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Hot Dog Styles


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I have a confession to make.

For years, I have been a fan (in the sense of fanatic) and avid advocate of a very particular style of hot dog: the NY system weiner. A food form indigenous to Rhode Island that alleges to hail from Coney Island (a dubious claim, most likely a marketing gimmick), the NY system weiner is a smallish length of dog, grilled without marks for for a good long while on a flat grill, and served in a soft bun with minced onions, mustard, a finely ground beef "chili sauce," and celery salt. This, my friends, is an astoundingly good thing.

I've never really considered that any other hot dog preparation could be nearly as good. However, in November and then again earlier this month, when I went to Pink's in LA, I had a moment of hesitation, particularly when feeling the pop of a fine frank casing, a textual element missing from the NY system dog. But I couldn't turn my back on my wonderful weiner. Until now.

Friends, I want to tell you that the best franks are neither NY systems or Pink's chili dogs. They are Sonoran bacon-wrapped hot dogs. In particular -- and, though I've been only once to only one location serving said items, I am now very certain of the following statement, just as certain as I was of the NY system superiority three weeks ago -- the finest hot dogs in the entire world are currently being served at El Guero Canelo, a taco and dog cart turned outdoor food mecca in South Tucson, Arizona.

Despite my absolute belief that my post-conversion convictions are utterly correct, I have a tiny sliver of self-awareness that suggests some others may have similar convictions. So what's your preferred style, dog?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I'm not a huge fan of hot dogs but when I have one they need to be well grilled. Fixin's include sauerkraut, deli mustard, ketchup and fried onions. Of course the bun needs to be toasted. Bacon wrapped? how could that possibly be bad?

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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They must be all beef. They should be grilled over flames. They must be in a good bun. They must be garnished only with yellow mustard (no fancy stuff!!) and onions (raw and or fried).

umm... if they're chicken dogs they should have bbq sauce grilled on 'em. but they shouldn't be chicken, :laugh:

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My favorite 'hot dog' borders on the edge of what a hot dog is.

Where do you draw the line between hot dog and sausage? Is it fineness of the meat grind? Is it a certain level of spiceyness? Is it the size or shape of the weiner?

Well, my favorite hot-dog/sausage itself is the 7-11 Bahama Mamma. It is a very fine grind, like a hot-dog, and has a psuedo casing (it doesn't snap really, but I don't think it is bare). The spiceyness is what I love about it, it isn't flavored with carribbean spices as the name would suggest, nor is it your typical italian sausage, more of a red-hot, which really makes me think it is a hot-dog. Plus, it is easily a 1/4 lbs if not more.

What to put on it? Everything of course, sauerkraut, jalapenos, raw onions, nacho cheese sauce, chili, dill pickle slices, sub hots, mustard, mayo, sweet peppers, and anything else the 7-11 condiment bar might have availible (except sweet relish, blech to sweet relish, or bread and butter pickles for that matter, hey, even I have things I won't eat).

He don't mix meat and dairy,

He don't eat humble pie,

So sing a miserere

And hang the bastard high!

- Richard Wilbur and John LaTouche from Candide

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I rarely buy hot dogs, so I don't have a favorite brand. But as for fixings, I love a good Chicago-style hot dog. I also like anything served in a ballpark topped with mustard, ketchup, and onions from the little hand-crank machine -- although I think that has more to do with ambiance than the actual hot dog.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I'd say my first adult epiphany with hot dogs came at Top Dog in Berkeley, CA. That said, my favorite there wasn't exactly a hot dog, but the Bockwurst. A white, fine grained (emuslified?) dog that I believe was made from veal and pork. What I loved about Top Dog was the simple quality and system. About a dozen or so different variety of sausages ranging from classic hot dogs to fennel studded calabrese were lined up, slowly cooking on the cooler side of a large flat-top. As one was ordered, it was simply moved to the hotter side for a brief finishing. The resulting nicely browned dog was served on a great roll (soft, fat, and studded with sesame seeds). A condiment bar with the usual suspects was there. What struck me at the time was that here was a place that served only dogs and achieved variation through different sausages, not through an endless choice of silly toppings.

Years later, I was working at Oliveto in Oakland and was in charge of sausage making. The chef and I spoke of working on making an emuslified hot dog for a company picnic but it never happened.

