Monday, September 19, 2011

Classic Chicago Hot Dogs

This is my farewell to summer. I've been holding on to this great photo of our homemade Chicago dogs for months. I meant to post it around the 4th of July, but was off galavanting around the east coast for a wedding. Then I meant to post it for Labor Day, but got all busy throwing a big cookout. So, now that temps are dipping and there's an unmistakable cool, crisp quality to the air, I'm finally posting it. 

I'm certainly not writing out a traditional recipe, but the pic is too great not to post. I will however give you the classic formula for Chicago-style hot dogs that won't put you in hot water with any regional food scholars or proud Chicagoans.

It's easy. You just need to buy the correct ingredients. The only challenge is fitting all of them onto those standard-size poppy seed buns. If you want to make true Chicago dogs, these are the requirements. Not a lot of wiggle room here...

1) Poppy seed buns; common brand: Mary Ann

2) All-beef hot dog; may be kosher; common brand: Vienna Beef

3) Pickle spear; this one is basic and easy

4) BRIGHT green sweet relish; see it right above the pickle? common brand: Rolf's, Vienna, Puckered Pickle Co. 

5) Fresh chopped or minced white onion

6) Yellow mustard; easy, like French's

7) Sport peppers; little pickled green peppers, about 1 1/2 inches long and medium-hot to hot; can be hard to find outside Chicago; common brand: Vienna 

8) Fresh tomato wedges

9) Celery seeds

And absolutely NO KETCHUP. I personal cannot eat a hot dog without ketchup. My favorite style is a charcoal-grilled hot dog (blackened a bit) with Heinz ketchup and nothing else. My husband is the one who put together the specimens you see above. I ate some of the toppings, but had to use ketchup too. 

On a different note, this is my first post in a month! The simple reason is that I haven't been cooking a lot of new and/or interesting things (unless I'm cooking for a work project). It's summer, right?! So it's been lots of grilling. Fantastic marinated grilled chicken. Vacation. But I think now it's back to regular programming.

Have you ever had a real Chicago dog? Are you resisting Summer's end, or are you already in full-on Fall mode?