How, or even whether, a hot dog
is cooked is also a matter of personal preference. While a few brave
folk love to snack on cold hot dogs straight from the package (which
is fine as they are already fully cooked when you buy them), most people
prefer the added flavor and texture imparted by their heating method
of choice. They are called hot dogs after all. Fried, steamed, grilled
or boiled, a piping hot dog in a warm roll is a tasty treat no matter
how you top it.
Grilling is Pink's preferred method
for both dog and bun. At Code 10, the hot dogs happily spin to grilled
perfection on a rolling grill, while the rolls are toasted in a bit
of butter on a sizzling griddle press. What to do if your home kitchen
isn't sporting the latest rolling grill or sandwich press? Any good
griddle pan or nonstick frying pan will work. Use medium to medium high
heat depending on whether you want a gently warmed or crisply browned
Watch your hot dogs carefully and
turn frequently as they tend to brown quickly once they start cooking.
On an outdoor grill, place your hot dogs over medium heat unless you
like them charred beyond recognition (some do!) and turn as soon as
one side starts to brown. Imagine your hot dog has a square shape and
turn four times to brown all four sides. A minute or two on each side
ought to do the trick.
At Hattie's Restaurant in Maine,
hot dogs are scored with a sharp knife in a half-inch diamond pattern
before grilling on a flat top griddle. Kids love the way the 'Designer
Dogs' curl up in a porcupine shape, and those condiments really stick
in the crevices.
It only takes a few minutes to cook
a hot dog no matter what the method. Steaming is best done in a commercial
steam cabinet where the flavors can permeate the pillowy white buns.
If you really want to try steaming at home, use a Dutch oven fitted
with a steamer rack, or a bamboo steamer. Fill the pan with enough liquid
to reach just below the steamer rack. You don't want liquid bubbling
up onto your hot dogs or worse, your rolls. If you're feeling adventurous,
try chicken or beef broth, or even tomato soup for added flavor. (Eat
the soup, too - it will have a distinctive hot dog flavor!) Bring your
liquid to a boil, reduce heat to low, add hot dogs to the steamer basket.
Cover tightly and steam 5-7 minutes or until hot dogs are heated through.
To steam your rolls, stack them on top of the dogs in the last two minutes
As for boiling hot dogs: "If
you must boil your hot dogs, at least do it in beer - it adds more flavor!"
Alex Pink's catering clients choose their favorite beer for large scale
hot dog boils.
Hot dog buns are another area where
personal taste rules. The basic choices are top loading; a New England
favorite, and side loading; preferred in the South and Midwest.
The advantages to a top loader are
that it holds the hot dog securely and fits nicely into those little
three sided paper boxes you get at the ballpark. Top loaders are generally
baked side by side and torn apart as needed, leaving a flat side surface
Side loaders, on the other hand,
tend to be doughier, so if you like a lot of bread with your hot dog,
these are the buns for you. Side loaders are more likely to successfully
sop up all the juices from your chili or sauerkraut without falling