These days, I get my dog fix at one of two places: At Durham Bulls baseball games and, more commonly, at Costco of all places. One of the greatest lunch deals going. For $1.50, you get a big all-beef Kosher frank on a good bun with a large fountain drink. Mind you, I only get one if I happen to be shopping there, which is more than I can say for the crowds who seem to descend on the place during the noon hour.

My usual combo: onions, kraut, and deli mustard.

Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

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But as for fixings, I love a good Chicago-style hot dog.

Do tell: what exactly does that mean for you? Favorite places?

And ditto, detlefchef:

Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

What, praytell, is a "Skyline Coney"??

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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My favorite toppings for hot dogs were co-opted from my father. He used to eat Best's Kosher Dinner Franks topped with sliced raw onion, ketchup and kim chee. That's right, kim chee.

It's really delicious, kind of like spicy sauerkraut. Just don't breathe on anyone immediately after consumption.

“How can a nation be great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”

-Julia Child

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Hot dogs need only yellow mustard and sauerkraut with a nice soft bun. In college we used to go to this little soda-shop type place that must have been at least 70 years old. They had the best hotdogs ever - or at least it seemed that way. The buns were so light they melted in your mouth. Then on the way out you could buy their homemade chocolates.

I've been to Costco and noticed the l-o-n-g lines waiting for the hotdogs as soon as the place opens. Not sure if it's worth standing in another line tho...

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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I can adore American hot-dogs. Kosher all-beef hot dogs when they're good are very, very good. Nathan's at 2 in the morning on the coldest night in the winter for three hot-dogs, a chowmein burger, a lobster roll, two orders of French fries and all is well. And even a Sabrett hot-dog from a street-side stand (spicy onions, mustard, ketchup, the works)

But when it comes to out-and-out favorites - its got to be the knockwurst and/or bratwurst offered at the street-side stand oppostie the railroad station in Wiesbaden, Germany. A little old lady, an equally little old man, and knockwurst and bratwurst good enough for me to schedule all train trips within Germany with a stop over in Wiesbaden!!!! Accompanied by nothing more than a bit of good sharp mustard and beer (straight from the can). God's in her heaven and all's well on earth.

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Ted's Hot Dogs in Buffalo. The REAL New York hot dog champ. Grilled over charcoal, poked and prodded so it splits open, looking like the cook burned the dog, washed down with "bug juice" aka loganberry juice. Heaven.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

What, praytell, is a "Skyline Coney"??

That'd be with Cincinnati-style chili.

I've seen an explanation for why Midwestern hot dogs are called "Coneys" or "Coney Islands" (and why diners in MI are called "Coney Island"), but have forgotten...

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Those Sonoran dogs -- dark charr all around -- also raise another issue: donenesss. Warmed through? Grill marks? Burnt to bursting? Discuss.

In our house, welldone rules. My husband used to have a system at Yankee Stadium. We'd have to get our hotdogs first thing, b/c that's how you got the welldone ones. And, now, at the Toledo Mud Hens ballpark, he lurks around at all of the stands trying to find the one with the most welldone franks. He's kind of a hotdog stalker.

(I notice myself switching back and forth from hotdog to frank. I grew up saying frank - that's what my dad says. Here in the midwest, it's always hotdog, and I don't think my daughter would know what I meant if I said "frank.")

Danielle Altshuler Wiley

a.k.a. Foodmomiac

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By far the best hot dog I've ever eaten is from Lobel's in NY.

http://www.lobels.com/store/main/item.asp?item=116

They are so popular with customers (and they don't have them all the time), they sell out really quickly. Expensive, but well worth it. As for toppings, I can go a lot of different ways, but tend to fall back to my roots and have them Chicago style.

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These days, I get my dog fix at one of two places:  At Durham Bulls baseball games and, more commonly, at Costco of all places.  One of the greatest lunch deals going.  For $1.50, you get a big all-beef Kosher frank on a good bun with a large fountain drink.  Mind you, I only get one if I happen to be shopping there, which is more than I can say for the crowds who seem to descend on the place during the noon hour.

