, cut into thirds (use the best quality you can find)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
Combine the butter, sugar, and honey into a small saucepan over medium heat until melted, and then remove from heat and whisk in the mustard; let the glaze cool completely.
On a lightly floured surface, start rolling out the pastry dough to about 1/4-inch thickness and cut out rectangles to turn into triangles. (You’ll get eight rectangles the first time around; collect the scraps to get another sheet of seven triangles for the rest of the hot dogs.) On the lined baking sheet, place each triangle down and brush each with the glaze and then top with some of the ground pepper. Roll up each hot dog, arrange on the baking sheet, and brush each with the egg wash and then top with more of the ground black pepper. Repeat with remaining dough and hot dogs and then place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes. Reserve the rest of the glaze for dipping.
Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown and fluffy, and serve immediately. Preferably with something bubbly.
Tartlet Dough – Halved
Adapted from Mimi Thorisson’s French Country Cooking
- 1 cup flour
- 4 1/2 tablespoons very cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ice cold water (tip: fill a ramekin with ice and pour water over it)
In a medium to large bowl, whisk the flour and salt and slowly incorporate each cube of butter until the mixture is crumbly. Make a well in the center of the bowl and add the egg and water, and then using your hands start forming the dough until it becomes a firm ball. Wrap with plastic wrap for at least an hour before using.