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foodobsessed

Hot Dogs

159 posts in this topic

I'm newly turned onto the beauty of our all-American friend the hot dog. I've been frequenting many stands lately (thanks to the advice of hollyeats.com....thanks Holly!) and experimenting with different brands at home. I'm curious as to what your favorite brand is and how you like the dog and bun prepared (boiled, fried, grilled, etc.).

Right now I'm into a grilled Usinger on a buttered grilled roll. Had 2 for lunch today. Mmmmm...

Also, I was told that Best's was a good brand to try. I live here in NJ and was fortunate to pick up a pack recently and found them kinda tasteless personally.


To eat good food is to be close to God." -Big Night

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The SF Chronicle recently did a taste test of 15 all-beef hot dogs; Schwarz 49ers came out on top.

Chronicle article

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Foodobsessed,

You live in Jersey and had 2 Usinger's franks for lunch today? Did you get them in Jersey? And if so, where? I order these franks from the company about twice a year. I'm expecting a shipment next week. Only once did I see them in a store and that was about 2 years ago in a Foodtown. I've been unsuccesfull trying to get them to stock them again. Did you have the beef and pork frank or the all beef? I like the beef and pork, but prefer their beef franks. Very spicy with lots of flavor.

My favorite beef franks are Usinger's, Best, Sabrett, Hummel's and Boar's Head. Nathan's, Thumann's (beef), Hebrew National and others are good also. I disagree that Best's is kind of tasteless. I know of many people who think they are too spicy. And they are spicy compared to a less agressively spiced beef and pork dog. The only time I had a Best's dog that was tasteless was when I had one from a streetcart that was sitting in the water too long. Best is a little less spicy than Sabrett and Usinger's (Nathan's also) but I love their unique taste. These dogs have, in my opinion, the perfect blend of spices for a beef dog. Not too much, not too little. Thumann's, Boars Head, and Lobel's ($14.99 per lb) are examples of quality beef dogs that have a little less spice than Best. Very good dogs, but I like the flavor of Best's more. The three just mentioned are considerably spicier than BallPark or Oscar Mayer all beef dogs. Guess it depends on what your taste is.

I prefer my dogs to have a natural casing. If you look hard enough you can find Sabrett or Nathan's in certain supermarkets (A&P and some Pathmarks) with the casing. For Best's, you have to go to the factory. I do, and usually buy their 5 to a lb dog that is served at Syd's. Have you been there? They serve the best beef dog around. Steeped in water (simmerred, not boiled) than charbroiled. A smaller version of this dog is served at Father & Son in Linden (griddled) and Jerry's in Elizabeth (simmerred than finished off on a griddle). Almost all of the Italian Hot Dog restaurants serve Best. These dogs are deep fried. The oil really brings out the spices (garlic and paprika) in this dog making it the perfect choice to have with the deep fried peppers, onions, and potatoes that come with this sandwich.

For a German style beef and pork dog, my favorite is Thumann's. The ones that come 6 to a lb in the blue and white package. These dogs taste best cooked slowly on a griddle. Similar in taste, though milder is Hofmann's from Syracuse. Second, in my opinion to Thumann's. Available at Wegmans. I also like Schaller & Weber, Schickhaus, and some of the franks made locally in German butcher shops.

Thumann's makes a dog especially for deep frying. This is the dog served at Rutt's Hut, Libby's, Hiram's, Johnny and Hanges, and others. Only available from a Thumann's distributor. As for cooking methods, I prefer to cook a German style dog on the griddle. For the bun, I either put it on the griddle or heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds. I don't like butter. For a beef dog, I like to simmer in water and throw it on the Weber. Sometimes I'll cook it on the griddle. On occassion, I'll just bring water to a boil, shut it off, throw some dogs in, cover the pot and heat for 10 minutes. But I won't do this with a milder dog containing pork as I don't feel that this method brings out the flavor as well as grilling or frying.


John the hot dog guy

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Greetings Foodobsessed,

Glad I could help with your dog quest.

Only homecooked dog meal better than two Usingers all beef, natural casing franks on toasted buttered buns is three Usingers all beef, natural casing franks on toasted buttered new england style hot dog buns.

Maybe with a little "Factory Mustard" from Raye's Mustard Mill in Maine. They ship too. Here and Here.

