A hot dog is the most All-American sandwich that I can think of. So it is fitting to serve this sandwich on the Fourth of July. Hot dogs can be simple sandwiches or quite creative and elaborate ones. My daughter’s favorite restaurant in Rochester, New York, where she was attending college, was “DogTown.” We had to go there every time we took a trip to visit her and I have to say, I enjoyed the restaurant as much as my daughter did. Her favorite menu choice was the “Junk Yard Dog” plate. Really “a meal-in-one” or a couple of meals.
I’m learning that most large cities have favorite restaurants featuring hog dogs and our family seems to have visited several of them. My son loved the “Dat Dog” restaurant in New Orleans and we’ve been there more than once. My favorite choice there is a hot dog wrapped in cornbread. Many of their sandwiches are made with sausage including alligator sausage.
From my traveling experiences, it appears that Chicago is quite the city for restaurants featuring hot dogs. I’m sure Chicago has many other types of restaurants besides hot dog chains, but you wouldn’t know it from our gastronomic experiences there. A couple of years ago, we stopped and ate at “Wieiner’s Circle,” a hot dog restaurant where you sat at picnic tables. The waitresses hollered insults at the customers as they ordered their food at the window. Here’s a memory of our trip to Chicago about 7 years ago now.
Several weeks ago, we passed through the Chicago area again on a whirl wind auto trip across the country. Here we are watching tornado-type clouds in the distance as we drove past Toledo. But we were traveling east to west, and tornadoes go west to east, so not to worry.
We spent the night in a Chicago suburb and and our hosts asked if we’d like to go eat hot dogs. We answered, “you betcha’,” (a.k.a. Yankee dialect for, “yes, we’d like to go eat at the hot dog restaurant.”) So we ate supper at “Portillos,” a restaurant chain begun in 1963 in Chicago featuring hot dogs. I ordered a loaded hot dog which included red onions and jalapeno peppers as toppings.
Meanwhile, at the Rochester, New York, restaurant, most of the hot dogs served at “DogTown” are named with dogs in mind. I like the “Cincinnati Red Dog” with chili & cheese sauce and the “Mongrel” with sauteed onions and sauerkraut. The restaurant uses “Zweigle’s”, a German-style frank, and French bread for the bun — not so soft — it can hold a hot dog with lots of toppings. This restaurant has mastered the art of serving hog dogs in a very clever way.
My Hot Diggity Dog
I don’t purchase hot dogs very often and am sort of particular about how I prepare them. So, here’s my take on hot dogs for the Fourth of July.
- I only purchase all-beef hot dogs. Why? I don’t know. Guess I worry about what’s in the hot dogs and the flavor of the all-beef ones seems to be a bit milder. I also try to find long hot dogs that are “bun length.” Might as well fill up the bun.
- I like to wrap the hot dogs in thin sliced bacon and broil them rather than boiling the wieners on the stove. Seems like the flavor is better.
- But a word of caution. Bacon shrinks, so wrap very loosely around the hot dog — and past the ends of the wiener. Place the wieners about 6 inches from the broiler and on a baking sheet lined with foil. Turn the wieners over after 5 minutes, then turn again after 2 minutes. Then watch closely. Once the bacon begins to cook, the hot dogs and bacon burn rapidly. Here are the loosely wrapped wieners ready for broiling.
- .I like hot dog buns which are split along the top. The idea of using a firmer bun which doesn’t fall apart when you add all the stuff is a good, too.
- For a chili dog, I used purchased chili. Why? The meat is ground finely and this is one time where convenience is nice.
- For toppings, anything is the limit. Right now, I’m stuck on the idea of pickled vegetables. So I’m making fresh pickled cabbage slaw, red onions, cucumber slices and jalapeno peppers.
For the pickling brine, I use a recipe adapted from a Martha Stewart magazine. It is a sweet and sour brine, not salty at all. It just sets off the flavors of the fresh vegetables perfectly. Sorry, I’ve got to copy this idea. The ingredients — apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt — are boiled. Shred the vegetables using a julienne slicer placed on a narrow setting. Then immerse the shredded vegetables in the brine. I place a small plate on top of the vegetables in the brine to press down. And I place the jalapeno peppers in an individual small bowl with a bit of brine so the flavors don’t mix. Drain all the vegetables well prior placing on the hot dog buns.Here are my pickled vegetables.
Since everybody likes something different, I’ll set out these toppings as well as chili, shredded cheddar cheese, ketchup, relish, mustard, sliced tomatoes, finely diced raw onions, and anything else I can think of in the mean time. Perhaps a side of baked beans and my marinated cucumbers and a cold, cold beverage. Hope your family enjoys a patriotic holiday, too!
Hot Diggity Dog
- 8 hot dogs (one 15 oz package) of all beef, bun-length hot dogs
- 8 slices thinly cut bacon (about 1/2 of a 16 oz package)
- 8 hot dog buns
- 1 recipe pickled vegetables
- assorted toppings including Wolf chili (heated), shredded cheddar cheese, ketchup, relish, mustard, finely sliced onions, tomato slices
Instructions and Steps:
- Loosely wrap each hot dog with a piece of bacon, placing bacon past the ends of the hot dog.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place bacon wrapped hot dogs on foil. Broil about 6″ away from the heat source. Turn after 5 minutes. Then turn again after 2 minutes. Then watch closely. Once the hot dogs and bacon begin to cook, they will will burn rapidly. Remove from oven when bacon is nicely browned.
- Transfer to hot dog buns.
- Pass and serve with assorted toppings including pickled fresh vegetables, Wolf chili (heated), shredded cheddar cheese, ketchup, relish, mustard, finely sliced onions, tomato slices.
Fresh Pickled Vegetables
- 2-1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 small jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
- 1/2 head cabbage, finely shredded (about 4 cups shredded)
- 1 medium red onion, finely shredded
- 1 medium seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
Instructions and Steps:
- Bring apple cider vinegar, sugar and salt to boil in medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Cook until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Slice the jalapeno peppers thinly by hand. Transfer about 1/2 cup of the brine to a small bowl and add the jalapeno peppers. Stir to combine. Cover and chill in refrigerator.
- Using a julienne slicer placed on a narrow setting, shred the cabbage and red onion and slice the cucumber.
- Add these vegetables to the brine in the sauce pan. Place a plate over the vegetables to press down. Cool. When the vegetables have cooled off, transfer to a medium bowl along with the brine. Cover and continue to chill in refrigerator.
- Pickled vegetables may be made a day ahead of time.
- When ready to serve hot dogs, drain the pickled vegetables well, including jalapeno peppers, and place on a serving platter. Pass and let individuals fix hot dogs as desired.