Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bringing New York Hot Dogs to Utah

To try and put a cap on the unannounced "Kid's Month" here last month, I wanted to do a posting on hot dogs. I'd found a recipe from Jeff Smith (the Frugal Gourmet) for New York Hot Dog sauce. He claims it's "the real deal." I've never been to New York so I'd have a hard time arguing with him. Maybe some of you can shed some light on this. He goes on to mention that there are basically three kinds of hot dogs: those from New York, with onion and tomato sauce (and sauerkraut), those from Chicago, with veggies and pepper sauce, and everything everywhere else.

Like most kids, my kids like hot dogs. Me too, if it's a good one. FranklinCovey Field, home of the Salt Lake Bees, has the best in the Utah, I think. There's no better topping for a good hot dog than a side order of baseball.

Anyway, I decided to make some hot dogs (actually, I boiled up some Polish sausages), along with the New York onion sauce, and then blog about it. I got busy with other things and didn't get around to it, though. That's why only one post last week. Sorry.

Sunday is my best day for cooking. After church is over, I've got the rest of the day to goof off. Usually in the kitchen. No "honey-do's" allowed on Sunday! It's my day to worship, read scriptures, mess with my kids, and cook. Perfect!

Then I discovered I didn't have any hot dog buns.

Now I'm in trouble. Sunday is not a day for Mormon's to go shopping. We're encouraged to "keep the Sabbath-day holy." Mostly, that means doing church things - doing good for others, keeping other work to a minimum and only going shopping (making others work) in an emergency.

Somehow I didn't think God cared if I had hot dog buns or not.

So, I decided to make my own. I've never done this before, mind you. I had no idea what I was doing. I just knew that hot dog buns were soft bread, long enough to hold a hot dog.

Because I didn't want to be cooking all day (that whole Sabbath thing again), I check through my bread maker recipes and found a quick dinner roll recipe. I thought, "These are soft. I'll just shape them into long buns. That'll work, right?"

I must have been a little "off" in putting the ingredients in the bread maker. After the bread maker "beeped" at me, I opened it to find not wonderful bread dough but, a large puddle of sticky glop. I've worked with soft bread dough before but, this was ridiculous. It reminded me of an edible version of the slime toy you could get when I was a kid.

I didn't have time to start over (even Sunday's don't last forever) so, I decided to do what I could. After heavily flouring my counter, and pouring the glop out, I started kneading, adding flour to the batter until I came up with a less sticky, but still very soft, dough. Oiling my hands, I shaped them into long rolls and put them on a baking sheet. It occurred to me that hot dog buns come stuck together. I wasn't sure how much these would rise, so I gave them plenty of space.

That turned out to be a mistake. They did rise, and baked up pretty well, too. They were more like little ciabatta breads than hot dog buns, though. Still, they were soft and would work just fine for a Sunday hot dog dinner. I just had cut the hot dogs in half lengthwise so they'd fit between the slices.

During this whole process I also decided to make some French fries. Once again, we didn't have any frozen ones but that's okay. We had plenty of potatoes on hand. I decided to leave the skins on, as an experiment, and I'm glad I did. They were kind of rustic and rather tasty.

The main dish, of course, was the hot dogs and the New York onion sauce. They turned out pretty well, and the sauce . . . well . . . you'll just have to wait until next time to find out about that.

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