It’s time to elevate this summertime staple with these easy tips

It’s the time of year when backyard barbecues, camping and summertime eating fill our evenings, weekends and – if you’re extra lucky – some weekdays too! Hot dogs are staples at these get-togethers, but there’s no reason why you should stick to the bare bones basics.

From different types of dogs to a multitude of cooking methods andendless toppings, it’s time to elevate the humble hot dog.

1. Simmer in beer

For 8 hot dogs

Score all-beef hot dogs with a knife or pierce with a fork. Over medium heat in a large pan add:

330 mL bottle of your favourite beer
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs (30 mL) ketchup
2 Tbs chopped onion

After adding the hot dogs, simmer until they are plump. Finish by grilling hot dogs and topping with remaining sauce. Play with different toppings like sauerkraut.

2. Try a new kind of dog

If you’re tired of eating the same old hot dog over and over again, why not try a new style? You’ll get instant flavour updates from an Italian sausage or bratwurst. Or ask your local butcher what dogs he has in stock. You can also change up the kind of meat in your dog. Try chicken or pork hot dogs.

Fun Facts: Hot dogs, wieners and frankfurters are essentially the same thing. All hot dogs are sausages but not all sausages are hot dogs.

3. Bun-crazy

Get creative and use a different type of bread to hold your hot dog and toppings together.

Try:

A croissant, toasted with a marinated hot dog and sauerkraut
A tortilla or taco shell, add salsa as a topping!
Pretzel bun, add a drizzle of spicy mustard

4. Bacon-wrapped

You had to know this was coming. Wrap one piece of bacon around each hot dog. Fry in a pan making sure to rotate hot dogs to cook evenly. Go one step further and create a BLT hot dog by adding lettuce, tomato and mayo as toppings.

5. Boil, roast or fry.

While for many of us a hot dog tastes best cooked over an open fire, there’s many other ways to cook them.

Try:

In a pot: Boil your hot dogs in water or beer for about 5 minutes. Or, steam for 7 minutes.
In the oven: Make a slit lengthwise in each hot dog and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast at 400º F for 15 minutes.
In a pan: Slice each hot dog in half and sear in a hot pan with a tablespoon of butter.

6. Vietnamese Hot Dog

Turn your Vietnamese sub in to a Vietnamese hot dog! Instead of a bun, use half a baguette with a dollop of mayo and top with shredded carrot, thinly sliced cucumber and cilantro.

7. Pizza Dog

Add your hot dog to an Italian bun slathered in tomato sauce. Melt mozzarella on top and add your favourite pizza toppings like mushrooms, green peppers or basil.

8. Add homemade toppings.

Stop buying the 3-pack of relish, ketchup and mustard at the grocery, and make your own for barbecue night.

Easy Tomato Relish:

1 Tbs (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, pureed
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs (30 mL) red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a pan and add onion, chilli and garlic. Once the onions are soft, add the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and red wine vinegar, and continue cooking until mixture is thickened. Cool overnight in fridge before serving.

Simple Homemade Mustard:

6 Tbs mustard seeds (dark seeds are hotter)
½ cup dry mustard
2 tsp salt
3 Tbs (45 mL) apple cider vinegar
¼ cup (60 mL) white wine
¼ cup (60 mL) water
2 Tbs honey
¼ tsp paprika
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp garlic powder

Grind mustard seeds in a spice or coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. In a bowl, add the ground seeds, salt and mustard powder. Add liquid ingredients and stir until thick. Season with spices. Let mustard rest overnight in fridge.

Homemade Ketchup:

1 can tomato paste
½ cup (120 mL) white vinegar
2 Tbs honey
¼ cup (60 mL) water
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder

Heat all ingredients in a pan over medium heat. Blend until smooth. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir frequently. Simmer until thick. Remove from heat and let ketchup cool. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container.

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