Not that I would take issue with Hot Dog John who is the one who pointed me to most of the Jersey dogs that my site has pointed you to.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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If Holly likes it, I'm sold. But what item do I order? Their website lists like 10 different kinds of weiners/frankfurters on the "Link sausage" page. Is it item number 2115? Also, since you have to order 6 pounds worth, does Usinger's have any other exceptional items I should try? I am a big sausage fan, but six pounds of hot dogs might be overkill.. Then again, it might make great gifts now that it's summertime. Wonder if they can get it here in time for Father's Day? :biggrin:


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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First decision - 4/5 to a pound (depending on dog) or 8 to a pound. The 4/lb are better split and grilled. The 8/lb can be grilled whole or split.

Next decision - all beef or all angus beef. I'm fine with the all beef wiener as it comes with a natural casing. Natural means animal intestine, which is the classic German hot dog casing. I think it's pig for the smaller dogs, and sheep for thicker ones. John can correct me if I've got that wrong. If you're not all that excited about eating intestines with your hot dog you can order the no casing products.

Getting specific, I'd suggest you order an assortment of #2290 8/lb natural casing beef wieners, #2115 4-5/lb natural casing beef frankfurters, and some 7348 natural casing 5/lb certified angus natural casing franks. That way you can compare the angus with the all beef and see if you can tell the difference.

And you can't order from Usingers without including their fresh brats, 2157, 6 lb minimum order. Maybe more than you intended, but you'll score major points with any friends you choose to share them with.

Enjoy.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Item 2115 are their excellent beef dogs. A little bigger than their beef wieners (2290). Both good choices, but the bigger frankfurters have a hog casing which is much tougher than the sheep casing used for the wieners. I just ordered a few pounds of the Angus beef franks (7348) which have the better sheep casing and Angus beef. Plus it is the same price (actually a cent cheaper) than the beef wiener. The recipe is the same, and it's hard to tell the difference between their regular beef and Angus. I think the Angus may be a little juicier.

Even I don't order 6 pounds of hot dogs. Let me suggest the fresh brats and the beef summer sausage.


John the hot dog guy

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Holly,

You posted while I was typing my post! Anyway, I contacted Usinger's in the past, and they told me that the tougher hog casing was used for the bigger frankfurters (6 to a lb and bigger) while sheep is used for the smaller wieners. I like a good snap, but the hog casing makes it a real job chewing. Some like it that way. I'm also looking forward to trying the fresh brats. Previously I've only had the cooked brats from Usinger's. Near me, I have the Union Pork Store, which makes excellent brats, and Johnsonville, which is from Wisconsin. They are the only company that has close to national distribution. I started buying their fresh brats, and I think I prefer them to the cooked ones. Looking forward to trying Usinger's. Everything I've ordered is top quality.


John the hot dog guy

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The Usinger bratwursts are also very good -- Trader Joes carries them.

Alas, in Philadelphia, all that Trader Joes carries are the cooked brats. A different beast from fresh brats. Very good, but not as good as fresh brats.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The Usinger bratwursts are also very good -- Trader Joes carries them.

Alas, in Philadelphia, all that Trader Joes carries are the cooked brats. A different beast from fresh brats. Very good, but not as good as fresh brats.

Ah, ok, I may have to try ordering some of the fresh ones in the fall again.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Jason,

Does Trader Joes carry the fresh or cooked Usinger's brats? I know there's one in Westfield, but I haven't been there. Do they carry Usinger's hot dogs also?


John the hot dog guy

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Every time I post, someone answers my question before I get it up here!


John the hot dog guy

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Jason,

          Does Trader Joes carry the fresh or cooked Usinger's brats? I know there's one in Westfield, but I haven't been there. Do they carry Usinger's hot dogs also?

I bought some about 2 months ago at the one in Florham Park. I only saw the cooked brats, but they may have been out of the dogs then.

EDIT: According to the traderjoes.com site, they have a TJ in Westwood now. Cool!


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Jason,

Does Trader Joes carry the fresh or cooked Usinger's brats? I know there's one in Westfield, but I haven't been there. Do they carry Usinger's hot dogs also?

I take up few causes. One of them has been to convince the buyers at Trader Joe's headquarters to carry Usinger Hot Dogs. Makes sense to me. Usingers are often rated the top dog in the country. They carry Usinger Cooked Brats. So why not bring in their dogs too.

Got a typical corporate kiss off letter, thanking me for my suggestion, but no.

Maybe if some other eGulleters took up the cause....


