“Got knots?” Simply Recipes contributor Hank Shaw does, and boy are they good. Enjoy! ~Elise
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey, one of my absolute favorite after-school treats would be to walk over to Ferraro’s, dig through my pockets for loose change and buy some garlic knots — garlicky, buttery rolls made from stray bits of pizza dough. At 25 cents apiece, I could buy a lotta knots with a little change.
Garlic knots are a pizzeria favorite, and in New Jersey, their presence was a sign that the pizza joint you just walked into was legit. Making knots is a thrifty way to use scraps of dough and the leftover garlic-butter-parsley sauce most pizzerias would use for their white pizzas or garlic bread.
Over the years I’ve seen people make gigantic garlic knots the size of croissants, but that seems weird to me. The knots of my youth could fit into the palm of your hand with ease. Eating eight of them at a sitting was no trouble at all.
What are they like? Crusty on the outside, light as air within. Chewy, and almost sour — most garlic knots I remember were made with old pizza dough that was already thinking about fermenting. The garlic-soaked butter (some places used olive oil) got all over your hands; I’d smell like Ferraro’s for hours after eating them, and if I didn’t finish my supper that night my mom would know why.
A big basket of garlic knots is a great party treat, and is pretty easy to make if you use premade pizza dough. Be warned: Make twice as many as you think you’ll need. You’ll find yourself reaching for another without thinking, and so will your guests. And if you have a New Jersey native in the house, make a triple batch. I ate half of this recipe at one sitting.
It is perfectly OK to use store-bought pizza dough here. One 14-ounce package of pizza dough will approximate this recipe.
- 3/4 cup warm water (105°F-115°F)
- 1 package (2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast (check the expiration date on the package)
- 1 3/4 cups bread flour (can use all-purpose but bread flour will give you a crisper crust)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 5 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup parsley, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
1 Sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Stir to combine and let sit for another 5-10 minutes, until it begins to froth a bit.
2 In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil, then the yeast-water mixture. Mix this together to form a soft dough and knead for 5-10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly coat with olive oil. Put it in a large bowl, top the bowl with plastic wrap and set it at room temperature to rise.
3 When the dough has doubled in size, anywhere from 90 minutes to several hours, cut it in half. Set out a large baking sheet and line it with a silpat or parchment paper. Take one half of the dough and cut it in half. Working with one piece at a time, flatten into a rough rectangle about 5 inches long 1/2 inch thick.
4 Using a sharp knife, slice the dough into strips of about 1 inch wide by 5 inches long. Cut these strips in half. Take one piece and work it into a snake, then tie it in a knot. The dough will be sticky along the cut edges, so dust these with flour before you tie the knot. Set each knot down on the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Remember that the dough will rise, so leave some space between each knot.
5 Once all the knots are tied, paint them with a little olive oil. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size, anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours or so. Toward the end of this rising period, preheat the oven to 400°.
6 Uncover the knots and bake in the oven 12-15 minutes, or until nicely browned on top.
7 Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot and cook the garlic gently in it just long enough to take off that raw garlic edge, about 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat. Add the salt and parsley and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
8 When the knots are done, take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Paint with the garlic-butter-parsley mixture and serve. These are best warm, but are good at room temperature, too.