A hot dog is not something your typical gourmet indulges in on a regular basis, if ever. Luckily for me, I'm no gourmet. Still, other than the occasional turkey or soy dog (I like Morning Star Farms dogs and corn dogs the best), I didn't purchase hot dogs as a general rule. What other meat is so famous for being so grossly mysterious? For one thing, they are not a healthy food (duh). Most have lots of fat, or lots of preservatives, carcinogens, and other chemical ick (yes, even some of the veggie ones.) Also, I've seen the process of making a typical hot dog on Discovery, or say, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. When you watch a hot dog go from raw product, to yellowy extrusion, to the addition of smoky flavors and nitrites, the temptation to eat one is lessened considerably. Now add these other factors to an unfortunate incident I experienced as a teenager, in which I pulled a largish piece of coiled plastic sheeting out from within a cheap frankfurter. You'll see that my odds of ordering the grilled chicken sandwich instead of the mystery dog at Wrigley become very high indeed.
But while at the ol' Trader Joe's, I had a summertime craving for a really good hot dog. And I saw the Hebrew Nationals, a 100% kosher beef frank (I don't eat pork, either, my Jewish brothers) that contains nothing artificial. I remembered how much I liked them when they gave them away once a year at the office building in Skokie I used to work in. I got the Reduced Fat, and so far I like those the best. The 97% Fat Free variety, sadly, didn't have nearly as good a flavor.
Of course, even while eating hot dogs, I'm trying to "up" the nutritional value and minimize the damage... So I paired the dogs with TJ's sweet potato oven fries (cook 'em high and hot, or they'll sog out on you), and dipped those in a little low-fat ranch mixed with BBQ sauce (my two current favorites are Sweet Baby Ray's and Famous Dave's Texas Pit.) And, of course, whole wheat buns. I put Dijon mustard and relish on mine, and tried not to look when C-Dub added ketchup to his. I just kept reminding myself, "He's a good man, he's a good man..."
For my money, these are the best and the only dogs out there. But I could be suffering from inexperience, since I haven't tried them all... Would you sooner die than eat one? Or do you eat several every week? How do they fix 'em where you live?
What's your favorite hot dog?