Dog Days of Summer
Chris Ying, author of The Wurst of Lucky Peach: A Treasury of Encased Meat, a book solely dedicated to the worldwide fascination of any and all types of sausage, refers to the chili dogs he ate growing up in California as the formative sausage experiences of his life.
Most carnivores can relate to this fundamental gastronomic tenet. All aspects of the wieners you ate as a kid—the cooking method, the texture, the bun-to-meat ratio, the toppings and the popping noise (or not) of the casing upon contact—are seared in your taste memory cells as the best way to fix any subsequent frank you encounter throughout your life.
New Hampshire history is steeped in hot dog preference.
According to John Clayton, Executive Director of the Manchester Historic Association, the name generally synonymous with the hot dog in his city is Schonland. The company, founded by German-born William F. Schonland in 1883, produced the best wurst in Manchester for over 100 years, says Clayton.
At peak production, Schonland put out more than 40,000 pounds of processed meats from its factory on Blain Street, a big bulk of that hitting the streets as smoky frankfurters spiced with ginger from Jamaica, paprika from Spain, cardamom from France and sage from a region of Croatia called Dalmatia.
The company was sold in the early 1980s to food holding company Catelli-Habitant Ltd. and was subsequently purchased by sausage conglomerate Kayem Foods in 1987. Kayem ceased Schonland hot dog production in Manchester in the early 1990s, but still markets the dogs under the same name, using the same recipe, to major grocery stores in the northeast.
Closer to the coast, there is the Schultz to Shield’s hot dog transition to consider. This story starts in 1933 when Ted Bettcher and Carl Schultz first opened Schultz Hot Dogs in Portsmouth. For seventy years these natural casing franks were the dogs to dine on in that city. In 1990, the recipe was lost in a fire but there was enough institutional memory still alive to keep making them as they’d always been when Jordan Meats bought the business in 1992, when Corporate Brand Foods America purchased the Shultz brand in 1997, when Iowa Beef Processors picked it up in 2000, and even when Tyson bought it in 2001, before it discontinued the Shultz line in early 2004.
Right around the time that Shultz hot dogs became unavailable, Ted Bettcher’s son, Ken, worked with Shields Meats of Kennebunk, Maine to re-produce a close match to the original Schultz flavor for the locals who loved them. These dogs still appear on the menu—whether naked or buried in kraut, chili or beans—at Portsmouth’s iconic hotdog-cart-turned-stationary-establishment Gilley’s Lunch on Fleet Street.
Brand loyalties aside, local farmers are also trying to make a mark on the state’s hot dog scene from a sustainability standpoint. Take Miles Smith Farm in Loudon as a prime example. They make nitrite free, grass-fed and finished beef hot dogs from the Scottish Highlander and Angus cross cattle raised on the farm’s 30 acres. And sometimes they add bacon to the mix to make them both trendy and just that more delicious.
“These have more flavor than your average grocery store hot dog,” said Miles Smith Farm employee Teresa Downey, although they are sold in some Hannaford locations throughout the state. “They actually taste like beef.”
Downey contends the only thing you need as an accompaniment for one of the Miles Smith Farm franks is a stick with which to cook it over an open fire.
In his chapters entitled “Play With Your Weiner,” Ying advised purists like Downey to skip that particular section as he presents recipes for weird and wonderful combinations that range from corndogs tinged black with huitlacoche (a powerfully flavored fungus that grows on corn and is featured in Mexican food) to a Thai street food staple hot dog wrapped in a waffle.
We are not advocating going as crazy as Ying does in his hot dog adventures. But we challenge you—after you’ve had one or two of your childhood hot dogs, of course—to give these easy-to-prepare combinations a showing at your next barbeque. What’s the wurst thing that could happen?
The list of things on a Chicagostyle hot dog sings like the recipe for a BigMac. It comprises one all-beef wiener, sweet relish, mustard, peppers, pickles and onions, all on a poppy seed bun. There are also tomatoes and a dash of celery salt, but they don’t fit the jingle.
GREEN CHILI DOG
This pan-fried dog gets topped with a chunky salsa verde made of five large sprigs of cilantro, four tomatillos, three scallions, two teaspoons lime juice and one jalapeno pepper, all chopped and seasoned with salt. These sit best in a traditional bun but you can push the theme by topping the salsaslathered dogs with quick-fried corn tortilla strips.
TRIPLE RED SNAPPERS
The most well-known Red Snapper (unnatural red dye for the color, natural casings for the snap) frankfurter, have been sold by W.A. Bean & Sons in Bangor, Maine, for about 100 years. For this colorful concoction, slip the cooked dog into a sweet potato bun and top it with a red relish of a ½ cup each of shredded red cabbage and chopped red beets, sweetened by honey, soured by red wine vinegar and spiced by red chili pepper flakes to taste.
Slather the inside of a toasted whole wheat hot dog roll with Russian dressing and line it with a piece of Swiss cheese. Nestle a sizzling wiener into the cheese and top the sandwich with warm sauerkraut.
BANH MI DOG
Borrowing heavily from the famous Vietnamese sandwich by the same name, this recipe comprises six pork and beef hot dogs that have been split down the middle lengthwise, marinated overnight in three tablespoons of fish sauce, two tablespoons each maple syrup and soy sauce, a teaspoon each of sesame oil, minced garlic, minced ginger and minced scallion. The dogs are grilled, nestled into rightsized pieces of French baguette with red lettuce leaves, sliced jalapenos, sriracha mayonnaise, quick pickled shredded daikon and carrots and cilantro leaves.
BACON CHEESE DOG
These rainy day franks get wrapped in bacon and baked (grilling the bacon could mean a fire), served in a toasted bun with a generous squirt of beer cheese made by throwing one cup of your favorite cheddar cheese, ¼ cup of your favorite ale, one garlic clove, ½ teaspoon mustard and a splash of hot sauce into a food processor and blending it until smooth.