I don’t care what anyone says, hot dogs are definitely not just for kids. Ballparks get rated for their dogs, and this morning there was a list of local golf courses, and in addition to all the other ratings, there was a rating of their hot dogs!
Count me in as a hot dog fan. In fact, a wiener chopped up with scrambled eggs makes a great breakfast. It’s one of the most flavorful of the sausage family. The late, great James Beard called it the classic of American eating, and fondly remembered the vendor that sold them late at night in Portland, Oregon, when he was a child.
There are many ways to fix a dog, and some people are almost fanatical about what’s allowed and what combination of ingredients is the best. I personally think it’s hard to go wrong. Put your favorite things on it and enjoy.
Most hot dog aficionados forbid catsup, except for children. I can’t for the life of me figure out why. If I’m sure the Hot Dog Police aren’t watching, I frequently use catsup. But then, back when I was a kid, Paul and I would make sandwiches of just bread and catsup…
You can cook the dog in simmering water, in a frying pan, or outside on the grill. Grilled tastes best, but it’s more trouble and the weather needs to cooperate. Gourmet hot dog cooks prefer steaming, which you can do in a basket in a covered pot over simmering water.
In the photo above is a Bacon Dog. The wiener has been split lengthwise almost in half, a piece of cheese inserted in the slit, and the dog wrapped in bacon. You might need a couple of toothpicks to hold this together. Cook the bacon and the wiener separately; I sometimes use pre-cooked bacon that I’ve warmed in the microwave for a few seconds.
Above is a Kraut Dog. Sauerkraut and wieners are a natural combination, and with a good mustard is hard to beat. This is also sometimes called a Polish Dog, but in that case it should be made with a Polish sausage, I guess. (You can click on these small pictures to see a larger version.)
Then we have a MexiDog, also called Perro Caliente, adorned with jalapeno chiles, salsa, chopped onion, and cilantro. Taco sauce or Tabasco will heat it up a little more.
Of course, the Chili Dog is an important part of this group. Use your favorite canned chili, and garnish it with whatever you like. In the photo on the left I’ve used shredded cheese and chopped onion. There’s a separate chili dog Cincinnati style that uses a different and delicious chili recipe.
And now to the shady side…. Here’s a Golf Dog, above, complete with mayonnaise, mustard, pickle relish, chopped onion, and (don’t tell) catsup.
There was once over in Pacific Beach a guy named Sluggo, who was from world hot dog headquarters in Chicago. He had a very successful (as far as I know) hot dog shop, with a dozen or more varieties of hot dogs. No catsup, however. On the evening news, the newscaster was covering his grand opening, and a customer ordered a Number 6 with catsup. Sluggo told him that that dog didn’t come with catsup. The customer insisted and Sluggo gave in, but not before telling him to eat it outside and don’t tell anyone where he got it. Just think, Sluggo could have been as famous as the Soup Nazi on Friends!
Sluggo always cut a small X in the end of the wiener with a knife, and then made a spiral cut around the wiener all the way from one end to the other. When grilled, the edges of the cuts brown nicely, and some of the insides get brown as well. Adds a lot of flavor. My kids used to urge me to “Sluggo the dogs, please”.
I didn’t have the ingredients handy for a photo, but you should try an authentic Chicago Dog: a Vienna hot dog on a poppy seed bun, garnished with hot mustard, sport peppers, chopped onion, chopped pickles, and green relish.
There are other variations and local traditions that you can try: In Baltimore, they split the wiener and deep fry it. In Boston they serve it with baked beans (naturally) and BBQ sauce. The famous Coney Island dog has chili, onions, and cheese. In Kansas City, you’ll find them with sauerkraut and melted cheese. New York City prefers grilled onions and yellow mustard. But no catsup…