Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chicago Style Hot Dogs? What are they? Why the hype?

So I have been asked countless times, "What is a Chicago style hot dog, and what makes it so good?" Well, being from Chicago, this is an easy question to answer, but for many, until you have had them, it is just something that you will never understand. And maybe even after you have had one, you still won't get it. But growing up on them, this is definitely one of the delicacies that I miss out here on the East Coast. The traditional Chicago-Style Hot Dog consists of a Vienna Beef hot dog. If you do not have a Vienna Beef hot dog, you will never be able to make a true "Chicago Style Dog." End of discussion, it cannot be done. But if however you do have access to Vienna Beef hot dogs, here is what you do:
  • Heat an authentic Vienna Beef Hot Dog in water to 170ºF
  • Nestle it in a steamed poppy seed bun
  • Pile on the following toppings in this order:
  1. Yellow mustard
  2. Bright green relish
  3. Fresh chopped onion
  4. Two tomato wedges
  5. Kosher pickle spear
  6. Two sport peppers
  7. A dash of celery salt

That is it, and there is not a whole lot to it! The dog itself is the most important thing in my opinion, followed by the poppy seed bun! You will also notice that we don't put any ketchup on there, however, I do order mine with ketchup. It just gives it a nice added flavor, and I really enjoy it. Notice that it also states "bright green relish." Until you see this for yourself, you will not believe it, but once you do, you'll know it when you do see it. Also notice the wedges in tomato. These are not your typical diced tomatoes, not are the pickles your normal round, sliced pickles. These are spears. And finally, the sport peppers, which are tiny little peppers, and the celery salt. Sounds simple, but these are key ingredients!

So you're in Chicago, how do you know if it's a Vienna Beef dog? Easy, look for the sign! For a while, they had these signs at Target, at the little snack bar they have when you walk in the store. Unfortunately, these are no longer there, and I never got the chance to see if they were indeed Vienna Beef dogs there. Maybe I need to double check. We were however fortunate a few years ago to find a hot dog stand on the hill in Washington DC where they were serving Vienna Beef dogs! YUM! This was such a great treat, and I was so excited!

Regardless, if there is a food that I miss from "Sweet Home Chicago" other than the original Pizzeria Uno, or beef and cheddar sandwiches from Portillo's, it is the Vienna Beef hot dog! Used to really love them from Dog Tracks in Barrington, and from Wrigleyville Dogs near Wrigley Field.

So xext time you're in Chicago, give one a try for yourself, and think of me salivating as you bite into it! In the mean time, I will keep boiling the stash I have in my freezer until they are gone. Now if only I could find some good poppy seed buns here in Jersey! Cheers!

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