For years, my regular routine at Costco was to make the rounds of all the nice folks handing out food samples while incidentally getting my grocery shopping done, and then to hit the hotdog stand. I'd always choose the Polish sausage over a regular frank, and top it with brown mustard and as much sauerkraut as would fit without falling off. It's been awhile since I let my Costco membership lapse, but IIRC they'd get a nice all-over browning on their dogs, and use decent rolls--not standard hotdog rolls but something like a slimmed-down French roll.

Actually, my preferred way of having a hotdog cooked is not on a flat griddle but on a grill, long enough so that it has noticeable grill marks but still juicy, not overdone. I actually prefer my roll untoasted, so that the condiments and the dog's juices sop into the insides and almost melt the bread-surfaces right around the dog. For-real spicy brown mustard and good mellow sauerkraut, preferably pre-warmed, are musts. Other condiments as the spirit moves me--I prefer dill relish to sweet, but sometimes the sweet relish is a nice contrast against other more pungent toppings. Catsup is a no-no, but then I have no use for catsup on burgers and fries either.

I keep meaning to check out Pink's. I've got an LA run slated for the end of this month--maybe I'll go then.

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But as for fixings, I love a good Chicago-style hot dog.

Do tell: what exactly does that mean for you? Favorite places?

And ditto, detlefchef:

Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

What, praytell, is a "Skyline Coney"??

Skyline is a famous chili place in Cinci. There are basically two competing franchises (Skyline and Gold Star (I think it's Gold Star?)) that make Cincinnati Chili. Skyline is fit for human consumption, Gold Star is for luddites and beasts. The chili itself was apparently developed by some Greek brothers way back and is distinctive for it's inclusion of cinnamon. Otherwise, it's your basic ground beef chili. It is typically served over spaghetti with onions and cheese. Some people add beans, but those people are lame (I actually like chili with beans, but not this kind). A coney is a small hot dog served with some of the chili on top. You typically order them a few at a time.

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For years, my regular routine at Costco was to make the rounds of all the nice folks handing out food samples while incidentally getting my grocery shopping done, and then to hit the hotdog stand. I'd always choose the Polish sausage over a regular frank, and top it with brown mustard and as much sauerkraut as would fit without falling off. It's been awhile since I let my Costco membership lapse, but IIRC they'd get a nice all-over browning on their dogs, and use decent rolls--not standard hotdog rolls but something like a slimmed-down French roll.

I don't know how they did it before, but now they simmer their dogs. Which is a fine enough way to cook a standard frank IMO. And yes, the buns are good.

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There are only two ways to enjoy a dog:

1. Chicago Style

2. Naked except for Bertman's Ballpark Mustard.

Bertman's is the finest hot-dog friendly mustard in the universe. Anyone, in and around my line of sight, will be condemned to die a fiery, vicious death if cheap, yellow mustard comes within a 5-foot radius of me; or, if given the choice they choose cheap yellow crap over Bertmans.

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there's a thread devoted to those bacon-wrapped dogs.clickety

i haven't eaten a hotdog in decades, but my iron-stomached chef-son swears by these!

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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But as for fixings, I love a good Chicago-style hot dog.

Do tell: what exactly does that mean for you? Favorite places?

And ditto, detlefchef:

Now my wife, on the other hand, is from Cinci, so her favorite is a Skyline Coney.

What, praytell, is a "Skyline Coney"??

For me, a Chicago-style dog means neon green relish, bright yellow mustard, tomato slices, a pickle spear, onions, hot peppers, and celery salt on a poppyseed bun. I was fortunate enough to live in Chicago for a while where I had places like Gold Coast Hot Dogs & Fluky's Hot Dogs to pick from.

Now I'm in Maine, home of the forbidden red hot dogs (it's amazing how good several red dyes combined can be). But when I get a little homesick for the Windy City, there's a place in Maine called Chicago Dogs which not only has the hot dogs, but lots of memorabilia of the Cubs, Bears, and more.

Tammy Olson aka "TPO"

The Practical Pantry

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I replied earlier but then got to thinking..... what about corn dogs? Do they count? I had my first one just 1 year ago at a fair, and it was interesting, something I'd eat maybe just a few times each year. Any comments?

Burgundy makes you think silly things, Bordeaux makes you talk about them, and Champagne makes you do them ---

Brillat-Savarin

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