We have Betty Crocker to thank for pigs in a blanket. Reliable, adorable, crowd-pleasing pigs in a blanket. Thanks, Betty! She published the first known recipe in her 1957 book, Cook Book for Boys and Girls (there called “pigs in blankets”). They went on to become the party food to end all party foods in the 1960s.
Which is funny, because the idea had been around decades before that—all the way back to the late 19th century, when the term indicated oysters wrapped in bacon. That version is also known as angels on horseback, a counterpart to the British devils on horseback, or prunes wrapped in bacon. Somewhere along the way, these oysters and prunes made way for tiny hot dogs and the bacon stepped aside for buttery, carby dough.
If this history teaches us anything, it’s that pigs in a blanket don’t mind being messed with. After all, they’re called pigs in a blanket—they don’t take themselves that seriously. Here are some ways to play around:
Hot dogs are perfectly bundle-able because they’re self-contained—so, in a casing. In this, ahem, case, the blanket doesn’t have to do much. But that doesn’t mean links are the only option. In Great Britain, like-minded sausage rolls start with loose, ground meat, which gets encased in puff pastry (then cut into bite-size pieces pre- or post-bake). Less structured, just as addictive. Other options:
If the original blanket was bacon, your blanket can be anything. If you’re experimenting for a big party, though—that’s okay, we all do—maybe play it a little safe. Something bready is a reliable pick. For extra color, brush with egg wash (egg mixed with water or cream) before baking. This also unlocks the door to savory sprinkles, from sesame and poppy seeds to everything seasoning and za’atar. Potential bedding:
Classic pigs in a blanket ask The Question that all Americans must, at one point or another, answer: ketchup or mustard? (I say light on the former, heavy on the latter, because I want to have it all.) But when the pigs and the blankets are up for grabs, the dipping sauces is, too. Ketchup or mustard or—what else? Turn to your condiment shelf for inspiration. If your filling is meaty, try something vinegary or spicy. If it’s leaner, like a vegetable, opt for something creamy or tangy. Possibilities:
It’s the classic American girl next door (cheeseburger) meets a British prince (sausage roll) and they fall in love and get married and have the cutest little royal cheeseburger in a blanket (Royale with cheese) and everyone lives happily ever after.
Beef, American cheese, chopped onion. Buy lean ground beef—if it’s too fatty, the bottom will get soggy. And if you’ve ever watched The Great British Baking Show, you know no one likes a soggy bottom. Top with American cheese and chopped yellow onion for the ultimate diner effect.
Sesame-sprinkled pizza dough. Make your own, or buy some at a local pizzeria or grocery store. À la sausage rolls: Form meat logs, wrap them in rolled-out dough, then cut them post-bake (this will yield rarer beef). Or, bundle beef nuggets individually (for crispier edges). Figure about 1 pound ground beef to 2 ½ pounds pizza dough (yielding about 50 pieces). Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, then bake with the seam side down.
Secret sauce. We could talk about secret sauce forever. The cheat sheet: It’s great with cheeseburgers. If you aren’t in the mood to make a many-ingredient sauce, just combine mayo, ketchup, mustard, and relish to taste.
The Seabiscuit of the snackdown. This broccoli is being compared to a hot dog and a cheeseburger. Poor thing—what is it even doing in this race? Well, just you wait. It has more than a few tricks up its, uh, blanket. And who doesn’t love an underdog?
Harissa-roasted broccoli. My favorite part about roasted broccoli: when the frilly tops get crispy and crunchy and charred. Toss florets with harissa and olive oil. Roast at a high temperature—say 400° F—until tender and starting to color. Let cool completely before bundling.
Za’atar-sprinkled puff pastry. The broccoli is all about this flaky, buttery blanket. Roll to a ¼- to ⅛-inch thickness. Cut into broccoli-sized rectangles, fill, and roll up. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with za’atar. Bake with the seam side down.
Tahini yogurt. I love a recipe whose name is also its ingredient list—tahini and yogurt. Find the ratio that feels right to you. I like Greek-style yogurt for thickness. Try adding some lemon juice or even chopped, preserved lemons on top.
Which not-pig in a blanket would you invite to your game day party? Tell us in the comments below!