Thursday, August 13, 2009

Perfect Hot Dogs Every Time (p.26)

Okay suckers, it's about to get real. As most of you are aware, I know a thing or two about hot dogs. In fact, I'm rather picky about them. So, when some cartoon cat tells me he knows how to make "Perfect Hot Dogs Every Time," the gauntlet has been thrown. Normally, I'd tell you a little about the character of Ray. However, this doesn't seem like the best recipe to introduce him. Just know that he would probably prefer to eat something fancier, but if no one's going to make anything for him, he's probably going to consider hot dogs a real accomplishment. Oh, and Ray is the Smuckles whom "Selzer & Smuckles" is named after. He's kind of a big deal. It's on.

So, anyway, like most of the recipes this week, this is more of a "method" than a true "recipe." However, it's a method I haven't tried for hot dogs before, so I'm game. It basically involves cooking them in a frying pan with a bit of water until all the water is absorbed or evaporated. Easy enough. And the dogs turned out ok. I didn't buy the fancier natural casing dogs I prefer, just a simple, all beef Farmer John stadium dog. They came out well plumped without feeling rubbery. I normally boil a pot of water, and once it's boiling, turn off the heat and throw the dogs in for ten minutes as it cools. Always perfect. I prefer steamed dogs, but I haven't really been able to try it at home (though the steamer insert that came with my new pots and pans might be able to handle it). It's hard to call these hot dogs "perfect" without trying Ray's method on a higher quality dog, but it seems to work pretty well.

Unfortunately, the rest of this recipe might as well have been the Book of the Damned. I take that back. It suggests toasting the buns, which I normally don't do, and it turned out to be a nice texture. That part was ok. The rest, though....the horrors, the horrors. Now, most hot dog aficionados will tell you there's two rules for preparing wieners (sorry, I hate that word, I just got tired of typing "dog"): 1- No ketchup for anyone over 6, and 2- Dress the dog, not the bun. The first two instructions for dog construction here? Take some ketchup and put it on the bun before you put the dog in. You might as well tell me to beat up a kitty. Don't get me wrong- I made a commitment to this project and I'm not about to let some personal preference keep me from completing this cookbook, but this was almost too much to bear. I made one dog as instructed and one with mustard, relish, and onions- a "control dog," if you will, so I could fairly judge how the prep method worked.

And how was this demon dog from beyond hell? Just as I expected- cheap tasting and unpleasant. The ketchup's acidity did not pair well with the dog meat; all I could taste was the ketchup. And, since it was underneath the frank, it made the bottom of the bun all soggy- no mean feat since the bun was toasted before we started. Who likes soggy bread? No one, that's who (strawberry shortcake is the exception, not the rule). You want a perfect dog? Make it Chicago style- all beef, natural casing dog topped with yellow mustard, white onion, and sweet relish; two tomato wedges on one side, a dill pickle spear down the other; two sport peppers (optional); serve in a warm poppy seed bun and top with celery salt. It sounds like a lot of toppings, but these flavors work like crazy! I have never made these for anyone who did not like them. You want to put ketchup on your hot dog? Fine! Have fun hitting that monolith with a bone (apologies to my wife, who likes ketchup on her hot dog, no matter what I say).

Ok, I'm done. I'll post a picture later (Unless you're reading this later and there's already a picture, in which case- you're welcome!). I'm taking a break from the cookbook this weekend because a man has to have some pizza. This is in the Constitution. Also, my birthday is Monday, so people are treating me to nice things and I won't be cooking much for a few days. Come back next week as Selzer & Smuckles continues.


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