Memorial Day is hot dog day for my folks.
Fourth of July is burger day. Labor Day brings on ribs and barbecue.
I love hot dogs and will go out of my way to try a place I’ve heard is good. But if you’re making them at home, here are some recipes to top your hot dog. Sure, you can buy all these, but homemade really is better.
Chicago folks, while I love a Chicago-style dog every now and again, I’ll send you to Matt’s hot dog wagon in front of Lowe’s on Grove Barton Road in Raleigh.
But remember you are in North Carolina, home of the slaw dog.
Serve with: Baked beans, potato salad, chips and brownies.
To drink: Beer, sangria, iced tea and lemonade.
Kyle’s Mom’s Chili
Kyle Wilkerson, a colleague on many cooking projects, and now the chef/owner of Heirloom restaurant in Roxboro (It’s worth the drive) got me started with this chili. To him, it’s his mom’s chili, but Gina, his mother, confesses that the recipe came from Durham’s Rose of Sharon Baptist Church’s community cookbook. It’s classic North Carolina chili. This recipe makes enough for a serious crowd, but freezes perfectly, so you can always have some at the ready.
2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons white sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
13 ounces ketchup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and then barely cover with water. Add all other ingredients. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes.
Dress your dog with yellow mustard, ketchup and the chili. For me, adding slaw is a must.
My Mom’s House Slaw
This is my Mom’s go-to slaw recipe, and I haven’t changed a thing. Every time I have served this slaw, it gets rave reviews. Add a sprinkling of celery seed if you like. It’s good for a couple of days and is great with fried seafood or barbecue.
6 tablespoons mayonnaise (I recommend Duke’s or JFG)
2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
4 cups finely shredded, almost grated, cabbage, about 1 small head
Kosher salt to taste
Stir together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and black pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cabbage and toss to coat. You will think that you might not have enough dressing. Be patient; you do.
Place the slaw in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove, toss again and salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Yields 4-6 servings, as a side for a couple dozen hotdogs.
NYC Push Cart Onions and Tomato Sauce
I talked this recipe out of a hot dog vendor who worked on a street outside the old South Tower of the World Trade Center. He died on Sept. 11, 2001, in the terrorist attacks. Use deli-style mustard with the hot dog, then sauerkraut and a ladle of the onion sauce. The leftovers freeze nicely.
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions, about 2 onions. (Don’t use a sweet onion.)
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon flour
15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
2 bay leaves
10 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Water as needed
Heat the canola oil over medium heat in a high-sided sauté pan. Add the onions and cook until very soft but not colored, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until you smell it.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir, then cook for about a minute
Add the remaining ingredients. Simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes adding water, a 1/4 cup at a time, to keep the mixture saucy. Remove the bay leaves and cloves before serving.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
Yields about 2 1/2 cups.
Linda’s Dad’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce
Gene and Veronica Pawlak of South Bend, Ind., have been making this chili sauce for their family and friends for more than 50 years. Their daughter, Linda Johnson, is my back-door neighbor in North Carolina, and she was the one to introduce me to this exceptional chili. It is perfect for hot dogs, hamburgers or any other way you might want chili. It makes enough for a neighborhood cookout. Leftovers freeze beautifully.
1 1/2 pounds ground round
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 16-ounce can tomato paste
3/4 of the tomato paste can of water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and cook until brown and no pink remains, about 10 minutes. Drain any fat.
Add the onion, salt, tomato paste, water, chili powder, oregano, crushed red peppers and sugar. Stir to combine and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. You can adjust the spiciness level by adding more or less of the chili powder and crushed red peppers.