In a single year, Americans will consume more than 9 billion hot dogs, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Yet many of us will do so without ever giving much thought to the dog itself, focusing more on the toppings: Slaw, chili, onions, mustard, sauerkraut ...
But let's start at the beginning. Have you ever considered marinating hot dogs before you even begin to think about the toppings? It's not as crazy as it sounds.
Susan Wybenga Paden should know. As owner of Good Dog on Frazier Avenue, she knows everything there is to know about hot dogs, but she never tried marinating them until she recently gave it a try at home.
"We used ketchup, soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sesame chili oil and Worcestershire," she says, adding that she cross-hatched the dogs with a knife and marinated them overnight. "They were good. And I liked the way they 'charred' on the grill."
Keep in mind, this was an at-home experiment for her. The dogs are not marinated at Good Dog.
Unlike most marinades that help to tenderize meat, hot dog marinades do nothing but add flavor since the dogs are already very tender. Inspired by Paden, I recently experimented with several different marinade recipes and found three that are similar in that the ingredients list contains no more than four items. It's always great to keep things simple, particularly when we're talking about hot dogs, perhaps the most simplistic of all foods. But each recipe added a little different flavor. All it takes is cross-hatching the dogs with shallow cuts down all sides, then marinating for several hours.
So get your ingredients together and put on the dog. It'll take them to a seriously new level.
• Soy-sesame marinade: 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 splash sesame oil, 1 splash Worcestershire sauce. Enough for 12 hot dogs. -- goodfoodstories.com.
• Garlic marinade: 2 tablespoons ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 large garlic clove, minced. Enough for four hot dogs. -- Food and Wine.
• Beer marinade: 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup dark beer, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 4 cloves garlic, smashed, 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon thyme. Enough for 12 hot dogs. -- TV Food Network.
• Creole marinade: 1/4 cup Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's, 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce. Enough for 12 hot dogs. -- Sandra Lee.
Congratulations to Ole Smoky Moonshine, made right up the road in Gatlinburg ... and legally, I might add. The company was recently awarded four medals during the 2014 Craft Spirits Awards International Competition held in Los Angeles.
The independently owned distillery received the following distinctions: Ole Smoky Original Moonshine and Ole Smoky Apple Pie Moonshine won gold, while Ole Smoky Blackberry Moonshine won silver, and Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherries earned a bronze medal. If you've never had any of those cherries, man, do they ever have a kick to them.
You can pick up a jar at most local liquor stores in town to see if you agree with the judges. I've heard the peach 'shine is quite delicious, too, and am a bit surprised it garnered no awards. Maybe next year.
Contact Anne Braly at firstname.lastname@example.org.