Let me start off by saying how happy I am to be a new edition to the Burger Beast’s blog. It goes without saying that burgers and dogs go together like peanut butter and jelly. I’m not a connoisseur of pb&j, but I am a connoisseur of hot dogs. I have no idea how many hot dogs I’ve enjoyed thus far in my life, but it’s definitely rivals the amount of burgers the Beast has consumed.
Hot dogs are as special to Americans as apple pie, we consume approximately 20 billion hot dogs per year and in 2010 consumers spent more than $1.6 billion on hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets ( I’m not the only one that loves a good hot dog). See, I was born and raised in a city that takes its hot dogs VERY seriously – Chicago. To Chicagoans there is only one way to make the perfect dog… Chicago Style.
Chicago has earned bragging rights for having more hot dog joints than it does McDonald’s, Burger Kings, and Wendy’s combined. . In fact, the Chicago Style dog is so special it even has its own badge on Foursquare. Please don’t rub it in to Burger Beast that Foursquare still doesn’t have a burger badge of any sort, he gets a little upset.
Now of course there are many different kinds of delicious hot dogs, however when properly constructed, the ingredients of a Chicago-Style hot dog will create euphoria in and around a bun.
This “proper construction” goes like this…
- You start with the most important ingredient, the dog itself. A real Chicago-Style dog is usually made with a Vienna Beef hot dog, the local favorite. The dog is kosher, all-beef with a natural casing that “snaps” when you bite into it. It is cooked by either steaming or simmering (another option is grilling, which is called a “Chardog”).
- What good is any hot dog without its bun? Not a very good one, that’s why a poppy seed bun is used. The most common brand that is used in most places is S. Rosen’s Mary Ann from the Alpha Baking Company because of its ability to handle the steam warming that’s used to heat it up.
- Do you have your garden gloves on? Good… Now it’s time to drag the dog through the garden (a term used to describe the specific and special combination of condiments that go on a Chicago-Style dog).
- The first condiment is plain yellow mustard and is the ONLY one that will be squeezed from a bottle.
- The next condiment is a specific sweet pickle relish that is unique because it is dyed bright neon green (it more closely resembles kryptonite than relish).
- After that comes a handful of diced, raw white onions.
- Next come the tomato wedges… usually two or three, half wedges tucked in next to the dog on the same side.
- One kosher pickle “spear” is then laid between the dog and the bun, usually on the opposite side of the tomato wedges.
- After that, two or three sport peppers are placed on top of the relish and chopped onions. If you are not familiar, sport peppers are green, around 1-1/2 inches long, and are medium hot. Some places may ask you if you want your dog “with”… they are asking you if you want your dog with sport peppers or without.
- Last but not least… a dash of celery salt to lightly dust the top of your dog.
Now I’m sure you have noticed that I don’t mention the “K” word. That’s because ketchup is NEVER used on a Chicago Style dog and many places do not even offer it because of this. In fact, some places will ask you to leave if you ask for ketchup on your Chicago-Style dog.
Stay tuned as I start eating and reviewing my way through various hot dogs in Miami, Chicago, and beyond.