There is a lot of history behind the simple hot dog. The invention most likely can be traced to Germany in the 1600s, where a popular small sausage called a dachshund, or “little-dog” in English was all the rage. This sausage was placed in a bun and consumed on the go. Fast forward to America in the late 1800s, and you’ll find hot dogs being sold by the thousands at baseball games across the country. To celebrate this American staple, we had a chat with Chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro in Albany, Oregon, about the best way to cook and prepare a hot dog for your 4th of July celebrations.
According to Chef Bennett, the casing is the most important part of the hot dog.
“The natural casing is the defining characteristic of a good hot dog,” he said when asked how to make the perfect hot dog. “That’s what gives you the snap when you bite it.”
Finding that natural casing from hot dogs at the grocery store can be tough.
“If you know a butcher who processes deer or other game, they probably also make hot dogs. Sometimes they call them frankfurters or wieners. Depends on the butcher.”
Once you have the right kind of hot dog, Chef Bennett says the bun and condiments matter. Traditionally, a hot dog should be served on a plain white bread bun with mustard and sauerkraut. While the chef did admit that everyone has their topping preferences, he was quite clear on the proper way to cook the perfect dog.
“For the juiciest dog, please your hot dogs in a pan and cover them with cold water,” he said, adding that the dogs should be submerged by at least 1-inch of cold water. “Turn on the heat and bring it to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat, cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes.”
Because the perfect dogs require the perfect bun, we asked the chef how to best prepare plain white buns.
“Toasting them is fine. Be sure to butter and toast the inside, at least a little.” Bennett added that the buns should be the same size or smaller than the dogs you are preparing.
The Grill Method Explained
Chef Bennett said that if you’re going to grill your hot dogs, be sure they blister all around.
“Once they blister or get nice lines, move them over to the cooler side of your grill to finish cooking.”
Then, place those finished dogs in tinfoil. This will keep them from drying out and becoming tough pieces of meat that nobody wants.
Bacon Fat Method
If the only hot dogs you can find are from the grocery store, Chef Matt said one of the best ways to prepare them is with bacon fat.
“While you fry your hot dogs in a pan, you continually baste them with bacon fat.”
As Bennett explained it, the bacon grease will help the dogs form a crust, which will greatly improve the taste of the hot dogs. Then, simply place the dog in a bun, add your favorite toppings, and dig in for a taste explosion.
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