Not-so-lean cuisine: Dogs get dressed up for gourmet makeover
Every dog has its day, and the hot dog's days have finally come. Long dismissed as nothing but chicken lips and floor scrapings, the classic frank is getting a gourmet facelift. A piece in the July 7 issue of Time magazine says hot dogs are getti...
Every dog has its day, and the hot dog's days have finally come.
Long dismissed as nothing but chicken lips and floor scrapings, the classic frank is getting a gourmet facelift.
A piece in the July 7 issue of Time magazine says hot dogs are getting the star chef treatment the way hamburgers did a year ago. The write-up points out some four-star franks like the $19 Kobe-beef barker in New York and a $16 chicken and foie-gras dog in Los Angeles.
A similar spot in a recent issue of Esquire doctored up a $60 dog complete with truffle mustard.
Haute cuisine hot dogs aren't just limited to the coasts and Bert Meyers will tell you the only real dog comes from the heart of the Midwest, his sweet home, Chicago.
"Seinfeld" may have had the Soup Nazi, but Meyers is a good-natured Hot Dog Dictator in his Fargo Bertrosa's restaurants, which he runs with his wife, Lisa.
"Yellow mustard was invented for hot dogs, ketchup was not," Meyers warns. "There's some places in Chicago that won't even serve ketchup."
Meyers says the classic Chicago-style hot dog reflects the Windy City's cultural makeup.
Referred to as "dragged through the garden," the classic Chicago dog starts with a Vienna frank, topped with two tomato wedges on one side to represent the Italians. A pickle on the other side comes from the Germans, all served on a poppy seed bun.
Chicago dogs are also marked by a green pickle relish so bright, Meyers says, "God hasn't even invented that color yet."
But even at Wrigley Field, home of Chicago's beloved Cubbies, imposters try to pawn off imitation Chicago dogs. These grilled onion wieners have Meyers crying foul.
"It's a lie," he says. "I know what Chicago is and I know the right way to do it."
Rob Lynch, owner of the Fargo Dog House on Broadway in downtown Fargo, says dogs are different across the country.
"That's why there's not a solid hot dog chain restaurant, because it's such a regional taste," Lynch says, referring to his menu.
While the classic New Yorker is served on a steamed bun with sauerkraut, sweet red onion sauce with brown sugar, in Boston it's drowned in baked beans. Cincinnatians serve theirs swimming in chili and in the Carolinas and Virginias dogs are buried under mounds of cole slaw.
Lynch's 'garbage dog' serves as his version of the famous Chicago dog.
And in Wisconsin, Lynch's home state?
"I don't know if there is a Wisconsin dog," he says. "Wisconsin is more of a brat state."
Lynch even gave the North Dakota-Minnesota region a hot dog identity of its own with the Lefse Dog.
Good dogs and buns
No matter how you dress them up, both Lynch and Meyers agree it all boils down to a quality hot dog and a bun.
Both restaurateurs acknowledge some store-bought brands of mystery meat deserve a bad wrap, so they use all-beef dogs. Lynch favors Cloverdale meats and Meyers sticks to Viennas.
"No skinless hot dogs," Meyers says. "Skinless hot dogs should be thrown away, they're for children."
Though their brands differ, they say the best method of preparation is boiling to give the dogs a good "snap" when you bite in to them.
Tim Skauge at Prime Cuts Meats says the best flavors are in a dog with a mix of pork and beef. He says boiling is good to heat it up, but grilling brings out the true taste.
"You want the flavor of the meat," Skauge says. "It's like saying you want a good tenderloin, then marinating it for hours. It doesn't make any sense."
No matter how you do it, both Lynch and Meyers will say the hot dog shouldn't be kicked to the curb any more.
"Yes, it's good in the summer and at the game, but a good hot dog is good all year-round," Lynch says.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533