If you’re like my family, the go-to meat for Christmas dinner is ham. We always seem to buy too much meat in the Constable household and this Christmas was no different. Apparently you don’t need a 13 pound ham for 4 people? Who knew? I’m not complaining though! Ham is my absolute favorite leftover meat. I think because it’s smoked, it really holds the flavor well, especially if you compare it to leftover turkey – not my favorite.
So what is one to do with 10 pounds of leftover ham? Sure, you can make 500 ham cheese sandwiches, but that gets boring. Enter these little ham and cheese bites! They are popable, portable and addicting. If you haven’t made a homemade soft pretzel before, don’t worry. It’s really easy. It takes about 3 hours to make these but almost all of it is inactive time waiting for the dough to rise. The jalapeño mustard included in this recipe adds just the right amount of sweetness and spice, so don’t skip it. I promise you won’t regret it!
Ham and Cheese Pretzel Bites
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
2 Tbs plus 1 tsp packed brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup warm water (110-115F)
1 cup warm milk (110-115F)
2 1/2 to 2 1/3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped ham
1/2 cup finely chopped sharp Cheddar
6 cups water
4 tsp baking soda
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1-2 Tbs coarse salt (I found a big box at Frys/Kroger)
Stir together yeast, 1 tsp brown sugar and warm water in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining 2 Tbs of brown sugar and warm milk until sugar dissolves.
Add 2 1/2 cups of flour and the milk/sugar mixture to the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Add in remaining flour as needed. The dough should be tacky, but not sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently needs a few times to form a smooth ball. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover for about 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size and small bubbles appear on the surface.
After the dough has doubled, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Lightly dust your hands and a rolling pin with flour. Roll each piece into a 12 inch rope. Working with one rope at a time, roll out the dough into a 12×4 inch rectangle. Press 1/4 of the ham and cheddar into the bottom third of the dough, working horizontally. Roll dough as tightly as possible to form another rope. Cut the rope into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a baking sheet lined in parchment paper. Repeat the steps with the remaining three pieces of dough. Let dough rest of another 30 minutes, uncovered.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400F. Also, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add in baking soda and reduce to a simmer. Cook pretzels in small batches, about 20 seconds each or until slightly puffed. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pretzels back to the baking sheets.
Bake the pretzels for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown. The cheese might start to ooze out, but that’s normal. After they are done baking, remove from oven and brushed with melted butter. Sprinkle the pretzels lightly with salt. Serve pretzels warm or at room temperature.
1/2 cup dijon mustard
1 jalapeño, seeded and quartered
1/4 cup honey
Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
Recipe from Pink Parsley