From the posts on this blog, it’s easy to assume that I cook healthy all of the time and for the most part, it’s true. Most of the unhealthy food I consume comes from takeout joints and restaurant visits but from time to time I’ll whip up an indulgent appetizer or two.

I’ve been trying to pare down my magazine collection which has gotten a little out of control recently. I’m not sure of the ideal way to do this because I’ve amassed a lot of content but in the meantime I’ve simply been tearing out recipes I like. I must have subscribed to or been given Food Network Magazine at one point because I came across an incredible recipe over the weekend and it involves two of my favorite foods: pretzels and cheese.

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

(credit: Crystal Grobe)

These little pretzel coated cheese nuggets are meant to resemble eggs, so they’d be great to make for Easter or even April Fool’s Day or heck, you can be like me and just make them for a Sunday afternoon snack. They are a little putzy to assemble but can be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until you’re ready to fry and bake them. I’ve found that using a frying thermometer is incredibly helpful to get just the right temperature and they only take a few minutes to cook after assembling.

Pretzel-Crusted Fried Cheese
Makes 12
From Food Network Magazine, April 2011

Note: I used Monterey Jack cheese and it worked just as well as provolone or mozzarella. Don’t be alarmed if you have a lot of crushed pretzels leftover. The leftovers can be used as breading for chicken or fish.

For the Fried Cheese:
8 ounces provolone or part-skim mozzarella cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
4 ounces yellow cheddar cheese, cubed
1 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 8-ounce bag thin pretzel sticks
Freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs
5 tablespoons spicy mustard
Peanut oil, for frying

For the Sauce:
2 tablespoons horseradish, drained
1 tablespoon spicy mustard
1/4 cup sour cream

Make the fried cheese: Pulse the provolone and parmesan in a food processor until the cheese gathers into a ball; transfer to a bowl. Pulse the yellow cheddar and 2 teaspoons flour in the food processor until smooth. Form teaspoonfuls of the yellow cheddar mixture into 12 small balls; roll between your hands until smooth. Transfer to a plate and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Wipe out the food processor. Add the pretzels and pulse until finely ground with a few chunks; transfer to a shallow dish. Mix the remaining 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in another dish. Whisk the eggs and mustard in a third dish.

Roll tablespoonfuls of the provolone mixture into 12 balls, then flatten into disks. Put 1 yellow cheddar ball on each disk, then shape the provolone around it, enclosing the cheddar. Roll into an egg shape.

Dip the cheese balls in the egg mixture, then dredge in the flour; return to the egg mixture, then roll in the pretzel crumbs, turning to coat. Refrigerate at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours to set the coating.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1/2 inch peanut oil in a saucepan until a deep-fry thermometer registers 360 degrees F. Fry the cheese balls in batches, turning, until golden, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a rack set in a baking dish. Bake until heated through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Make the sauce: Whisk the horseradish, mustard and sour cream in a bowl. Serve with the fried cheese.


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