I got my undergraduate degree from the football school to rival all football schools. I’m an Auburn tiger, I bleed orange and blue, and I still keep a copy of the Auburn creed in my wallet. Most fall weekends in the “Loveliest Village on the Plains” were spent preparing for tailgating, tailgating, watching the game, and post-gaming at a bar. I’ll keep to myself how much of this prep work involved jello shots and flasks, but we prepared some real food, too.
Most of us had crock pots, even in our tiny apartments in which we never cooked, so someone always brought some Velveeta-and-Rotel queso and someone else brought Lil Smokies in barbecue sauce. The lazier of us would run to Publix to stock up on every variety of chips we could think of. My roommate would usually make cookies or monkey bread. And someone almost always made pigs in a blanket using the “tiny sausages rolled in canned crescent dough” method.
Pigs in a blanket are addictive. At our tailgate parties, the little hot dogs in bread were the first to go. They are the perfect gameday food: they don’t require plates, napkins, utensils, or condiments. They are tasty hot, room temperature, or even cool. They’re bite-size, so if you don’t want to look like you’re hogging all the food, just hang out near the food table and pop them in your mouth one at a time (as opposed to having to get a plate, make a mountain of tortilla chips, and then spoon several cups of queso onto the chips, making you look like a pig). They are adorable and manly at the same time, unlike cupcakes, which have a similar bite-size appeal but can seem “girly” to men who are concerned with that sort of thing. Everyone likes them (except vegans and vegetarians, but they’re over by the guacamole, so you’ve got less competition anyway).
They even go up-market really well. I was at a very fancy party for D’s work last year, and the passed appetizers consisted of a caprese crostini, polenta triangles, some sort of chicken skewer, and pigs in a blanket. Guess which appetizer was the most popular. About a hundred of us were standing around in cocktail dresses and neckties, holding beverages in real, appropriate stemware, making polite conversation, and eating pigs in a blanket. Pigs in a blanket are never inappropriate– they are the world’s most versatile appetizer.
The crescent-roll method is classic, and I am not denigrating it. But as I’ve aged, I’ve found a slightly fancier, and not really more labor-intensive, way to make pigs in a blanket. The frozen puff pastry makes people think they took more work than they actually did, and the sprinkle of poppy seeds elicits stunned “oohs” and “ahhs” from the bringers of the bags of chips. I’ve made these a few times for potlucks, BYOB-and-side birthday parties, and Superbowls, and they’re always a hit.
Fancier Pigs in a Blanket
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes about 60 pigs in a blanket
You will need:
2 pounds mini hot dogs/ Lil Smokies
1 box (17.5 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water
Flour, for work surface
Sesame or poppy seeds, for garnish
Shredded cheddar cheese
If using cheese or onions: Cut each hot dog lengthwise about halfway down– don’t actually cut the hot dog in half. Stuff the hot dog with cheese or onions.
If not using cheese or onions: Poke each hot dog a couple of times with a fork.
Working with one sheet at a time, roll each sheet of puff pastry into an 11″ x 14″ rectangle. Cut lengthwise into 7 equal strips, and cut each strip into 4 equal rectangles.
Working with one rectangle of puff pastry at a time, roll a hot dog in the puff pastry and seal the pastry well. Set aside on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When you’ve completed this process for all hot dogs, brush all pigs in a blanket with egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450. Bake pigs in a blanket for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown.
These are tasty fresh from the oven, or if you let them cool to room temp. Perfect for gameday!