PJP Recipes: Pimento Cheese Crab Pretzel

Growing up in the South, summertime often meant a chance to escape to the beach. This in turn meant getting to stuff ourselves silly with all of the fresh seafood that wasn’t as readily available further inland.  A family favorite and a must-have item in any seafood feast was the blue crab.  Years down the road, I still prefer crab to its nobler, pricier cousin: the lobster.

I’m also a huge fan of savory pastry and bread.  Croissant, baguette, bagels, and, nearing the top of my carbo-loaded list: the soft pretzel.  So imagine my surprise, my excitement, nay, my bliss, when I learned of the culinary Frankenstein that is the Maryland Crab Pretzel.  Broiled crab dip on top of a fresh pretzel? I’m in.

Living in Maine, there’s a definite lack of crab pretzels readily available. So I hacked a recipe together for home cooks. While not a “standard” version of the recipe, it’s definitely something I would serve to guests, and may or may not have consumed an entire batch of.

Note: While most commercial soft pretzels use culinary lye as a proofing liquid, this recipe uses baking soda. This will produce a passable pretzel without the potential of releasing a caustic mess in your kitchen.

The Pretzel

  • 1 standard packet active dry yeast, about 2 1/4 tsp
  • 1 C warm water
  • 1 Tbl unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 Tbl maple syrup
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 C all-purpose flour + up to 3/4 cup more if needed

 

  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Tbl baking soda
  • 1/2C maple syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbl milk
  • 1 Tbl coarse salt, for topping

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine yeast with warm water and 1 Tbl maple syrup in bowl.  Yeast is activated once it begins to become frothy.
  3. Add flour one cup at a time, mixing by hand, until dough forms and is no longer sticky. Knead by hand for ten minutes, turning regularly, until dough is springy when prodded. Return to bowl, top with tea towel or plastic wrap, and rest for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine 2 C water, 1/2 C maple syrup, and 4 Tbl baking soda in sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to just below a simmer.
  5. Cut dough into 6 evenly-sized pieces, and roll each out into a long rope, about 20in in length. 6. Watch about 30 minutes of videos on YouTube of people really good at making pretzels, resign yourself to the fact that you’ll never be that good, then cobble together something that is vaguely pretzel-shaped.
  6. Place pretzels into soda bath, and poach for about 1 minute each (I poached them individually), then arrange on prepared baking sheet. Pretzels should puff-up substantially while poaching.
  7. Whisk together egg yolks and milk, and brush over top of pretzels. Top with coarse kosher salt.
  8. Place in oven for 8 – 9 minutes, or until dark golden brown.

Crab Spread

  • 8oz fresh crabmeat (I used Maine Peekytoe crab, but blue crab would be great, too)
  • 1 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C Duke’s Mayonaise, or brown butter aioli recipe from our “Maine Lobster Roll” post
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded and fine diced
  • 1 4oz jar diced pimentos
  • 1 tsp chili vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbl black pepper

Mix all ingredients except crab until evenly distributed, then add crab and gently mix. Further season to taste.

And the final act…Crab Pretzel

Top soft pretzel with pimento crab spread.  Broil on high until cheese lightly caramelized.

Enjoy!

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Ryan Lamon

Ryan Lamon

Professional Chef/Restaurateur and Recipe Writer/Tester

Ryan, a second generation Georgia pitmaster, began his career at his father’s restaurant, Frank’s Real Pit BBQ in Hoschton, GA. After working at several restaurants in Georgia, Ryan moved to New York City where he cooked at the original Fatty Crab under James Beard Award-winning chef Zak Pelaccio. He later he earned a Bon Appetit Best New Restaurants nod in 2012 as the opening chef de cuisine of Plum Alley in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2013, Ryan started Peaches’ Smokehouse & Southern Kitchen, a gourmet BBQ and Southern food truck, and followed it up with Poppy+Rose, a brick-and-mortar in downtown LA a year later. He is currently operating a small consulting firm, Smoke and Vinegar Co.