MEAT MATTERS haute dog
If consumers are going to indulge, they want
the product to be premium quality, according
to Chicago-based research firm Mintel’s
Timely Topic: Hot Dog Insights 2015 report.
Consumers generally view hot dogs and
sausages as fatty and indulgent.
Therefore, when planning a premium hot
dog menu option, consider working in these
sensibilities and descriptors:
• Grass-fed beef
• Specific breed (i.e. Angus, Kobe)
• No nitrates/nitrites
• Minimally processed
• No additives
• No preservatives
• Sustainably raised
The mini South African Big Easy Boerie Bites served three to
a plate at Big Easy Winebar & Grill each has a separate topping.
The cowboy candy-topped one features candied jalapeños
combined with a simple syrup, coriander and other spices. The
sweet takes the edge off the heat, says Hessler. The sweet-and-spicy tomato jam served on a second bite combines tomatoes, raw
sugar, simple syrup and a spice blend that includes cinnamon.
Customers can’t guess the spices in the jam, which piques their
interest, he adds. Onion jam is the third topping—slow-cooked
red onions caramelized with a bit of cider vinegar to mellow the
sharp onion flavor. Each is served on a mini brioche bun sourced
from Zak the Baker, Miami. Each bun costs the restaurant about
35 cents, but Hessler trusts the whole ingredients in the bun and
doesn’t mind the hefty price.
Region was not the inspiration behind The Duck Inn’s famous Duck Fat Dog. The
restaurant wraps the unctuous dog in bacon and tops it with cheese sauce, pickled
jalapeño, Calabrian chili relish and a crunchy housemade pickle that cures for three
weeks. Everything about this dog is made from scratch, except the brioche poppy seed
roll that the restaurant has specially made at a local bakery, Delee says.
The Tommy Lasorda Burger at Plan Check Kitchen starts with the house PCB—
Plan Check Burger. The butterflied and grilled hot dog on top of the burger is then
topped with a mixture of classic and elevated hot dog toppings, including raw onions,
tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, melted Americanized dashi cheese and bacon spread on
a proprietary Portuguese-style panko-crusted bun. The panko is sprinkled atop the
dough, then baked—almost like a sesame seed bun only with panko crumbs.
Why dashi/American cheese? “We have Asian and Japanese influences in our
food,” Yontz says. The cheese is made in-house and includes dashi seasoning. The
mustard also has an Asian twist—kimchee mustard that combines Dijon mustard and
kimchee. The housemade bacon spread is simply smoked bacon, chopped, cooked and
mixed with a housemade Thousand Island/mayo-like sauce.
Boston’s contemporary American Oak + Rowan restaurant decided that rather than
offer a signature burger for lunch, a housemade prime beef sausage on a sesame brioche roll
topped with confit garlic/horseradish aioli and bread and butter pickles would be unique.
The housemade sausage uses the trimmings from the restaurant’s popular USDA
prime beef combined with spiced ginger, nutmeg, white pepper, salt and dehydrated
milk powder to bind the sausage, says executive chef Justin Shoults. Rather than pipe
the mixture into casings, he rolls it into tube form and wraps in plastic wrap, then
poaches it to keep the shape. “By doing this, you miss out on the crunch factor, but you
have a big juicy piece of sausage,” he says. The horseradish/mustard aioli combines
Dijon and whole-grain mustard and includes roasted garlic.
The sausage has a robust flavor, as it is roasted to achieve some caramelization on
the outside while remaining juicy and tender inside. “Ginger notes and spice from the
white pepper come out, but the quality of the beef shines through,” Shoults says. It is
served on the housemade brioche sesame bun and with brassica salad.
Overall, restaurants are trying to distinguish their dogs by using local and naturally
cured meat—raised without antibiotics, says Mittenthal with the National Hot Dog &
Sausage Council. “It’s the same type of trends we see with other meat, as well.”
JODY SHEE, AN OLATHE, KANSAS-BASED FREELANCE WRITER AND EDITOR, PREVIOUSLY WAS EDITOR OF A FOODSERVICE
MAGAZINE. SHE HAS MORE THAN 20 YEARS OF FOOD-WRITING EXPERIENCE AND WRITES THE BLOG W W W.SHEEFOOD.COM.
ABOVE: The acclaimed Duck Fat Dog at Chicago’s The
Duck Inn is made of beef, pork and duck fat.