One of America’s Favorites – Chicago-Style Hot Dog

August 22, 2016 at 5:15 AM | Posted in One of America's Favorites | 3 Comments
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Chicago-style hot dog

Chicago-style hot dog

A Chicago-style hot dog, Chicago Dog, or Chicago Red Hot is an all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun, originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois. The hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be “dragged through the garden” due to the many toppings. The method for cooking the hot dog itself varies depending on the vendor’s preference. Most often they are steamed, water-simmered, or less often grilled over charcoal (in which case they are referred to as “char-dogs”).

The canonical recipe does not include ketchup, and there is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is unacceptable. A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.

 
Many sources attribute the distinctive collection of toppings on a Chicago-style wiener to historic Maxwell Street and the “Depression Sandwich” reportedly originated by Fluky’s in 1929 The founders of Vienna Beef frankfurters—the most common brand served today, first sold at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago—and the proprietors of Fluky’s were both Jewish, which may account for the wieners’ pork-free, kosher-style character.

 
The “dragged through the garden” style is heavily promoted by Vienna Beef and Red Hot Chicago, the two most prominent Chicago hot dog manufacturers, but exceptions are common, with vendors adding cucumber slices or lettuce, omitting poppyseeds or celery salt, or using plain relish or a skinless hot dog. Several popular hot dog stands serve a simpler version: a steamed natural-casing dog with only mustard, onions, plain relish and sport peppers, wrapped up with hand-cut french fries, while the historic Superdawg drive-ins notably substitute a pickled tomato for fresh. Many vendors, including Portillo’s, offer a Chicago-style dog with cheese sauce, known as a cheese-dog.

 

 

A char-dog with ends cut cervelat-style

A char-dog with ends cut cervelat-style

Chicago-style hot dogs are cooked in hot water or steamed before adding the toppings. A less common style is cooked on a charcoal grill and referred to as a “char-dog”. Char-dogs are easily identifiable because very often the ends of the dog are sliced in crisscross fashion before cooking, producing a distinctive cervelat-style “curled-x” shape as the dog cooks. Some hot dog stands, such as the Wieners Circle, only serve char-dogs.

The typical beef hot dog weighs 1/8 of a pound or 2 ounces (57 g) and the most traditional type features a natural casing, providing a distinctive “snap” when bitten.

The buns are a high-gluten variety made to hold up to steam warming, typically the S. Rosen’s Mary Ann brand from Alpha Baking Company.

 

 

Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo's

Chicago-style hot dog at Portillo’s

The Chicago area has more hot dog restaurants than McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King restaurants combined. A “hot dog stand” in Chicago may serve many other items, including the Maxwell Street Polish, gyros, pork chop and Italian beef sandwiches, corn dogs, tamales, pizza puffs and Italian ice. The restaurants often have unique names, such as The Wieners Circle, Gene & Jude’s, Gold Coast Dogs or Mustard’s Last Stand; or architectural features, like Superdawg’s two giant rooftop hot dogs (Maurie and Flaurie, named for the husband-and-wife team who own the drive-in). One of the most popular vendors of the Chicago-style dog are Chicago’s professional sports teams; in fact, those sold at Wrigley Field are affectionately known as “Wrigley Dogs”.

Portillo’s is the top vendor of this variation of hot dog regionally. After Portillo’s, Boz Hot Dogs (aka Bozo’s) and Scooby’s Red Hots have the most locations and thus also are top vendors of Chicago Style Red Hots.

 

3 Comments »

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  1. We adore Chicago style!!!

  2. […] One of America’s Favorites – Chicago-Style Hot Dog – Many vendors, including Portillo’s, offer a Chicago-style dog with cheese sauce, known as a cheese-dog … and the most traditional type features a natural casing, providing a distinctive … […]


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