Thursday, November 23, 2017
Cooking

Salute the baseball season with dressed-up hot dogs

RECOMMENDED READING


At its essence, a hot dog is just a mild sausage in a bun. Nothing terribly complicated about that, until geographic preferences are considered, some so strong that they might bring dissenters to blows.

A Jersey dog is deep-fried and piled with fried potatoes. In Cincinnati, they like them dripping with thin, spicy chili without beans. Chicagoans pile on the toppings — mustard, sweet pickle relish, onion, tomato, pickled sport peppers (hot yellow chiles), celery salt and a dill pickle spear on a poppy-seed roll — and hope they don't tumble out and down the front of their shirts. Out West just about anything goes, including nacho cheese and avocado.

A Florida hot dog doesn't have much distinction, but we could start a tradition with a Cuban sandwich-style dog dressed with melted Swiss cheese, yellow mustard and a dill pickle. Or maybe a Tarpon dog piled with tomatoes, cucumbers, green pepper, kalamata olives and feta cheese. Still, just like the rest of America, we like hot dogs, especially at outdoor parties and baseball games.

We are thinking about hot dogs because the Tampa Bay Rays are back at Tropicana Field, opening the season against the Baltimore Orioles. Our Pavlovian response to the crack of the bat is a hot dog piled with toppings, a cold beer and peanuts.

Besides the toppings, many people are loyal to a brand, and among the most popular are Nathan's, Oscar Mayer, Hebrew National, Ball Park and Vienna. It's such a beloved treat that even nonmeat eaters have demanded vegetarian varieties, often called "tofu pups."

There are a number of ways to cook them, including boiling, steaming, pan-frying and even microwaving. Each enhances the flavor in a different way. Grilling leaves those appealing char-stripes, and that's the preparation method we are recommending today to go with some innovative topping ideas.

How about it, slugger? Ready to trade your relish for pickled jalapeno? Or transform your sauerkraut dog into a Reuben on a bun by adding Swiss cheese and Thousand Island? Remember, if you want the cheese to melt, shred it finely and place it on top of the hot dog as soon as it comes from the grill or melt it on the bun under the broiler or on a closed grill.

The drippier the toppings, the sturdier the bun needs to be.

The dogs

Here are some ideas, inspired by foodnetwork.com and other Internet recipe sites, to get you started:

Southwest Dog

Wrapped in bacon and grilled; topped with pinto beans, tomato, onion, avocado and cilantro.

Reuben Dog

Sauerkraut heated with caraway seeds, Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and dill pickle chips.

Fugetaboutit Dog

Sauteed peppers (red and green), onions and garlic stewed with diced tomatoes.

Cuban Dog

Swiss cheese, mustard and dill pickles.

Crunchy-Corn Dog

Chili beans, shredded cheddar, pickled jalapenos and crushed Fritos.

Far East Dog

Brush with hoisin or plum sauce before grilling. Garnish with sliced cucumbers, scallions, cilantro and more sauce.

Guacamole Dog

Guacamole, sour cream, diced tomatoes and onions.

BBQ Dog

Brush dogs with barbecue sauce before grilling then top with coleslaw.

Real Hot Dog

Shredded jalapeno Jack cheese and sliced pickled jalapenos.

SKINNY Dog

Turkey dog or tofu pup with mustard, ketchup and dill pickle relish. Whole wheat bun, of course.

Onion Dog

Saute 1 sliced onion in vegetable oil; add 3 tablespoons ketchup, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 ½ cups water and cayenne and paprika; simmer until thick.

Philly Cheesesteak Dog

Melted cheese (Velveeta!), sauteed peppers and onions and a dash of hot sauce.

Comments
Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Five ideas for easy Thanksgiving appetizers

Thanksgiving can put a heavy burden on the host. We’ve assembled five appetizers that are quick and easy to prep. Some, like our risotto balls and goat-cheese figs, cater to vegetarian diets, so you can be sure to please all your guests. Even i...
Published: 11/21/17
Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Five ideas for cooking with fresh cranberries

Cranberry sauce has long been a fixture on the holiday table. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ocean Spray, the popular producer of cranberry sauce, cans about 70 million tins of the stuff a year, 85 percent of which gets sold between Thanksgiving a...
Published: 11/21/17
Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Tips for first-time Thanksgiving hosts (or really, any of us)

Take small bites.This may be the most crucial advice for Thanksgiving hosts who donít have years of cooking and coordinating experience to provide the confidence that comes with leading the charge on the yearís biggest cooking day.Itís the first thin...
Published: 11/20/17
How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

How to make a pie from scratch: filling ideas, decorating tips, crust recipes and more

Perfect your crust. Try new filling recipes. Learn some decorating tricks. And prepare for the biggest pie day of the year: Thanksgiving. † From apple to thyme You’ve got the crust down. Now it’s time to choose a filling for your holid...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

Thanksgiving 101: Everything you need to prepare for the big cooking day

From appetizers to pies and everything in between, we’re here to help you put together a low-stress Thanksgiving spread. Here are a few ideas, and be sure to check out our Thanksgiving special report for more tips on preparing for the big day. ...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

Thanksgiving sides beyond the classics: corn casserole, Brussels sprouts salad, pecan pie carrots

There are probably a handful of essentials, things you must have on the Thanksgiving table lest some family members begin to riot. But I find there are often a couple of slots open for new things, chances to get weird or creative or, gasp, healthy. ...
Published: 11/17/17
How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

How to make solid turkey gravy before Thanksgiving Day

As far as we’re concerned, anything you can make in advance of actual Thanksgiving Day is a good thing, and this make-ahead gravy fits the bill. Plus, Tucker Shaw of America’s Test Kitchen says it tastes just as good as if you made it wi...
Published: 11/17/17
How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

How to plan your Thanksgiving menu

Planning a really good menu is the stealth approach to being a really good cook. Here are some tips from the experts. New York Times Put some thought into the menu What leaves an impression is not only the dishes you can make, but also how they t...
Published: 11/17/17
Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

Everything you need to know to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey

The turkey is the unquestioned star of the Thanksgiving meal. It can be the most daunting part as well. But with a little planning and care, it doesn’t have to be. † Before you start • A decent roasting pan, one heavy enough that it wo...
Published: 11/16/17
Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

Taste test: prepared mashed sweet potatoes

If you want to spend more time with your family and friends this holiday season and less time in the kitchen, our judges suggest serving Hormelís mashed sweet potatoes. No need to wash, peel and heat potatoes. Just pop the container in the microwave ...
Published: 11/16/17