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Classic Chicago Hot Dog Recipe


Chicago hot dog
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4.43 from 73 votes
There's no need to travel to Windy City for a bite of an authentic Chicago hot dog.

Serve with: a local Chicago beer.


Course:
Dinner
,
Lunch
,
Main Course
Cuisine:
American

Makes:

Servings: 1 serving

Takes:

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 bun length jumbo all beef frankfurter with a natural casing
  • 1 poppy seed bun
  • 1 long squirt of yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 small white Spanish onion
  • 1/4 medium Roma tomatoes
  • 2 pickled sport peppers
  • 1 kosher pickle spear or fresh cucumber spear, about 5" (12.7 cm) long
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
Notes:
The frank. In Chicago, all beef hot dogs with natural beef casings are compulsory. No pork, no turkey, no chicken. No crap. Snap and squirt are the hallmarks of a good Chicago Hot Dog, and the snap comes from the casings and the toppings. Skinless hot dogs are best saved for infants and the toothless. Vienna Beef is the preferred brand.
The bun. Rosen's is the preferred brand. Poppy seeds contribute a slightly nutty taste to the bun. These tiny blue-gray seeds come from an opium plant and they contain minuscule amounts of morphine and codeine. Not to fear, you would probably have to eat more than a dozen buns to lose your job.
The mustard. There are many different types of mustard, but the classic Chicago Hot Dog is made with yellow "ballpark" mustard. Most of them are made by grinding the seeds from white mustard plants and mixing the powder with vinegar, water, and spices.
The relish. In Chicago the pickle relish is brilliant kryptonite green. Sweet and tart, pickle relishes are typically made from chopped cucumbers, bell peppers, green tomatoes, onions, distilled vinegar, and sugar. For the kryptonite green stuff, Blue No. 1 food coloring is added. If you can't find it, and outside of Chicago it is pretty scarce, regular old olive drab pickle relish will do just fine.
The peppers. Skinny and about 1-2" (25.4-50.8 mm) long, pickled sport peppers are made by pickling fresh green Capsicum annuum, a cultivar of the Tabasco pepper. They are cured in vinegar and a spiced brine. They are moderately hot but not too hot for wusses like me, and they allow Chicago Hot Dogs to bite you back. Yes, even if you are a feeb, you must have sports for it to be an authentic Chicago Hot Dog. But don't use too hot a pepper. Remember, the Chicago Hot Dog is all about balancing flavors.
The pickle. A kosher pickle spear is common, but the best Chicago Hot Dogs, IMHO, use crunchier new pickles. Try Chipco brand from The Chicago Pickle Company. Kosher pickles are made from a special breed of cucumber fermented in a brine, a bath of salt, garlic, black pepper, dill, and vinegar. They are Kosher when they are made in adherence with Jewish dietary law under the supervision of a rabbi. Kosher pickles are never sweet. If you can get fresh whole pickles from a barrel, spears are about 1/8 of a pickle. One of my favorite hot dog carts, Mary Ann's, uses fresh cucumber spears, skin removed, instead of pickles. It may border on heresy, but I love it.
The onions. White Spanish onions are typically used because they are both sweet and pungent. They must be chopped fresh or else they get acidic, stinky, and lose their sweetness.
The tomatoes. Most hot dog stands use regular round slicing tomatoes cut into two wedge shapes or slices, but I think fresh pear-shaped Roma tomatoes are best because they are meatier and not as runny. I like to dice the tomatoes into 1/4" (6.4 mm) chunks so each mouthful has tomato in it. Restaurants can't do this because diced tomatoes lose their juice when sitting around. And for goodness sake, when you make hot dogs at home, use ripe tomatoes. Alas, while researching this story, even in August, most hot dog stands used pink rocks rather than real tomatoes.
Metric conversion:

These recipes were created in US Customary measurements and the conversion to metric is being done by calculations. They should be accurate, but it is possible there could be an error. If you find one, please let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page

Method

  • Prep. Cut the stem off the end of the tomato and squeeze it over the trash can ejecting the seeds. Chop the tomato into 1/4" (6.4 mm) chunks. Dice the onion.
  • Cook. For the classic dirty water dog, bring enough water to cover the dog to a boil, then cut back to a simmer. Simmer, never boil, the dog for 10 minutes.
  • For a char dog, use a technique I learned from Gold Coast Dogs. Cut an X shape in the ends of the dog. When they cook they will curl up and get extra crispy. Cook the dogs over a medium high grill until the skin darkens and there are nice grill marks all around.
  • Traditional Chicago Hot Dog buns are steamed. Click here for tips on how to prepare your buns.
  • Serve. To serve a Chicago dog, begin by placing the frankfurter on the bun. Squirt the mustard on the dog on one side between the meat and the bun. Spread the relish between the meat and the bun on the opposite side of the mustard. Sprinkle the chopped onions on top of the mustard. Distribute the tomato chunks all around. Place the peppers on top of the tomatoes. Place the spear on top of the onions and mustard. Sprinkle the celery salt on top of the vegetation.
    Absolutely, positively, no ketchup. Fohgeddaboudit. Now serve and enjoy.