My most looked-forward-to appetizer at any casual party is pigs in a blanket. I expect to see them at least three times a year — Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve and whatever Super Bowl party I attend. If they’re missing, I’ll have something to say about it. These petite bites blend sweet, buttery, wrapped-in-a-pressurised-cardboard-canister dough and a salty, smokey cocktail weenie in one dip-able morsel. Also, you can roll up about 40 of them for under $15, making them perfect for guests and hosts alike. It’s hard to improve on something flawless, so instead, I’d like to offer you a few new spins for your classic little piggies.
Scallion Pain d’Epi-tizer
This is a stylistic love-child of French pain d’epin (wheat stalk bread) and Asian scallion hot dog buns, boasting all the flavour of our American sausage sweetheart. The shape of this bun is perfect to tear apart and dunk in the nearest sauce or, if you have a big heart, share with someone who’s worth it. The key to an appealing wheat stalk shape is to slice your dough-wrapped dog at an angle.
Ingredients (Yield: 6 servings):
- 6 hot dogs
- 1 230 g tube of crescent roll dough (puff pastry works as an alternative)
- Egg wash
- 1 spring onion (chopped)
Preheat your oven to 190°C.
Unfurl the crescent roll dough on your work surface. If you’re working with perforated triangles, try to smoosh the dotted-lines closed without shrinking the overall size of the dough. Cut down the centre of the dough shortways so you end up with two smaller rectangles. A regular full hot dog will sit nicely along the edge with a little overhanging dough on either end.
Make a giant pig in a blanket — roll the dough tightly around the hot dog until it meets the other side. Slice the dough there and seal it. Repeat with the next hot dog. If you roll tightly, you will get 3 dogs per side, for a total of 6.
Put the wrapped hot dogs on a parchment-lined baking tray. At an angle, slice into each hot dog five or six times, from end to end. Do not go all the way through! Slice down just far enough to cut the hot dog but not the dough at the bottom.
Starting at one end, move the hot dog segment over to one side, laying the cut side up slightly. Alternating side to side, do this to each segment. You can even make a little point with the dough at the top of each segment so it looks more like pain d’epi.
Egg wash the surface, dough, and dog, and sprinkle with chopped spring onion.
Bake at 190°C for 15 minutes.
Everything Bagel Little Smokies
You can absolutely bake these as individual buns, but I think they make an excellent pull-apart bread. Bakers out there, you’re welcome to make your own pizza dough, but I like a pre-made wheat pizza dough in a bag (and, in this case, used an herb-flecked dough from Trader Joe’s). Pack as much of the cream cheese filling as you can fit into each segment, because these babies will puff. If you shape them in a circle, it kinda looks like a giant bagel, but more importantly, there’s a space in the middle for that bowl of guac. Or cheese dip. Or ranch and carrots. Or Buffalo dip.
Ingredients (Yield: 8 buns):
- 1 450 g pre-made pizza dough
- ½ package of cream cheese
- 1 tablespoon of everything bagel seasoning + extra for sprinkling
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 1 spring onion (chopped)
- 8-16 little smokies
- Egg wash
Preheat your oven to 220°C. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet or grease and line a cake pan with parchment.
Mix the cream cheese, bagel seasoning, salt, and chopped spring onion in a small bowl. Set aside.
Cut the little smokies in half. Set aside.
Working with the cold pizza dough (not proofed yet; we’re doing that later), pull the dough into a rough rectangular shape. Divide your dough into 8 even pieces. Press each piece out into a flat disk approximately four inches across.
Put two teaspoons of the cream cheese mixture into the centre, and two or three little smokie halves on top of the cream cheese mixture. Lift up the edges to meet over the filling like a little purse. Pinch and seal the edges. Repeat for all of the dough pieces. Put the buns seam side down in your cast iron skillet.
Loosely cover and let proof for 30 minutes.
When ready, egg wash the tops and sprinkle with more everything bagel seasoning.
Bake 220°C for 25 minutes.
Little Smokie Chilli Buckets
I am passionate about chilli dogs. I believe that there should be a lever that releases hot chilli right next to the ketchup and mustard at baseball stadium concession stands. I’m unlikely to realised this dream, so I took matters into my own hands with this party-friendly version. Feel free to top up on the chilli or cheese at the end; the fillings settle down a bit in the oven.
Ingredients (Yield: 12 chilli buckets):
- 12 pack King’s Hawaiian rolls
- ¾ -1 cup shredded cheddar
- ½ can of chilli
- 12 little smokies (cut in half)
Preheat your oven to 175°C.
Remove the rolls from their packaging and set them, still joined, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a paring knife, cut the centre out of each roll leaving a ¼-inch wall on each side and ¼-inch of bread at the base. If you you need to take out just a tad more from the bottom, use a fork to scrape away with more control. If you you remove too much, just take some discarded scraps and press it into the bottom. (Save leftover roll centres for bread crumbs or bread pudding.)
Using about a ¼ cup total, sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheddar into the bottoms of each bucket. Add two teaspoons of chilli to each hole, then press two little smokie halves into each roll.
If the bucket looks full to the rim, top with the remaining shredded cheese. If there is space still, feel free to tuck in another sausage half or some extra chilli. Finish by pressing shredded cheese on top of each roll. Bake at 175°C for 15 minutes.
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