Hot dog with mustard & sauerkraut
Second to Sabrett in my childhood mind was Nathan’s, specifically from the location on the boardwalk at Coney Island where we waited, sand-covered from the beach, in loooong lines and whispered urban legends to each other about dead rats floating in the soda machine (we always bought the soda anyway since we knew it was just a tantalizing lie).
Home-cooked hot dogs in my childhood home were the just-OK boiled version, but eventually, my little city-self experienced the joys of having someone actually cook a hot dog outside on a grill, and from that day forward, home-cooked took on a whole new level. Add some potato salad, grilled corn, fruit salad, and a pitcher of homemade iced tea-lemonade with a big sprig of mint floating in it… nothing could be better!
Everyone else I polled here at work also had very strong feelings about hot dogs, so I suspect that personal preference just depends on where you grew up and what nostalgic influence mapped it out for you as “the” way to enjoy your dogs.
If you’re planning your own summer hot dog picnic menu, here are some variations that folks here at Helena Food Share are sharing to inspire you:
Chicago-style hot dog
From our Development Director, Tim, who recently moved back to Montana from the Windy City, hot dogs, Chicago style:
In a poppy seed bun, top your cooked hot dog with:
Sweet pickle relish
Dill pickle slices
Small hot peppers such as sport or pepperoncini
Montana dog w/huckleberry mustard & slawTo bring a little Montana spin to your hot dog, this version involves a quick 5-minute coleslaw and huckleberry mustard:
For the mustard: stir together a tablespoon of huckleberry preserves together with 2 tablespoons of your favorite grainy mustard.
For the slaw:
1 grated carrot
1 cup shaved cabbage
1/3 cup slivered red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 finely sliced green onion
Juice of ½ a lemon
1 Tb mayonnaise
Drizzle of honey
Salt & pepper to taste
½ tsp dill
Toss together. Makes enough to top 4-6 hot dogs.
Veggie hot dog hash
For a healthier spin, our Program Manager, Mo, suggests a veggie hot dog hash.
Just toss together 4 cups of diced vegetables (such as potatoes or sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and/or mushrooms), seasonings of your choice (chives, paprika, salt, pepper, and/or a little chili powder if you want some heat), and a sprinkling of olive oil, 400 degrees, for 20 minutes, add cut up hot dogs, and roast an additional 10-15 minutes. Toss and serve.
Pan-fried hot dogs w/caramelized onions & mustard
Another favorite hot dog preparation is to split your dogs and pan fry them in a little bit of butter, then layer them on a bagel with caramelized onion and brown mustard:
To caramelize onions, thinly slice an onion and sauté in a pan over low-to-medium heat in a pat of butter and with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until they are soft and nicely browned all over.
Pigs in a blanket
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a childhood favorite demanded by own offspring when they were young: pigs in a blanket.
The easiest way to create these is to buy a package of pre-made crescent roll dough from the grocery store (the kind that is already scored into triangles), unroll it, wrap a triangle around each hot dog, starting with the wide edge first, and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes.
Finally, a few folks mentioned that the ONLY way to eat a hot dog is simply dressed with ketchup, nothing else — so for you purists, enjoy your ketchup-laden hot dogs in these last days of summer under the August sun.