MEAT MATTERS haute dog
Hot dogs on the menu of upscale restaurants is not misplacement, but, rather, a play
to appease folks ordering from the bar menu, as well as an opportunity to satisfy the
midday in-a-hurry crowd and the late-night guest hungry for a little something.
The Meat of the Matter
The packed-in contents are the heart of the dog that chefs love to talk about. Big Easy
Boerie Bites are made with South African farmers sausage—a mixture of pork, lamb and
beef with such spices as coriander, paprika and chilies all combined and presented in a lamb
casing. They are made as they were in old South African butcher shops, with hand-selected
raw material and no trim, Hessler says. As for the interesting blend of spices, “During
World War II, a lot of occupation was going on in Africa, and it left an impression behind.
It became a wonderful melting pot of spices from India, Southeast Asia and beyond.”
The Boerie Bites play not only to the emerging South African flavor trend, they
also address consumers’ desire to know where their food comes from, Hessler says.
Awareness of this trend is especially important with hot dogs that are normally
perceived as unhealthy and probably something we shouldn’t eat. “But if we know the
source material, we splurge,” he adds.
For a place with the word “duck” in its name, it’s no wonder that The Duck Inn,
Chicago, serves a Duck Fat Dog. The champion dog was named one of the 100 Best
Dishes in Chicago by Time Out Chicago in 2015 and one of the 20 Essential Hot Dogs
in Chicago 2017 by Eater Chicago. It was developed by Kevin Hickey, partner/director
of food and beverage for parent company Rockit Ranch Productions, Chicago.
After fine-tuning the combination of beef, pork and duck fat, the operation turned
the production of the hot dog over to a local company. “They hold it for us and we pick
it up as needed. If we made it in-house, it would be the job of two guys to crank out
the dogs all day long, it is that popular,” says executive chef Kris Delee.
One of the most famous dishes served at Santa Monica, California’s, Plan Check
Kitchen + Bar is its Tommy Lasorda Burger topped with a butterflied hot dog and a
mix of classic and elevated hot dog toppings. The dog is a house blend of 50/50 ground
grass-fed certified Angus beef and short rib. “We grind the beef twice a day,” says the
gastro pub’s corporate chef Sean Yontz. Of the company’s four locations, the downtown
unit close to the Los Angeles Dodger Stadium sells the most.
While not all operators are inclined to develop and/or produce their own dogs,
selections from upscale suppliers are only a phone call away. Ormsby’s, an Atlanta-based traditional American gastro pub with elevated sandwiches and entrees, purchases
Kobe beef hot dogs from Snake River Farms, Boise, Idaho, through its local vendor.
Ormsby’s offers the Abe Froman Chicago-style hot dog and the Atlanta dog, as well
as small Corn Dog Pups. This certified Angus beef hot dog is covered in a house batter
of buttermilk, creamed corn, onion, flour, cornmeal, mustard powder and cayenne, says
executive chef Nick Anderson.
It’s hard to capture a dog in meat-only terms, as the whole sandwich, from meat to
toppings to bread, plays together to hit a home run in elevated versions—more so than
with the garden ballpark variety.
OPPOSITE, LEFT TO RIGHT: 1) The Tommy Lasorda Burger at Santa Monica, California-based Plan Check Kitchen
+ Bar is topped with a butterflied hot dog and a mix of classic and elevated hot dog toppings. 2) The coating on the
Corn Dog Pups served at Atlanta’s Ormsby’s is buttermilk, creamed corn, onion, flour, cornmeal, mustard powder
and cayenne. 3) Ormsby’s Atlanta dog features chili, onions and housemade cheese whiz on a poppy seed bun.
On the Menu
If natural, premium ingredients isn’t your
bailiwick, a more-casual hot dog play
is to come up with creative ingredient
combinations to match a crazy name. Hot dog
eateries that do so abound. Here are some of
the versions seen on the menu at Steve’s Hot
Dogs on the Hill, St. Louis:
The Bacon Jamaican
Our smoked dog with 2 slices of crisp
bacon, pepper jack, jerk seasoning, bell
peppers and sweet chipotle sauce.
Back Yard BBQ Dog
Our famous smoked dog smothered in tangy
baked beans and fresh potato salad, bacon
and BBQ sauce.
The Molotov Dog
Our famous smoked dog with habanero
chipotle spread, Sriracha, go inside and get
my pickle relish, chipotle onions, jalapeño,
and a prayer for you.
The Macho Nacho Dog
Topped with chili, nacho cheese, tomato,
Doritos, sour cream and jalapeño.
The Storm Trooper Dog
Our smoked Salsiccia topped with made-from-scratch Rotini Alfredo, bacon, French’s
fried onion and fresh grated Parmesan.
Gorilla Mac & Cheese Dog
Our famous smoked Nathan’s dog, topped
with creamy mac & cheese, bacon and
French’s fried onions