Just in case you were dying to know, the answer is yes. Yes we still a few more days to celebrate Oktoberfest. The good news is that it isn’t officially over until October 4th so there’s still time. Grab your friends and family and throw yourselves a good old fashioned Oktoberfest party. Even better news is that I have the ultimate Oktoberfest recipe for you to try. It’ll instantly become your new favorite fall time dish, without having to rely on the recipes you always make year after year. The bad news is that I can almost guarantee once you try this pot pie you’ll no longer what to eat regular pot pie ever again. Someone will serve you chicken pot pie with a boring crust and you’ll lose it. You’ll flip a table over and start throwing dishes on the floor, and have a good old fashioned tantrum. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. P.S. I’m just going to keep putting “good old fashioned” in front of everything to make it sound more appealing. Let me know if it’s working.
A little fun fact about me is that I took German in high school for a couple years. Don’t ask me anything about it because I hardly remember a thing. In all honesty I only studied it because my sister had taken German for three years at the same school and I wanted to be just like her. My sister is the smartest person I know, and the teacher really liked her a lot because of this, so I figured I’d get a free ride by extension. I got by and enjoyed it, but not enough to remember what I learned. It’s a bummer now that I think about it. It’s like why didn’t I stick with the cello or stick with German? I could’ve been a cello master who speaks fluent German, but no that didn’t happen. All I know now is that I still get excited for Oktoberfest each year, and not celebrating it would be criminal.
Let’s talk about this Bratwurst, Beer & Cheddar Pretzel Pot Pie for a quick second. It’s a mouthful to say, but think about how difficult it is for me. I’m the one that actually has to keep typing it out. I didn’t know what else to call this pot pie. Deciding on the title was a bit hard. I wanted to make sure you fully understood how awesome the recipe is right off the bat. I played around with a few titles like, Good Old Fashioned Oktoberfest Pot Pie, but that didn’t really say much about it. Then I thought German Pot Pie, but nah, this isn’t something that is made in Germany and I didn’t want it to be misleading. Then I was like, I’ll list some of the ingredients in the title like Bratwurst, Beer and Cheddar Pot Pie. I was happy with that for a bit, but midway through writing out the post it dawned on me that I really should highlight the pretzel part of this dish too because the pretzel is a crucial component of it. It’s the first thing you’ll notice when you look at the images. Pretzel NEEDS to be in the title. Bratwurst, Pretzel, Cheddar and Beer Pot Pie didn’t have an easy fluidity to it. It didn’t flow naturally off my tongue, so I started jumbling the worlds around until I found the right combination but even then I’m not even sure if it’s the right decision because it’s the longest recipe title ever known to mankind (exaggerating). Bratwurst, Beer & Cheddar Pretzel Pot Pie was the winner. It seemed right. It seemed fair. At the end of the day, the one thing I realized was that it doesn’t matter what in the world I decided to call it, people are still going to love it either way. As long as it tastes good, that’s all that matters.
Let’s start by making the homemade pretzels that go on top of our pot pies. Yes, soft homemade pretzels baked right on top of our pot pie filling so that we end up with a soft pretzel crust. It literally doesn’t get any better than this moment right here. Right now.
In a small bowl, combine half of the water, a teaspoon or two of sugar and a packet of yeast. Let sit for about 10 minutes until foamy and frothy.
**Note: This step is very important. Make sure the water is warm but not hot and definitely not cold. If your mixture doesn’t foam, toss it and start again. The yeast needs to be proofed correctly in order to get those perfect soft pretzels.**
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, rest of the water, rest of the sugar, salt, yeast mixture, and melted butter. Mix with the dough hook attachment until well combined. Turn the speed to high and knead until soft and somewhat elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes.
**Note: You can also knead this by hand on a lightly floured work surface for about 7 to 8 minutes, until soft and elastic. Just keep in mind you’ll need to add a little elbow grease.**
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm (draft-free) spot until doubled in size about 1 1/2 hours.
**Tip: The best place for this is in an oven that is turned off or on top of the refrigerator. Or if it’s hot outside and it’s a dry heat, place the bowl out on your balcony or front porch. It works like a charm.**
Meanwhile, let’s work on the pot pie filling. Start by browning the bratwurst on all sides (it wouldn’t be a German dish without a few sausages, am I right?). Sweet or hot Italian sausage would work great as well.
**Note: You don’t have to worry about cooking the sausages all the way because they’ll continue to cook later on. Right now, we’re just worried about getting color on them.**
Transfer the bratwursts to a plate or cutting board and add the chopped bacon. Cook until crispy and then using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Toss out most of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot.
Add the onions, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook until softened and translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and fresh thyme.
Add the dijon mustard, and flour and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the beef stock, beer and potatoes. Reduce heat to low, cook until the sauce comes to a simmer, reduces slightly and begins to thicken, about 10 to 15 minutes. It’ll give a chance for the potatoes to cook a bit.
**Note: You can use chicken stock if you’re not a fan of beef. As for the beer, try a traditional lager or pale ale. I used an Oktoberfest beer from Karl Strauss.**
Once thick, return the sliced bratwurst to the pot and stir in the half and half. Heavy cream will work as well if you have that on hand.
**Note: The half and half will give the filling a creamy consistency to it, but I won’t be mad if you want to leave it out. It won’t ruin the dish.**
Because it wasn’t already decadent and amazing enough, we’re going to add another layer of flavor. Stir in lots of shredded cheese until melted through. The cheese goes so well with the beer and the bratwursts, wouldn’t you agree?
**Note: You can use whatever cheese you have on hand. I used a sharp cheddar, but white cheddar or pepper jack would be great as well.**
Give the filling a taste and adjust the seasonings according. Add more salt or pepper as needed. Once you’re satisfied with the taste and you’re like, “oh wow this is the best thing I ever made. I can’t wait to eat it all!” Then you can stir back in the crispy bacon from earlier.
