Food & Drink

How to make the great American hot dog greater

Jalapenos make this olive salad dog spicy.
Jalapenos make this olive salad dog spicy. Special to the Sun Herald

The hot dog, most people agree, came to us from Germany. If you visit a German butcher shop, you might well be confronted by dozens of sausage choices (Wikipedia lists more than 40).

Bratwurst, currywurst, knackwurst, Leberkäse and weisswurst are just a few of the ones you might recognize, but there are dozens more you would not.

When you walk up to the meat counter in a local grocery store, you won’t find near the diversity in sausages that you will find in Germany, but you will find a pretty good selection of hot dogs.

Are you sticking up your nose into the air at the mere mention of the great American sausage? Sure, there are hot dogs with ingredient lists you will not want to read, but there are others that are much better. If you buy good-quality hot dogs, treat them with the respect they deserve and load them with all the wonderful things that can make a hot dog sensational, then you will have something pretty amazing to eat.

Are you still doubtful? OK, what if I tell you about a nicely grilled hot dog, anointed with pimento and cheese, then put back on the grill until the pimento and cheese is melted and bubbly hot? What if you were to add smoky bacon to that pimento and cheese dog? What about a hot dog loaded with the same mixture that makes oysters Rockefeller so delicious: spinach, butter, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese? I think you see my point.

One final note of your choice of bread for your hot dog feast. There is nothing wrong with traditional hot dog buns, but my preference is King’s Hawaiian hot dog buns. I like the flavor and texture better. If you want to go for a more European-style approach to a sausage in a bun, use crusty French bread or a po-boy loaf.

There is nothing wrong with a regular hot dog, in a plain bun, anointed with ketchup and mustard, but if you crave something just a bit more exotic, try one of these recipes.

Pimento and Cheese Hot Dog

1-2 best quality hot dogs per person, such as King’s Hawaiian hot dog buns

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

2/3 block cream cheese

½ cup mayonnaise

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Combine the cheese, cream cheese, and mayonnaise, season and mix well. Grill the hot dogs until they have a good, well-marked char, add a hot dog to each bun, load with pimento and cheese and put back on the grill for the bread to toast and the pimento and cheese to melt. Serve at once.

Chili and pimento and cheese hot dog: A variation of the above recipe is to add Wolf brand chili with beans, or if you have a homemade recipe of chili us it instead, on top of the hot dog, then add the pimento and cheese, and finally grill to melt.

Pimento and cheese with bacon hot dog: A final variation on the pimento and cheese dog is to add crispy smoked bacon then load with the pimento and cheese, then grill.

Olive Salad Hot Dog

I am a big fan of olive salad, what most people use for the famous New Orleans muffaletta sandwich. It is a versatile beginning to a lot of recipes, but to use it as a topping to a well-charred hot dog is nothing short of delightful and delicious. Add sliced jalapenos for spice.

BBQ and Slaw Hot Dog

This is a pretty unusual hot dog idea, but I am told by friends that it is delicious. Choose the bread of your liking, grill the dogs until they have a good char, then load the bun with hot dog, coleslaw and your favorite barbecue sauce. Make sure to have paper towels on hand.