Putting on the Dog

So much for scaling back on extravagances when the economy takes a downturn - people seem to be dressing up their dogs more than ever. And I'm not referring to the pooch known as man's best friend - I'm talking hotdogs. You might have seen it rec...


So much for scaling back on extravagances when the economy takes a downturn

- people seem to be dressing up their dogs more than ever. And I'm not

referring to the pooch known as man's best friend - I'm talking hotdogs.

You might have seen it recently in the sports news media: Behold The $80 Hotdog (, July 14, 2011), in which author Adam Watson describes the behemoth gourmet hotdog concoction created by minor league baseball team The Brockton Rox to celebrate National Hotdog Day on July 23. The world-recordbreaking weiner consists of a half-pound, foot-long, deep-fried, all-beef dog rolled in truffle oil, porcini dust, white truffle shavings and then topped with crème fraîche and caviar.

Also in July, Richard Blais, winner of Bravo's Top Chef All Stars, appeared on ABC's Good Morning America to promote the opening of his new restaurant in Atlanta called Haute Dawg and to prepare his take on a gourmet dog for the show's hosts.


Blais piled his grilled hotdog with pickled onions, brisket chili and pepper jack cheese. Chicago, reported to have more hotdog stands than fast-food restaurants, has its own special style of hotdogs, the Chicago Dog. In its most extravagant manifestation, it's said to be "dragged through the garden," indicating the water-simmered frank has been topped with yellow mustard, pickle relish, tomatoes, a dilled pickle spear,

onions, pickled peppers, and sometimes cucumbers - but never ketchup.

At Hank's Haute Dogs in Honolulu, owner Henry Adaniya starts his menu with

Chicago-style dogs and then lets his imagination go on a round-the-world ingredient hunt. His Hawaiian dog is topped with pineapple relish, passion fruit mustard and grilled Maui onions. A lobster-filled dog is dressed with garlic aioli and pickled takuan relish. On Sundays, a Kobe beef hotdog is offered with hoisin-ginger mustard, sesame napa cabbage and pickled daikon-carrot.

Is your mouth watering yet?

While these fancy-pants assemblages sound crazy and possibly difficult to eat, they do offer a grownup spin on a childhood favorite.

One of my favorite ways of embellishing a hotdog is to slather chili on it as it is pulled off the grill. This can be as simple as opening a can of prepared chili and plunking it into a campfire to heat it, or whipping up a quick batch in the kitchen while the charcoal is heating up. I like chili with some spicy heat to jazz up the bland taste of most hotdogs, and my Bison Chili serves as the complete condiment package for my dogs - no ketchup or mustard needed, though adding chopped sweet onions, a sprinkling of shredded cheese or a bit of pickle relish never hurts the overall flavor.

Try your hand at making dressed-up dogs at your Labor Day cookout, autumnal


picnic or tailgating party. Hotdogs cook up quickly, please palates of all ages, and are an inexpensive way to feed your guests.

Bison Chili Dogs

Most recipes for chili used to top hotdogs contain no beans. In this recipe, however, I have included mashed black beans because they help bind the chili, keeping the texture from becoming soupy while also adding a

healthy boost of dietary fiber and protein. Chipotle chile powder has a rich, smoky taste and adds spicy heat to bland hotdogs. The chili is also delicious served by itself.

Yield: 7 cups of chili, enough for about two

dozen hotdogs

For the Chili:


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds ground bison or lean ground beef

2 cups minced onion

4 tablespoons minced garlic

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 to 3 tablespoons ground chipotle

chile powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

For the Dogs:

24 hotdogs

24 buns, toasted

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When hot, add the

ground bison. While cooking, use a wooden spoon to break up the bison so

the chili will have a fine texture and not be too lumpy. Add the onions and sauté about 5 minutes, or until the bison is cooked. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chipotle chile powder, black pepper and salt.

Cook for a minute or two to blend the seasonings and then add the crushed

tomatoes. Place black beans in a bowl and mash them with a potato masher,

then add them to the chili. Turn heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Grill the hotdogs or sauté in a frying pan until cooked, about 5 minutes. Place a hotdog into each toasted bun, top with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of chili and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese.

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