Number 99 in the Top 100 (Mostly Southern) Meals of All Time.
The Southern-Style (
I have changed the name of my Top 100 Meals of All Time to what you see above. It makes more sense to me. Number 100 was Shrimp and Eggplant Casserole, and Number 99 is—The Southern-Style (Chicago) Hotdog! And we do need to get something straight right away—it’s way more Southern than Chicagoan. I use the city’s name because that’s what this hotdog was called when and where I found the basic recipe, in the June 2008 issue of Men’s Health magazine.
First of all, to be a
style hotdog, it must be beef. Beef hotdogs are okay, but I’ve been too many
times to the Alabama State Fair and the Montgomery Biscuits’ baseball games—I’ve
been ruint. If I fix a dog, and it isn’t a big ol’ Southern sausage-dog, made mostly
of pork, then I don’t want it in my hotdog bun. It’s like the difference
between real Southern barbecue and Texas barbecue—real
Southerners prefer pig barbecue. Pretend Southerners—the Texans, for instance—prefer
beef barbecue. I’ll be the first real Southerner to admit that beef barbecue is
not bad. It’s also not great, unlike real Southern barbecue. Of course, real
Southern barbecue, like most Southern foods, would never be considered a health
food. Eat it in moderation! If you can.
So . . . you must start this hotdog with the correct ingredients—and the first is a quality chunk of Southern sausage. You can pick and choose among thousands and still end up with a great dog. I prefer Hillshire Farm sausage, the ones that are hotdog-sized, but Sam’s Fireside Gourmet and Johnsonville are good, too. Just don’t look for cheap sausage dogs. This isn’t a mess-hall-feed-‘em-all-cheap-junk-food recipe we’re talking about here.
Unpack your dog or dogs, boil them for ten minutes, then sauté in a half-tablespoon of butter (the tablespoon amount is marked on the side of the butter wrapper). Cut a slice and begin sautéing the dog in a frying pan until crispy, about two-three minutes.
The second ingredient is just as important—a whole wheat hotdog bun. Don’t you dare purchase a soggy white-bread hotdog bun! Never! I find it difficult to believe that everywhere I go, people still purchase and consume, for God’s sake, white bread. Don’t do it. The stuff is tasteless and bad for you. If you’re going to buy white hotdog buns, you may as well go ahead and just fill them with cheap, chicken-filled hotdogs. My favorite buns are Nature’s Own. I think you can buy them everywhere. Take a bun, spread it apart, and drop it in the toaster. This step is crucial! The bun must be toasted. But be careful—they’re easy to burn in a toaster. Watch the bun closely. I always have to hit the cancel button on my toaster to keep the buns from burning. It’s all part of cooking. Cooking isn’t an easy-going pastime where you can toss a bunch of stuff in a pot and forget about it. If you do burn your buns, toss ‘em. They can’t be saved. The burnt taste will come through no matter how much of the crusty black stuff you shave off. Steel yourself and start over, this time paying attention.
Okay. You should be ready—one chunk of sautéed sausage, and one tanned whole-wheat bun. Don’t forget the “eat it in moderation” phrase a paragraph or two above. Next: using real mayonnaise, which to me means Hellmann’s or Kraft, in that order exactly, apply at least a tablespoon to both leaves of the bun. Add some mustard—and not any silly gourmet mustard either—use plain French’s Classic Yellow Mustard or Mister Mustard Hot Original—and a tablespoon of each of the following: sweet relish, dill relish, drained Ro-Tel Chunky Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles, and banana pepper rings (mild, hot—your choice). Sprinkle celery salt on it and dig in.
Now—pretend you’re in
Chicago, the wind is blowing icy cold off
whichever that fair city sits beside, and some
Al Capone lookalike is shooting his sub-machine gun in the next block. But you
don’t care, because you’ve got something no one else in the Great Lake
has—a genuine (sure—go ahead—pronounce it like we do—gen-you-wine),
Southern-Style Chicagoan hotdog. Ahh. Life is good. It’ll be difficult to limit
yourself to only one. Windy City
The Ingredients: Per One Dog:
1. Good quality sausage dog.
2. Whole wheat bun.
3. One tablespoon butter.
4. One tablespoon each: mayo, mustard, sweet relish, dill relish, chunky tomatoes, and banana pepper rings.
5. One teaspoon or less, celery salt.
That’s it. Gobble it down as slowly as you can. Eat another.
P.S. A note on Mister Mustard. This mustard is my favorite, but it’s difficult to find in any of the local grocery stores. I order it online. It’s well worth it. It’s made by Woeber’s, in
where the founder, Carl Woeber settled when he arrived from Germany. It’s
the only mustard I’ve ever found that has a kick to it, yet still retains a
decidedly mustard taste. I prefer the Hot Original, not the Sweet. Scott Raab,
in Esquire magazine in 2007, said
that for him, finding Mister Mustard was like meeting “the true love of mi vida
loca con condimentos,” and it was “a blessing upon every cold cut known to
humankind.” Scott prefers the sweet. I think he’s from Cleveland. I don’t think he’s a Southerner.
Stick with the Original.