~ For the Times When You Gotta Have Garlic Knots ~
Garlic knots always remind me of the movie Saturday Night Fever (even though not a single knot got eaten in the movie). That said, in the opening scene, when Tony Manero grabbed "a couple of slices" and did his famous disco-stroll down 86th street, every lover-of-disco who had occasion to travel to Brooklyn wanted to make a pilgrimage to Lenny's Pizza -- including me.
I almost made it too. An October ice storm caused us to cancel our plans, and, soon afterward, the couple we were traveling with moved to Connecticut. Eileen and I had worked together in a Happy Valley bank. She, a native of Brooklyn and daughter of Italian-American parents, had arranged the trip "home", and, the kick-off was going to be garlic knots and baked ziti at Lenny's on Friday night. Eileen, who'd eaten there before, surprisingly, was not a fan of Lenny's pizza. "Que sera, sera." (Spanish for "what will be, will be" is something you say when you are stuck in a hopelessly unchangeable situation, but have come to accept, or even embrace the unchangability of it all.) Happily, Eileen and I were both good cooks -- we made our own garlic knots and baked ziti from her mom's (Mrs. Guadnola's) recipes instead!
Garlic knots are a form of garlic bread -- they're typically made using the same butter, garlic, parsley mixture the establishment uses to make garlic bread. In the beginning, they were found primarily in pizzarias in and around New York City because they were invented by Amir Zamani, in Queens, in 1973, as a way of making use of scraps of pizza dough. As an appetizer, they come to you with a side of marinara sauce for dipping, and, because they are made from scraps, a basket of them often comes complimentary with more expensive menu items. I can tell you this: if garlic knots are available on a menu, I will choose them over garlic bread every time.
Garlic knots: It's all about the dough baby (not the "dough boy)!
In my home kitchen, because I rarely have scraps of pizza dough laying around, when I gotta have garlic knots, I use ~ My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough ~, which is a quick and easy way to make two great 12"-round pizzas or 16 great garlic knots. As for store-bought pizza dough, unless you purchase it from your local pizza shop, which is AOK by me, I don't recommend the store-bought kind unless you are prepared to compromise the end result. That said, while I am not usually a proponent of store-bought spice blends, I do like the flavor that Lawry's Garlic Salt w/Parsley Flakes adds, as opposed to plain garlic powder or garlic salt. It's got a little sugar in it too, which adds to its pleasant, not overly-salty taste. That choice, as always, is yours, but, I know a good thing when I taste it -- it has earned a spot in my pantry!
Garlic knots: golden & crispy outside/tender & slightly-chewy inside.
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup "00" flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 packet granulated yeast, not rapid-rise yeast
Add the all-purpose flour, "00 flour" and semolina. Using your index finger, make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast to it. Note: When making any type of bread machine dough, always add the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last.
~ Step 2. Insert the bread pan into the machine. Close the lid and push the "select" button. Then choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push the "start" button. While the machine is running, ready your kitchen scale and pastry board.
Note: Be brave. Once you form 1 or 2, you'll be done in 6-8 minutes.
~ Step 5. As you form each knot, place it, well-apart on a 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. When all of the knots are formed, cover the pan with a flour-sack-type towel and allow them to rise until double in size, 35-45 minutes. Meanwhile:
~ Step 7. When the knots have risen, using a pastry brush, liberally, paint the tops with the garlic butter mixture. What drizzles down is going to make the knots crispy. That said, you will and should have garlic butter left in the saucepan. We'll be using it later.
Transfer the knots to a cooling rack for about 5 minutes:
Special Equipment List: bread machine; 1-cup measuring container; kitchen scale (optional); large wooden pastry board; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; flour-sack-type kitchen towel; 1-quart saucepan; pastry brush; cooling rack
Cook's Note: It should come as no surprise that after my missed encounter with Lenny's Pizza I find it almost impossible to serve baked ziti without garlic knots. The two really do go hand-in-hand together. To get my spin-off of Mrs. Guadnoloa's recipe ~ Baked Ziti Casserole w/Sausage & Four Cheeses ~ just click into Categories 3, 12, 17, 19 or 20!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)