Well, I'm sure we all agree that Michael's a great teacher, but I have to confess to being an unruly pet at best. I have a tendency to talk back and do things my own way, but it was tons of fun in this case.
I started with some wonderful short ribs (and my new show-off knife that I got myself as a birthday present)
after dicing, the meat was ground once before the cure, and then once again after.
Here's a nice clean grind with little to no fat smear
and as Michael mentioned above, there's a lot of fat. In the bowl it looked like about 45-50%, just eyeballing it.
Then the meat cured overnight before being futher seasoned and ground again. I was amazed by how much the coriander is the mystery flavor of hot dogs, something I'd never actually detected before.
One thing I checked out for Michael was whether there was a big textural difference when you do the bind in the food processor, as opposed to the stand mixer. Here you can see that when raw it looks like the mixer ( left dog) produces a much coarser bind than the processor (right dog).
It was easier to stuff the meat from the mixer, I think because more air was incorporated and it was less dense and pasty. My intrepid husband helped me with the stuffing, and we managed to do it all into sheep casings without mishap, a personal first. Later we decided that the result is a bit too skinny for a good hot dog, as you get too much bun-to-meat ratio in every bite.
I was also testing cooking the dogs in the smoker vs. cooking them in a low temp water bath. I hung the dogs to be smoked in the fridge for an hour to develop a pellicle. The soon-to-be water method dogs just rested patiently on the shelf.
This is a great use for those new silicone food loops, by the way.
Then came the hard part. The water bath-dogs went into a shallow pan to slowly cook, and I hung the smoker dogs in my smoker by one of the most improvisational systems imaginable. This is my Hot Dogs in Hell shot.
The tough thing was trying to follow Michael's instruction to smoke the dogs for one hour at 120. Have you ever tried to keep your smoker at 120? It's a total PITA, let me say. I sat by the firebox for the entire hour, feeding it one little chunk of cherry wood after another, with all the vents closed down, and even cracking open the smoking chamber from time to time, and it was still next to impossible.
So then I did a little comparison of the methods
From left to right: mixer-bound water-cooked dogs, processor water dogs, mixer-bound smoked dogs, processor smoked dogs. Here, although you can still see a mixer/processor difference in texture, it was pretty negligible in your mouth. However, the water/smoker difference was huge. To level things out a bit, I stuck one of the water dogs over the remaining flame in the smoker
So here we have a water dog that's been grilled, which is WAY better that a water dog that's just been cooked in water, but is still not nearly as good as a smoked dog.
So, you hardcore smoker folks, get ready for some finicky fun. Plan to make these on a day when you need solitude. This project will let you legitimately shoo everyone away from the smoker, as it will require your full attention, and a considerable portion of your vocabulary of colorful words and phrases as well. It's hard to do properly, but then, we love that, right? Dog challenge ahoy!
Oh, and be sure to roast those short rib bones for stock, demi-glace, or your favorite canine. And then take the fat and drippings, get them hot in a cast iron skillet, fry up some croutons of good bread in the drippings, quickly and gently add some beaten eggs and scramble them with the fat and croutons. Plop this concoction over a salad of mixed garden greens and a light vinaigrette, and there you have a really delicious and offbeat lunch that you never would have had otherwise.