So a few warnings on this one… #1 – time consuming as it took about 2 hours from start to finish, #2 – lots of dishes, #3 – burgers ended up so tall they were hard to get your mouth around. I started with Fleischmann’s Simply Homemade no-knead Bread Mix Pretzels which we have used to make pretzel bites in the past and they were pretty good. The buns were a little dry, but still tasted good and held up well with the juicy burgers. Then I prepared the onion rings from this site http://mylatinatable.com/homemade-extra-crispy-onion-rings/. The rest was just my version of a California burger (thousand island dressing, avocado, etc.). Since my husband is not a fan of avocado, we made his bacon cheeseburgers (next picture) with some leftover bacon.
Now for the process. Get ready! Start by combining the pretzel mix, pretzel salt, and yeast (all provided) in a large bowl. Melt 1 tbsp butter and grab 1 egg. Get 3/4 C very warm tap water (120-130 degrees to activate the yeast). Spray a cookie sheet with Pam (or something like it) and set aside. Add water, butter, and egg to the dry mixture and stir till combined thoroughly. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface (I used my granite counter because it is clean). Fold the dough in half and press down, then fold in half again and press down. If the dough is sticky, flour your hands to do this. Repeat the folding and pressing process till you have done it 10 times total. Separate into 6 equal sections (next time I would do 4 so the buns would be bigger). Roll each into a smooth ball and place on the greased baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 25 minutes. Dough will get puffy but will not double in size. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
For the onion rings, slice 1 white onion in 1/4″ slices (for 2 people, half the onion could be used for onion rings and the other half for the onion on the burger, but I didn’t think about that till after we had a ton of onion rings and it was too late). Carefully separate the slices into rings, leaving the little middle pieces out for another dish another day. In a shallow bowl, mix together 1/2 C all purpose flour, 1 tbsp baking powder, and 1 tbsp smoked paprika. Coat each onion ring in the flour mixture and set aside. Combine 3/4 C milk with 1 egg and whisk till thoroughly combined and smooth. Add salt and pepper to your preference. Set aside. In another shallow bowl, add a good amount of bread crumbs for coating (I used about 1 1/2 C). And now we wait for the pretzels to finish rising.
While we wait, get everything ready for your burgers. Slice some cheese, lettuce, pickles, onion (if you are not using the there half of the onion ring onion), and avocado. Form your burger patties seasoned with Salt and pepper, and add a small indentation in the middle so they don’t get too thick in the middle.
By now, you should only have a couple minutes left (if any) for the dough to rise. Add 6 cups water to a deep pot and add the baking side from the pretzel kit. Bring to a boil. Once it is bubbling and foamy, it’s ready. Carefully using a slotted spoon or spatula transfer half of the buns into the boiling water. About 15 seconds later, flip them. About 15 seconds after that, return to the cookie sheet. Repeat with the other half. Slice the tops with an “x” about 1/4″ deep. Put in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes. They will be deeply browned when they are done. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack immediately and let cool.
While those are baking, work on the onions and have your hubby start on the burgers (or start up your grill pan and be ready to make a big mess). You will want to remove any rings or jewelry before this part. Heat canola oil in a large deep skillet. Once hot, put a few onion rings in the flour/milk mixture, then into the bread crumbs, and then into the oil. After a little bit, flip it. Once done, remove to a paper towel lined platter. Keep in mind that as you go, they will cook faster because the oil will continue getting hotter. Do them in batches and be careful not to crowd the pan. Once done, the buns should be ready. While you are working through those, the burgers can be cooked for a few minutes each side till cooked through (timing depends on how thick you made them). Add cheese to them for the last few minutes and let the cheese melt. Remove from the heat and let rest while you finish the onion rings.
If you are going to reheat bacon, out a few pieces of cold bacon on a paper towel on a microwave safe plate, then cover (with a paper towel or plastic cover), then microwave for 30 seconds.
Ready to serve it up, finally! Cut a bun in half, top with a burger, add your toppings (I did onion, lettuce, pickles, avocado, and thousand island dressing, husband did onion, pickles, bacon, mustard, and ketchup). Add some onion rings to the side and get ready to dig in! Enjoy!