George’s® Bloody Mary Mix is, hands down, the most fabulicious Bloody Mary you will every taste from a mix (and, I’d venture to say, beats quite a few bartender versions as well). While I’m quite content to slurp it down as a Bloody Mary with a right proper dose of vodka, George’s® actually works well in recipes like my ham and cheese stuffed meatloaf, soups, and stews so why not a warm, gooey cheesy monkey bread.
I’d been toying with the idea of making a savory monkey bread using George’s® for some time. I really love to bake during the winter, especially right now while I’m staring almost two feet of snow in the snoot, so I decided now’s the time to see if the practice stands up to the theory. It does! In spades. It’s a cheesy, tangy mess of deliciousness that is perfect for football snacking, alongside a nice pot of soup, or, as we found, leftover for breakfast. The kitchen smells great and it adds an extra bit of warmth that this old house really needs.
In full transparency, George’s® Bloody Mary Mix is the creation of my youngest brother, Gregory David. It is an absolutely to-die-for concoction that only needs vodka, ice and maybe a celery stick or bacon stir straw (if you’ve never tried the latter, you really should). George’s® comes in spicy and mild and can be found in more and more retailers in the DMV. You can check for your closest retailer on their website: George’s Mixes. “Why the infomercial, Betty Lou?” you ask. Well, in order to make this monkey bread (and the best damn Bloody Mary but I may be beating that dead horse), you must use George’s®. I’ve never had another mix that tastes so fresh and cannot vouch for any other. So there’s my transparency notice and caveat re the dire consequences should you stray.
Let’s commence to baking.
The recipe is simple: George’s®, bread dough from the freezer section (thawed and ready to use), Monterey Jack Cheese (think Pepper Jack would work well too), butter, Pecorino Romano, and a tube or Bundt pan which you have very, very well lubed up (I used nonstick spray but butter would work as well).
First microwave the George’s® and butter just until the butter has melted and then stir in the Pecorino Romano. You could also use Parmesan. You may not, however, use that salty sawdust in a green can. The mix will look lumpy; this is fine. Next cut the block of Monterey Jack in half. Grate one half and set aside. Cube the second half into 24 pieces. Next, divide the dough into 24 pieces, as even in size as possible. Flatten out a ball of dough, put a cube of cheese in, roll the dough around it to encase completely and repeat 23 times. This is a terrific kid job as long as they’ve washed their hands. Yes, I am a joy in the kitchen.
This is what the dough balls look like. They don’t need to be perfectly even and smooth. Just make sure the cheese is fully encased to prevent leakage.
Once the dough is all rolled, dip each into the butter, George’s®, Romano blend and place into the well-greased tube or Bundt pan. You will make two layers. Try to make the layers as even as possible but do not smoosh them down. Once you get the first twelve balls in, sprinkle half of the shredded Monterey Jack around evenly and then repeat with the second layer.
After you’ve put all of the coated dough balls into the pan, sprinkle the remaining shredded Monterey Jack evenly on top. I also drizzled the last bits of the butter mixture on which was great for my taste. If you’d prefer a drier bread, you can leave it off. An aside here: It will look like a measly amount of dough and you will wonder if yours will fill the pan when it rises and you will further wonder why I didn’t photograph the pre-rise stage to prove this and I will admit I am wondering the same thing. But trust me, it will rise. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for an hour or until double in size (what you see above) and then pop into the preheated oven for 35 minutes.
Let the monkey bread cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then loosen the sides with a knife and pop out. If you invert it out of the pan, put it back upright onto your serving plate for a pretty presentation.
It is best right out of the pan while the cheese is gooey (think pizza) but we found, surprisingly, once it had cooled, it went quite well alongside beef stew for dinner. And if that wasn’t enough, it went splendidly the next morning with scrambled eggs alongside a lovely little Bloody Mary ….
Cheesy Monkey Bread with George’s® Bloody Mary Mix
32 oz. package white bread dough from the freezer section, thawed according to directions (feel free to use homemade dough)
3/4 cup George’s® Spicy Bloody Mary Mix
1 stick unsalted butter (8 Tbs)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
8 oz. block Monterey Jack, 1/2 grated and 1/2 cubed into 24 pieces
Set your oven rack to the bottom third of the oven leaving plenty of space for the monkey bread to rise as it bakes. Generously grease a 9- or 10-inch tube or Bundt pan and set aside.
In a small bowl, microwave the George’s® and butter just until the butter has melted. Stir in the Romano or Parmesan and set aside.
Divide the dough into 24 equal portions. Press one cube of cheese into each piece of dough and roll into a ball, making sure to encase the cheese completely.
Dip each dough ball into the butter mixture and roll around to cover completely. Put the first twelve into the tube/Bundt pan in an even layer. Sprinkle with half the grated Monterey Jack. Repeat with the second twelve and second half of the grated Monterey Jack.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm spot for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. This may up to 2 hours if your house is chilly. About 1/2 an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 350°.
Once the dough has risen, remove the plastic wrap and put the pan into the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the sides from the pan. Invert out of the pan onto a plate and then turn upright onto your serving dish. Enjoy!