Monday, August 6, 2012

Hot Diggity Dog

It's not an every day or even an every month occasion, but who doesn't love a good hot dog?  And I mean, a GOOD hot dog.  That's the key.  When I was a kid, my mom would only buy Oscar Mayer because they were all beef.  All of the giant packages of hot dogs in the store that were either tan or red never made it across the threshold of our house.  (It was always funny, and never got old, to sneak a big pack of red dogs in the grocery basket for mom to discover at the checkout.  &%#dammit girls!) 

Now that I have a child, I've become even pickier about hot dogs. I fell in love with Sabrett's at a hot dog cart a few years ago.  Then I actually paid attention to the commercial for Hebrew National and thought, hmmm, I like what I'm hearing.  So, I tried those and fell in love with them too.  Just recently, I finally had a Nathan's at a friend's house and, well, I think you know what I'm about to say.  So, a good quality hot dog is a must or this whole thing is an exercise in futility.  

Next, how you cook it.  We could debate this all day long.  I recently saw a post about cooking dogs in the crockpot and the comment was "tastes just like they were cooked on a roller."  Ok, is it just me?  That doesn't sell me. Rollers just remind me of those mystery meat dogs slowly riding the convenience store ferris wheel.  Boiling?  Some love it, but I don't think that's the best method either.  At least not by itself. I've always been a fan of grilling them.  And I mean grilling them.  A little char is a must and if they wrinkle a little after they come off the fire, even better! My husband boils them first then grills them for me and they are fantastic.  My friend's Eugenie's husband Mike is also a master dog griller.

Toppings.  This is the biggest area of variation on the planet. Or, close to it.  Everyone has their preference here and that's perfectly ok.  Here's mine:  mustard inside the bottom of bun, followed by some Frank's hot sauce, then the dog, a sprinking of onion, then more mustard, more hot sauce and finished with CHILI.  If you ask me, a hot dog without chili is just a waste of time.  Why bother?  The only other thing I like to add occasionally is sauerkraut but I never leave off the chili.

Which brings me to the subject of this post.  I know, finally.

It's all about chili.  Hot dog chili is not the same as a big bowl of chili.  Two completely different animals altogether.  But making it from scratch can be a challenge.  I once followed a Tyler Florence "ultimate" recipe and it was the most awful, sweet, ketchupy sauce on the planet.  I've fiddled around with this chili issue, read tons of recipes and finally have concocted what I think is the best chili the world has ever known.  And, I'm going to share it with you.

I had 3 big ol' grilled cheeseburgers that were left over from our cookout.  I put them in my food processor to get the meat finely chopped.  This is key!  Then, I put all this together:
    • 1/3 cup water
    • about 12 oz tomato sauce
    • 1/2 cup ketchup
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
    I mixed this all together on the stove and added the grilled ground beef.  I let it get to a boil, stirring frequently, then turned it down and let it simmer about 10  minutes.  

OMG! Neil and I both think what really made this a stand-out was the fact that I used the already grilled burgers rather than starting with raw meat.  The grilled flavor was pronounced and just gave the chili that "je ne sais quois." Now I told you already that having hot dogs isn't a frequent occurrence around here.  But what's even more infrequent is having more than one.  This stuff was so great, I ate 2 Nathan's dogs, dressed as described above, last night. 

And I don't care who knows it. 

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