Has there ever been any food holiday with better timing than National Hotdog Month in June? School’s out, grills are being fired up and camp grounds are full of weekend outdoor chefs! Even if you’re just hanging out on your patio or deck for a few hours, it’s like a mini-vacation, bringing back all those childhood summer memories. So let’s get to cooking up some tasty hotdogs and show off your mad grill skills to your family, friends and neighbors! Here’s a few of the most creative dogs that have stood the test of time in America! Pick your favorite or try all of them!
My personal favorite, the Chicago Dog has a long history in the Windy City. Originating on Maxwell Street in Chicago during the Great Depression, this Culinary treat was originally known as the “depression sandwich”. Because it contains so many great veggie toppings, it is often referred to as being “dragged through the garden”. Just a word to the wise though – if you’re ever in Chicago getting an authentic Chicago dog, it is in your best interest to not even mention the word catchup! To Chicagoans, this is one condiment that has no place on a hotdog and they aren’t shy about telling you so. Some hotdog joints even have signs telling visitors not to ask.
To start, a Chicago Dog must be an all-beef hotdog in natural casing that has been steamed. Some places will grill them and these are known as char-dogs. The hotdog is placed in a steamed poppy seed bun and then the fun begins! They’re topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, sliced tomatoes, a dill pickle spear, bright green sweet relish, sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. Some vendors will serve Chicago Dogs with other toppings such as lettuce, cucumbers and more traditional green relish.
If you’re making these at home, the order of toppings isn’t too important. I like to add the mustard and relish first so they tend to “hold” on to the other toppings to keep them on the dog. I then add the onions and tomatoes and wrap it all up by adding the dill pickle spear and sport peppers. The celery salt always goes on last.
Contrary to what many believe, the Coney Dog did not originate on Coney Island, New York. This chili-laden dog became popular in Michigan, especially around the Detroit area, in the early 20th century. When it comes to the toppings, there is no debate or deviations from how it was originally made: The hotdog itself is an all-beef dog in a natural casing. Add to this, an all-meat, beanless chili, diced white onions and yellow mustard. That’s it. Adding anything else is grounds for being removed from Michigan! Now in other areas, you’ll find cheese added to the fray. A Cheese Coney became popular in the Cincinnati, Ohio area and adding shredded cheese is almost always the norm there.
There is only one variation with true Coney Dogs. It involves only the amount of liquid in the chili used to grace the top of the dog. “Detroit style” uses a more runny chili while the “Flint style” uses a dry chili. Remember though – neither can include beans! They’re frowned upon almost as bad in Michigan as catchup is in Chicago!
I prefer the wetter “Detroit style” Coney and like a lot of onions on mine. And don’t tell my Michigan in-laws … but when it comes to Coneys, I must have some Cincinnati influence – I enjoy a handful of shredded cheddar cheese on mine!
Folks in the Carolinas put Cole slaw on their pulled pork sandwich so why not try it on hotdogs? Although this style is popular all across the South, it was the people of West Virginia who came up with this popular dog! It is commonly accepted that the Slaw Dog originated in Charleston, WV in the early 1930’s. Some places will include a heavily seasoned “chili” type sauce as well as the slaw.
To properly construct an authentic West Virginia Slaw Dog, slather a bit of yellow mustard on a steamed hotdog bun. Add a grilled hotdog and some diced onions, then pile on a creamy, sweet mayo-based slaw. If you prefer to add chili, do so just before adding the slaw. Adding “chili” to the Slaw Dog is referred to as an “All the Way Dog”. If you’re like many places in the South, you might enjoy the Slaw Dog with a bit more of a vinegar-based slaw instead. Either way, it’s best if the cabbage you’re using is finely chopped.
If you try this relatively new hotdog, be prepared for a flavor explosion! There are so many southwest style flavors on this dog, you will be amazed! No one knows for sure when this style was developed (probably in the 1950’s or 60’s) or even where it originated. Some claim it was in southern Arizona while others claim it originated in Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, Mexico. Regardless, this style of hotdog is extremely popular in the Tucson, Arizona area. There are versions of this dog that vary with the vendor but one thing remains constant: It all starts with a hotdog that is wrapped in mesquite smoked bacon and grilled to perfection! While they had me at “bacon”, there’s so much more to a true Sonoran Dog.
Though most Sonoran Dogs are served stuffed inside a split fresh-baked roll, you’ll find them on regular hotdog buns as well. Inside the bun, layer a spoonful of pinto beans then add the bacon-wrapped hotdog. Top this with chopped tomatoes, onions, mustard, jalapeno sauce and a touch of mayo. Other variations include adding grilled onions and jalapeno pepper slices. Sometimes you might see a touch of guacamole as well. They’re almost always served with a side grilled pepper that looks like a very light colored jalapeno.
Next to the Chicago Dog, the Sonoran Dog is one of my favorites but then again, anyone who knows my love for all things bacon would not be surprised.
VacMaster Note: If you’re headed out to a picnic or the lake, use your VacMaster to vacuum package all the tasty hotdog toppings to save time when you get there. They’ll ride safely in your cooler and make clean up a breeze when done!