It's simple fare. But plump-and-juicy hot dogs and brats are still the best thing going at a summer picnic, campout or baseball game.
In fact, if you plan a cookout without them, you may have to deal with a mutiny among your younger guests.
You know all the usual accouterments for jazzing up a hot dog meal-in-a-bun: sauerkraut, chili, sauteed peppers and onions, pork and beans, shredded cheese and bacon. If you want to shoot for slightly different, I'd like to pass along to you a few options beyond the standard grilling approach — offerings that will fit nicely into your holiday celebrations, as well as the rest of the summer and fall.
First, here's a short list of some tasty takes on the Noble Dog I discovered on seriouseats.com, where they have given this subject serious thought:
Tiki Dog: Wrap the hot dog in bacon, then brush with teriyaki sauce and grill until the bacon is dark and crisp, turning often. Place in toasted bun then top with diced grilled pineapple, chopped red onion and a light drizzle of more teriyaki sauce.
Frito Dog: Top grilled hot dogs with chili, cheddar cheese, cilantro, chopped green onions, pickled jalapenos, sour cream and Frito corn chips.
French Onion Dog: Top grilled hot dogs with a generous layer of caramelized onions and Gruyere or Swiss cheese. A little indirect heat on the grill will help melt the cheese (if the onions are hot, then the cheese will melt better also).
Monte Cristo Dog: It's based on the famous Monte Cristo Sandwich (French toast topped with ham, turkey and Swiss cheese). First turn the hot dog bun into French toast by dipping it in an egg-and-milk mixture and frying until cooked. Then load the French-toast bun with a grilled hot dog, slice of ham and turkey, and grated Swiss. Return the entire package to the grill so the cheese will melt. A final touch? Drizzle on a bit of maple syrup.
Nacho Dog: A spin-off from the Frito Dog, top the grilled sausage with hot refried beans, shredded cheddar and pickled jalapenos.
Bacon-Jack-Avocado Dog: Split open the uncooked hot dog and stuff with Monterey Jack cheese. Close it by wrapping with a strip of bacon (secure with a toothpick), then cook over indirect heat to heat through the hotdog, then crisp the bacon at the end by cooking over direct heat. Once nestled into a toasted bun, garnish with avocado and a slathering of chipotle mayo (whisk together mayonnaise and a splash of adobo sauce from the can).
Vietnamese Dog: Top the grilled dog with pickled daikon radishes (and other pickled veggies such as carrots and cucumbers), fresh cilantro and mint leaves, and siracha mayonnaise (whisk together mayonnaise and a splash siracha sauce).
Good quality sausages (such as your sausage of choice from Aidells or a spicy kielbasa from a trusted meat counter)
Slice the sausages lengthwise, leaving hinged, so they form a long butterfly. Grill, cut-side down, for a few minutes, until nicely browned. Turn over and continue grilling until browned on second side. Remove from grill and place into lightly grilled buns. Ladle warm barbecue sauce over the top.
— Adapted from “Sacramental Magic in a Small-Town Cafe,” by Br. Peter Reinhart
New York Sausage Sandwich
2 pounds smoked kielbasa, bratwurst, knockwurst or spicy Italian sausages
4 onions, peeled and halved
3 peppers (one each, red, yellow, and green), cored, seeded and halved
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and black pepper
French rolls, split and toasted
Cook the sausages over medium coals or heat from gas burner, turning frequently for even cooking. Cut one to test after 10 minutes. Remove from heat when ready.
Toss the vegetables with oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add to the grill with the sausages, turning as they are browned.
When the onions and peppers are done, cut into dice and serve in hot crusty rolls along with the sausage. Have a jar of good-quality whole-grain mustard available.
Grilled Salsa Dogs
8 hot dogs or sausages
8 hot dog buns or French rolls, split and grilled
About 8 ounces cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, shredded
½ to ¾ cup commercially made salsa
Grill frankfurters several inches from source of heat on gas or charcoal grill turning frequently until evenly golden. Remove and split open. Fill with the cheddar or Monterey jack cheese and return to the grill, grilling just until cheese begins to melt. Place each frank in a grilled bun, split-side up. Spoon a portion of the salsa down the center of each split frank, serve immediately. Yields 8 servings.
Barbecue Dogs To Go
I’ve shared these with you before. They’re great thermos fare, and a simple and tasty treat to take along on picnics or short hikes.
1 cup beer
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup commercial or homemade barbecue sauce
10 hot dogs, quartered
5 French rolls, split
Sandwich garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped yellow or red onion.
In a saucepan, combine beer, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce and hot dogs. Simmer for 20 minutes. Spoon mixture into a wide-mouth vacuum bottle and take to picnic. To serve, spoon a portion of the filling into each of the rolls. Each diner adds cheese and onion to taste. Yields 5 servings.
Frankfurters in Pungent Sauce
(16 ounce) package frankfurters, diced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 carrots, diced
2 green peppers, diced
2 tablespoons cider or wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 French rolls, split and grilled
Brown frankfurters quickly in hot oil. Sprinkle with soy sauce and continue to cook for 1 minute. Add carrots; cover and cook until carrots are slightly tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in peppers, vinegar and brown sugar and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes. Divide mixture between the 4 buns and serve. Yields 4 servings.
Make the zesty apricot-tomato barbecue sauce ahead of time, then slather it on your dogs or sausages as they cook.
1 cup apricot preserves
½ cup (4 ounces) tomato sauce
1/3 cup vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salad oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
8 to 10 hot dogs
8 to 10 buns, toasted
Combine apricot preserves, tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, honey, salad oil, salt and ginger. Sauce may be prepared up to two weeks ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. Score franks on the bias and broil over hot coals or gas burner, turning and basting often with sauce. Serve on the toasted buns. The remaining sauce may be heated and passed around with the franks. Yields 8 to 10 servings.
— Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist, and author of “Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit,” and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at email@example.com, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.