Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Have Knots

I don’t know if you have ever heard of garlic knots, but they are wonderful.  They blow “cheesy breadsticks” out of the water.  Or rather they make cement shoes for cheesy breadsticks and sink them in the bottom of a remote lake in New Jersey.  Yes, garlic knots have the mafia toughness of any decent snack or side dish in the tri-state area. 
Please let me explain my love for garlic knots. 

I am a firm believer in the after-school snack.  I used to eat a bowl of cereal every day upon returning from school when I was young.  Then when friends began driving, we were able to expand our dining options beyond the family kitchen – and I discovered the garlic knot.  My friends and I would visit various pizza places and this was always my menu item of choice.  Others got slices of pizza or even a shake or something, but I preferred a small order of garlic knots.
They are exactly what you are imagining right now.  Garlic + Something tied in a knot = boom garlic knot.  It’s like an Italian pretzel but a little more bad-ass. And they are amazingly easy to make at home.  Plus anytime you add something to a dinner that has been tossed in garlic butter, I think the entire meal gets elevated to a whole other level: French fries tossed with garlic and butter – pommes frites.  Need I say more?
It helps to serve garlic knots warm and covered in an unhealthy amount of butter and garlic.  And a side bowl of marinara sauce doesn’t hurt either.  You can make these with any kind of pizza dough you prefer, although I like fresh dough.  So the next time you make homemade pizza, pinch off a bit of dough and make a few garlic knots.  You won’t be disappointed.

Garlic Knots
This dough recipe is for one large pizza, so it will make about 12 - 16 garlic knots.  You can always make some pizza and save a little of the dough for the knots, or have a feast of garlic knots one night.

1 package yeast
1 c warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tb. Olive Oil, divided
2 ½ c flour
1 egg, beaten
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ c butter
Fresh chopped parsley, optional
Salt to taste

To make the dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of a large stand mixer.  After about 5 minutes, when the mixture is a bit frothy, stir in sugar, salt and 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Mix in the flour until well incorporated.  Move dough onto a lightly floured surface and work into a ball.  Clean out the bowl and then oil with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Place the dough back in the bowl, and toss to coat in oil.  Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 425°.  Punch down the dough and divide into 4 pieces.  Take each piece and divide into 3 or 4 pieces.  Each piece should be the size of 1 ½ golf balls (I was going to say paddle ball from the game you play at the beach, but most people won’t get that reference).  Roll into a log and then tie into a knot, similar to making a pretzel, but pull the ends so that there is no gap.

Place onto a greased cookie sheet, and repeat with the remaining dough.  Brush each knot with beaten egg.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Meanwhile melt butter in a sauce pan over medium -low heat, add in the garlic and a generous pinch of salt.  Once the garlic knots are done baking, place them in a large bowl, and drizzle the garlic butter mixture over them, tossing to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and parsley, and serve immediately.

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