National Hot Dog Day
Hot diggity – Monday, July 20th, is National Hot Dog Day! It should never be said (and to my knowledge it hasn’t been…yet anyway), that I am a food snob. Sure, I have been known to request foie gras, lobster, and champagne for my birthday dinner, but there are also times when an ice cold beer and a good old fashioned steamed ‘dog with lots of onions, relish, and mustard on a New England style roll (top slit, not side slit) is the perfect meal. And the top slit roll is definitely a New England tradition. Just ask my husband who spent way too much time in search of a “real” hot dog roll, roaming the aisles of Winn Dixie, Murray’s Market, Publix, Albertson’s, and Waterfront Market down in the Keys this past winter. The poor guy came up empty handed each and every time, and this purist man of mine refuses to eat one of those “foreign” rolls. My Mom came to the rescue and mailed him a box full. Talk about a happy guy.
Hot dogs, wieners, frankfurters – whatever you call them, have gotten a rather bad reputation over the years with all sorts of stories circulating about what they contain. Just what does go into a tube steak? Traditional hot dogs are made from beef, pork, veal, chicken, or turkey and are available with or without skins. They can contain up to 30% fat and 10% added liquid (water or stock). The labeling, regulated by law, tells the rest of the story:
~Beef or all beef: Contains only beef with no fillers (soybean protein or dry milk solids)
~Kosher: All beef, usually well seasoned with garlic
~Meat: A mixture of pork and beef, usually about 40% pork and 60% beef and no fillers
~If it is labeled “frankfurter” it can contain up to 3.5% fillers and is made from a combination of different meats.
For years and years, Flo’s Hot Dogs of Cape Neddick has been a favorite stopping point for my dear friend Lorraine and me. The relish they serve on a steamed hot dog is out of this world and certainly not your average run of the mill green relish. This delicious sweet-hot-oniony concoction is chocolate brown in color and the recipe has been a closely guarded secret forever. Lorraine came up with her version of Flo’s famous sauce and it comes pretty darn close to the real thing. Place steamed dog in roll, ladle sauce over the top, squirt with a ribbon of mayonnaise, and add a sprinkling of celery salt. Talk about delish!
Not Flo’s But Lo’s Hot Dog Sauce
10 pounds yellow onions, peeled and finely chopped in food processor
1 quart molasses
1 cup cider vinegar
1 pound brown sugar
2 Tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine onions, molasses, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, and Tabasco. Mix well and cook over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every so often. Transfer hot mixture to pint canning jars and process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Yields 10 pints.
Paula Anderson is a contributing writer to Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine, as well as a columnist for 3 Maine Newspapers with a focus on food, nutrition, and entertaining.