After last month’s extremely fun sausage making get-together with Peter and Julia, I was really hoping we’d be able to do this month’s challenge together, too. Alas, a meat blending get-together was not to be this month…which is how I found myself making hot dogs alone.
I can not help but think that if you had told me when I started Healthy Green Kitchen that someday I’d be making hot dogs for this blog, I would have laughed in your face. For two reasons: 1. hot dogs aren’t exactly healthy food. And 2. I don’t like hot dogs.
I honestly haven’t had a hot dog since I was a kid. Ok maybe I’ve had one, but the whole blended meat thing has always skeeved me out, and as you know, I am very wary of the pink salt that’s involved. I considered skipping this challenge entirely (I thought the only alternative to hot dogs was to make mortadella, which, sorry Cathy and Kim, was even less appealing…turns out I could have made bratwurst, which I actually do like…oops), but giving up isn’t my style.
A book I recently received in the mail came to my rescue. It’s called Can It, Bottle It, Smoke It, and it was sent to me by the wonderful folks at Ten Speed Press. I really adore the book: it’s a love letter to all things DIY, and there is a recipe for homemade hot dogs in it. The recipe calls for beef (I used organic ground chuck) and says that the pink salt is optional. Plus the author Karen Solomon recommends stuffing the dogs with a pastry bag. This I had to try. And I mean I really did have to try it this way- not just for the sheer hilarity of attempting such a thing, but because I don’t own a real stuffer.
Anyway, I followed the recipe in the book exactly- meat, spices, ice and all- and low and behold…hot dogs! I won’t lie and say stuffing them with the pastry bag was easy- dealing with the casings was quite challenging and I ended up making the hot dogs one at a time, and tying each one off on both ends, plus I ended up with hot dogs of various lengths. And girths.
Feel free to giggle now.
But after I made some minor adjustments (a little pushing and a little squeezing here and there to even things out) I was honestly kind of shocked at how nicely they came out.
After they were stuffed, I let the hot dogs set up in the refrigerator overnight, then, again as per the recipe’s instructions, I cooked them for 15 minutes in just boiled water. After that, I threw a couple on the grill, eager to see if I’d like how they taste.
But wait! I forgot to tell you that I made my own buns to go with my homemade hot dogs. I used the Buttermilk Bread recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but shaped the dough into bun shapes. They came out a little puffier than I expected, but I am not complaining.
While I was grilling up the hot dogs (I make two- one for me to eat, and one to share with my real live doggies)…
…I threw some onions on the grill, as well.
I figured I’d “decorate” my hot dogs simply, with the onions and some mustard (I wanted to make my own but didn’t end up having time to do so…), plus a side of the homemade bread and butter zucchini pickles I made last week.
All in all, I liked these hot dogs. But even though I haven’t eaten a lot of hot dogs in my day, I couldn’t help thinking that maybe the pink salt adds an important flavor component when it comes to hot dogs, though…that cured taste…you know? Also, I think these would benefit from being smoked. I went back and read Cathy’s instructions and sure enough we were supposed to smoke them for this challenge. Oops again.
I must say I learned a lot from this challenge, though. Who know you could make pretty good (and pretty healthy) hot dogs at home? With a pastry bag? Not sure this is a skill I really need in my cooking repertoire, but hey. You never know…