With summer just around the corner, its time to dust off (or clean) the grill to get ready for barbecue season.
While many tout the joys of chicken, ribs and burgers on the grill, Im still a sucker for hot dogs. Dont get me wrong, Ill get to the chicken, ribs and burgers later in the grilling season, but for now Im reacquainting myself with the grill by keeping menus simple with hot dogs.
And for me, its all about the toppings.
The classics are, in no particular order, grilled onions, relish, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, sauerkraut, peppers, pickles and even chili. They are all good, but in my kitchen Im always trying to update and reinvent and go worldwide in my quest for new and exotic condiments. Bacon and cheese, hummus or guacamole or pizza sauce topped with mozzarella for an Italian dog have graced my table, as well as dogs topped with tzatziki (Greek cucumber sauce) and chopped olives. Wasabi-infused mayonnaise with sautéed onion and garlic is also a big favorite at our table. It is, however, followed by a breath mint (or five) but so worth it.
Think outside the box with these fun and creative hot dog toppings and take your hot dogs on a road trip from the everyday to the spectacular.
Classic Tzatziki Sauce
8 ounces Greek yogurt
1 large cucumber, diced (you dont have to peel it if you dont want to)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh dill to taste, chopped
In a bowl combine all the ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Makes 2 cups.
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup minced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup ketchup
A few drops of hot sauce
In a skillet, sauté the bell pepper and garlic in the butter. When they are soft, remove from the heat and let cool for 4 to 5 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ketchup and garlic and season to taste with the hot sauce. Mix in peppers. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Sweet Onion Sauce
3 sweet onions, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup bottled pizza or marinara sauce
1/2 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
In a skillet, combine the onion, garlic and sugar. Add the olive oil and sauté. When onions are softened and limp but not mushy, add the pizza sauce, oregano and paprika. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 cups.
Fairground Corn Dogs
On a different dog note: While these are not on the grill kind of hot dogs, reader Marilyn Docker asked me to find the best get it at a fair corn dog recipe she could make at home. This is what I came up with. Be warned, it is deep fried, but its deeply delicious.
1 quart oil for deep frying
1 cup flour
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
1 egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 pounds hot dogs
Heat oil in a deep fryer to 365 degrees. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in melted bacon drippings. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, buttermilk and baking soda. Mix until everything is smooth and well blended.
Pat the hot dogs dry with paper towels so that the batter will stick. Insert wooden sticks into the ends. Dip the hot dogs in the batter one at a time, shaking off the excess. Deep fry a few at a time in the hot oil until they are as brown as you like them. Drain on paper towels.
– Modified from SouthernCooking.com