Little redheaded Anne of Green Gables said it perfectly: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
As a fellow redhead and autumnophile, I have to agree. I think my husband would, too, and not just because it’s his birthday this weekend. But I’m sure that helps. October also happens to be the month that most of us here in the states celebrate Oktoberfest – even though it’s technically held in September in its home country of Germany. So that’s another point for this particular twelfth of the year.
We Texans have a particular affinity for Oktoberfest thanks to our large population of German settlers. If you haven’t already guessed, my husband and I happen to be part of this wonderful group. Every year our love of chicken-fried meats and an ancestral connection to the historic Reinheitsgebot – the original beer laws created in 16th century Bavaria – makes us want to celebrate the season. And it just so happens that these beer laws are celebrating their 499th birthday this year. Another excuse to party German-Texan style.
There are so many aspects of Texas culture that come from our German forefathers: our hard work ethic, love of beer and long hikes, a year-round affinity for eating (and drinking) on porches or picnic tables, our two-steps are essentially just polkas, and don’t even get me started on the Germanic influences buried in a plate of barbecue. Then there’s the ties with potato salad, cole slaw, baked goods, and sausage. Our chicken fried steaks and chicken fried chickens are essentially just oversized schnitzels. Let’s just say, we might not speak the same language or live in the same place, but we’d get along fine when it came to the dinner table.
So that’s how we get to these little chicken fried chicken pretzel sandwiches. Our Germanic ties are so deeply rooted, I can’t even point out which part of the sandwich is more German or more Texan. Let’s just say a plate of these would be as equally welcomed at your Opa’s beer garden picnic table as they would to a bevy of hungry locals walking around Austin City Limits Fest in their Chacos.
chicken fried chicken pretzel sandwiches
A German Texan classic, perfect for walking around Oktoberfest or sitting on your back porch with a beer in hand. Pair with sour pickles, sweet and spicy mustard, and your favorite sides.
homemade pretzel buns
makes about ten small buns
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup baking soda
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons water
In a large bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and salt. Sprinkle yeast over the top and let set for about 5 minutes until the yeast begins to foam. To the bowl add the flour and butter and stir with a large wooden spoon to combine. Continue with the spoon until the dough is too tough to stir, turn out onto a lightly oiled surface, and knead until smooth. Clean the bowl, lightly oil, return the dough ball, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot to rise until doubled – about 1 hour.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and form into 10 evenly sized portions (about 3 1/2 to 4 ounces each). Gently knead and form the pieces into round little buns and place on a lined baking sheet, leaving several inches between each. Set the sheet in a semi-warm place to rise again.
Set the oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, set over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Add the baking soda and stir to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and water. Set aside.
Bring the pot of water to a low boil. Carefully add a single piece of dough (or two if your pot is large enough) to the soda water and let it float for 30 seconds, flip it onto the other side, and boil for another 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and return to the lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
Lightly brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. Bake in the middle of the oven – rotating the pan halfway through – until the pretzels are a deep golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool until ready to eat.
chicken fried chicken
3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
1/2 cup milk
Gently beat each chicken breast until very thin, ideally about 1/8-inch thick. Cut each breast into smaller cutlets – about 2 to 3 pieces each – in order to fit on the pretzel buns.
In one bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. In another bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Dredge each chicken cutlet: first in the flour, then the egg, and then in the flour again. Continue with remaining cutlets.
Fill a heavy cast-iron skillet with about an inch of canola oil and set over medium high heat. Test the oil by dropping in a few pinches of flour – if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Gently lay a cutlet into the oil – or two if you have the room – and let fry until crisp and golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and repeat on the other side. Carefully remove and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets.
warm pretzel buns, split
hot chicken fried chicken cutlets
dill or garlic pickles
grainy mustard mixed with sorghum
Sandwich in the following order: bottom half of bun, mustard, chicken fried chicken, pickle slices, top of bun. Repeat and eat.
– the pretzel dough can also be mixed in an electric stand mixer with a dough hook.
– when thinning the chicken breasts, I put a piece of chicken in a zip-top bag and beat it with a heavy handle-less rolling pin.
– any strong mustard works with these sandwiches, but I prefer something a little sweet. so I mix my grainy mustard with a bit of plain sorghum.
Happy 499th birthday, Reinheitsgebot, and happy 27th, husband! Hope you enjoy the schnitzel sandwiches.