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

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I'm going to contact Trader Joes. I'm also trying to get Foodtown to restock Usinger's. It's a pain ordering them and having to get 6 pounds. And getting them frozen. And paying a lot in shipping. I think I'll talk to Wegmans also.


John the hot dog guy

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Thanks for the great advice, you guys! According to the website, the minimum order is 6 pounds, but does not have to be all the same item. So I went with:

3 pounds beef wieners (8/lb)

2 pounds beef frankfurters (4/lb)

3 pounds fresh bratwurst (4-5/lb)

1 package CAB franks (5 pcs)

I have quick access to a deep freezer at my mother-in-laws, which is where I store all my meats anyway. Sounds like it's time for a hot dog party!


Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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Usinger's veal wiener for the ultimate dog!

Natural casing, special order by the box. Do not confuse with Usinger knackwurst.

Since we are a 45 minute trip away from Usinger's, we periodically stop and pick up boxes of brats, veal wieners and odd and ends. Usinger's uses no MSG which a few other made in Wisconsin brands use and the quality is impeccable. -Dick

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Other than all the brands John has mentioned ( which I use and love), is Schickhaus.

I find them in only certain Shoprite stores and Pathmark.

They are very large, I am thinking 5 or 6 to a pound and when grilled have a subtle bacon-y flavor.

What say you John.

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John,

No, unfortunately I can't find Usinger's here in NJ. I order them like you. Such a shame, and I can't understand why Trader Joe's will carry the Brats but not the dogs. Makes no sense to me!

After your description, I want to try Best's again. I made them myself by just grilling them on the grill, and I did find them pretty tasteless. Certainly doesn't fit your description, so I'm curious to try them again.


To eat good food is to be close to God." -Big Night

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Other than all the brands John has mentioned ( which I use and love), is Schickhaus.

I find them in only certain Shoprite stores and Pathmark.

They are very large, I am thinking 5 or 6 to a pound and when grilled have a subtle bacon-y flavor.

What say you John.

I've mentioned Schickhaus in my list of favorite beef and pork dogs. They are 4 to a lb and made by Grote & Weigel under a private label arrangement specifically for the New Jersey market. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with a sales manager from Grote & Weigel. The Schickhaus frank is the same recipe as the G&W griddle franks that are served in the many Texas Weiner joints. The Plainfield area places that grill, rather than deep fry their dogs. Same recipe, but usually 6 to a lb rather than 4. Max's in Long Branch uses the 4 count Schickhaus. I was surprised to find out that the Galloping Hill Inn, which I prefer to Max's, and the Texas Weiner joints, uses the same recipe frank. The reason it tastes different is that the casing is different. GHI has a collagen casing while the other G&W (plus Schickhaus) have a sheep casing. I was told that the casing affects the smoking process which in turn affects the final taste. This is one of the reasons for the difference in taste. That plus temperature of the griddle and what is put on it (butter, cooking oil, or in at least one case, nothing).

Schickhaus is good; one of the best. But I prefer Thumann's. And now I can get Hofmann's at the local Wegmans.


John the hot dog guy

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John,

No, unfortunately I can't find Usinger's here in NJ. I order them like you. Such a shame, and I can't understand why Trader Joe's will carry the Brats but not the dogs. Makes no sense to me!

After your description, I want to try Best's again. I made them myself by just grilling them on the grill, and I did find them pretty tasteless. Certainly doesn't fit your description, so I'm curious to try them again.

Try them again. I'm sure you would like the natural casing dogs better. Try to make it to Syd's, Jerry's, or Father & Son (they switched to Best). All have the casings. Or if you make it to Best's, they will sell them to you. You just may find that your opinion of them is the same. They are milder than the Usinger's beef dog.


John the hot dog guy

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Anything with a natural casing.

Boiled until it open up like popcorn ----- or grilled.

Fat knockwurst or bratwurst if the mustard is good.

Chicken and Apple newbies are good, too.

Rolls HAVE to be New England Style, buttered and grilled.

NO ketchup!! Soft-cooked sauerkraut and mustard -- if it is not the yellow stuff, and I am happy.

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Went to the TJ's in Westwood today. Bought 4 packages of Usinger's pre-cooked brats.

I noticed they had the Usinger Knockwursts as well, but I didn't buy any -- I'm not normally a huge fan of pork/beef combos in a hot dog. I either like an all pork sausage or an all beef, I'm a bit strange that way (although, I admit to liking some pork/veal combos like Zweigles) Are these any good?


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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