Hot dogs, wieners, frankfurters, weenies, dogs, pups, red hots, sausages, brats. Celebrate National Hot Dog Day!
Slathered with mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or mayo, drenched in sauerkraut, chili, red onion, relish, cheese, celery salt, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, or jalapeno peppers, and boiled, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled or microwaved, these juicy gems are part of an enduring American love affair–whatever name you give them. With a side of coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad, or a favorite bag of chips, nothing else shouts “summertime” in quite the same way. In fact, what’s a state fair without our fair share of corndogs–hot dogs coated and fried in a corn breading–first introduced in Texas in 1942.
Born in Germany where they’re called Frankfurter Wurstchen (wurstchen means little sausage) and popular since the 13th Century, the thumb-shaped meat with a robust flavor was served to people during imperial coronations. According to some, however, hot dogs as we know them are as American as baseball, Frisbees, and, of course, apple pie.
Though the nation’s signature dog often gets a bad nutritional rap (nitrites unite!), Americans reportedly consume $2 billion dollars’ worth of the (high sodium) treat annually. After all, there’s always that ice cold beer or large frozen lemonade to wash it down. In fact for many, the idea of a ballgame sans steamed, fragrant red hot is like a birthday without a cake, or the fourth of July without firecrackers. It’s simply not done. And with world champions like 2011’s Takeru Kobayashi consuming 69 hotdogs (and buns!) in one 10-minute swoop, summer’s edible little icon probably won’t go away anytime soon.
Today the availability of turkey, chicken, tofu, organic, vegan, and even salmon hot dogs opens the door to a more healthful option, not to mention a taste tickling adventure. While consumers sometimes lament that meatless alternatives are also tasteless alternatives, preparation plus a grilled or toasted poppy seed bun, baguette or Kaiser roll, and some creative condiment pairings can make all the difference. Ever hear of chive cream cheese and roasted red peppers as toppers? What about brie and sun-dried tomatoes? A shmear of spicy guacamole and crushed blue corn tortilla ships goes a long way in elevating a bland tofu or veggie dog to epicurean status, as does sharp, creamy bleu cheese if you eat dairy.
Whether you choose a traditional hot dog, turkey, or chicken, or a meatless marvel, a little culinary creativity can add wow to your wiener and a little brio to your beach or backyard barbecue. Or on rainy days, divine dogs can be prepared on the stove top or baked in the oven with beans, celery, brown sugar, and more.
Hot Dogs in Tangy Barbecue Sauce
1 small onion, chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 hot dogs (or turkey or chicken hot dogs)
8 hot dog buns, split
In a heavy skillet, cook onion in hot oil over medium low heat. Stir in ketchup, celery, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, mustard, water, and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Lightly score hot dogs diagonally at one-inch intervals. Add hot dogs to sauce; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes longer. Toast split buns. Serve hot dogs and sauce over toasted buns.
Bacon-wrapped Stuffed Hot Dogs for Grilling
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 large hot dogs, knockwurst or kielbasa
1/2 ounce cheddar cheese cut into long sticks
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup chilled sauerkraut, drained and rough chopped
4 slices uncooked bacon
Vegetable oil for coating grill
4 long hot dog buns or small baguettes
Prepare grill for direct medium heat. Combine ketchup and mustard in small bowl. In a separate bowl, mix sauerkraut with chopped onion and set aside. Slice open hot dogs lengthwise, down the center, forming a deep pocket in each but not cutting through. Coat the insides with ketchup/mustard mixture.
Place a strip of cheese deep within pocket of each hot dog. Top with sauerkraut and onion. Enclose any cheese at the ends in sauerkraut also or it will drip out while grilling.
Wrap a strip of bacon around each stuffed hot dog securing with toothpicks at each end. Make sure to wrap tightly so stuffing stays in, but not so tight that when hot dog cooks and expands it will tear the bacon.
Coat grill with vegetable oil so hot dogs won’t stick. Place hot dogs on grill, stuffed side down. Grill for 2 minutes until bacon on that side is cooked, turn the hot dogs a quarter turn and grill for two more minutes. Keep turning and grilling until bacon is completely cooked, covering grill for more uniform cooking.
Grill hot dog buns or baguettes. Remove toothpicks from hot dogs and serve.
Traditional Pigs in a Blanket
8 hot dogs
Cheddar cheese slices
Canned crescent rolls
Condiments of your choice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take each hot dog and split down the middle lengthwise almost all the way through. Place a long, thick cheese slice down the middle. Separate crescent dough into triangles and wrap each hot dog starting with the side opposite the point, beginning on one end of the dog and stretching the dough a little to completely cover it, wrapping the dough around. Place dogs on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot with optional condiments.
Baked Beans and Tofu Dogs
2 cans (32 oz.) vegetarian baked beans
8 tofu hot dogs, sliced
2 medium onions, diced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar, maple sugar, or Splenda (optional)
Dice onions and slice tofu or veggie dogs into coin shapes. Spray a small amount of cooking spray info a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and hot dogs until onions are softened and hot dog slices are slightly browned. Stir in beans, Worcestershire sauce, and optional sweetener. Mixture bubbles when done.