Divide the filling among 4 to 6 individual ramekins, or you can just pour it into one large 9 by 13-inch baking dish if you want to do a family style serving. I like the individual servings though because everyone can get their own little pot pie and let’s be honest, it looks cuter.
We’re almost there…I know, I know, there are quite a few steps to this recipe but I promise it’s super worth it. Let’s now work on the final step. Making that pretzel crust! Punch the dough down and cut into 12 small pieces (depending on how big you want the pretzels). Working with one piece at a time, roll the dough into a long rope and shape into a pretzel. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and continue shaping the rest. Flatten the pretzels out a bit with the palm of your hand.
**Note: If you’re making these pot pies as individual, make sure the pretzels are the right size to fit on top of the ramekins. You’ll have a few extra pretzels but that’s good because you can have them as snacks later on with mustard. You can thank me later for it.**
Allow the pretzels to rise for half an hour. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and barley malt syrup. Bring back up to a boil and then cook the pretzels, in batches, for about 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute. Drain with a slotted spoon and return to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
**Note: Barley Malt Syrup is a dark brown syrup made from malted barley and it’s often used for making bagels and pretzels. It gives them great flavor, but it’s optional so if you can’t find it, you can leave it out. You can find it online or some speciality food stores.**
Place the boiled pretzels on top of the pot pies. If you’re using one large baking dish, just line the pretzels on top in two rows. Leave any extra pretzels on the baking sheets for baking.
Brush with an egg wash (egg whisked with a splash of water) and sprinkle with pretzel salt, coarse salt or sesame seeds. (Like the malt syrup, you can also find pretzel salt on online).
Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool off slightly so that you don’t burn your mouth and tongue off. That would be bad, but totally worth it because have you seen these pot pies?!
Okay so let’s be real. I know that there are a lot of steps to this recipe. I know this. You know this, and I won’t pretend that it isn’t. So if you want to skip the homemade pretzel step, you can use pie crust instead or puff pastry or even frozen pretzels if there is such a thing.
These pot pies actually reheat really well, so if you want you can totally make them the day before and keep them in the fridge until ready to eat. Just rewarm in a preheated 350ºF oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. The pretzel will soften up and the filling will warm through and it will be amazing. I promise.
I like to serve them with a sprinkling of fresh thyme on top for flavor but mostly for a pop of color. A side salad would be great, but definitely don’t forget about the beer. It’s Oktoberfest after all, so we need the beer for washing it down. Serve it with the same beer you used in the sauce, that way you know that the flavors will work well together.
There’s something so awesome about grabbing a piece of the soft pretzel on top and then dipping it into the sauce. The beer, cheddar and mustard in it just go perfectly well with the pretzel. It’s seriously one of the best things I’ve ever made/ever eaten. Am I allowed to say that about my own work? I don’t want to sound hammy, but it’s literally that good.
Whether you’re celebrating Oktoberfest or just looking for something new and exciting to make for your friends or family for dinner, this pot pie is the way to go. This is one of those meals you make for special occasions and for someone special. That way you can totally tell them, “I slaved away making this tiny pretzels from scratch to put on this homemade beer cheddar pot pie filling.” I guarantee after you say that, you’ll get whatever you want. Use the power wisely.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 bratwurst sausages
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
- 1 cup beef (or chicken) stock
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer (Oktoberfest beer would be great!)
- 6 to 8 small red potatoes, diced
- 3/4 cup half and half
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Homemade Pretzels (recipe follows) or Store-bought pie crust
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup pretzel salt or sesame seeds
- Set a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat with the oil. Once hot, cook the sausages until browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes in total. Don't worry about cooking them all the way, because it'll continue to cook later on. Remove from the pot and let cool on a cutting board. Slice into thin rounds and set aside.
- Add the chopped bacon and cook until crispy, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate. Set aside.Pour out most of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 to 2 tablespoons in the pot. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and thyme. Add the potatoes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and cook for about a minute. Then stir in the sliced sausage, dijon mustard, beef stock and beer. Cook until the potatoes are almost fork tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Stir in the half and half and shredded cheese until melted through. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly, adding more salt and pepper as needed. Lastly add the bacon back into the pot.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide the filling among 4 to 6 individual ramekins or into a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Top each with a pretzel (or line the pretzels onto the large baking dish). Brush them with egg wash (egg whisked with a splash of water) and sprinkle with pretzel salt.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving/eating.
- Yield: 6 servings
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoon (1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup baking soda
- 2 tablespoons barley malt syrup (optional)
- 1 large egg (whisked with splash of water)
- 1/4 cup pretzel salt, coarse salt, and sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup water, 2 teaspoons sugar, and yeast. Let rest in a warm spot until foamy and frothy, about 10 minutes.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, remaining water, remaining sugar, yeast mixture, and butter. Mix with the dough hook attachment until the dough comes together. Turn the speed up to high and knead until soft and somewhat elastic, about 4 to 5 minutes. You can also knead the dough by hand on a lightly floured work surface for about 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a well oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel. Let rest in a warm draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Punch the dough down and cut into 12 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each into a long rope and shape into a pretzel. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly greased with cooking spray. Continue shaping the rest of the dough. Let rest for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and barley malt syrup and return to a boil. Boil the pretzels, in batches, for 1 minute. Flip over and cook for another minute. Using a slotted spoon, drain the pretzels and return to the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pretzels.
- Place the boiled pretzels onto the pot pies (or just leave on baking sheets if you don't want to use as a crust), brush with egg wash, and sprinkle with pretzel salt. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
- Yield: 12 small pretzels