Wednesday, September 15, 2010

DAY 1: Hot Dog Challenge! 3 Days, 6 brands! What hot dog will reign supreme?

The subject here says it all, and the picture at the left tells the story of the competitors...or so we thought!

What originally started out as a hot dog grill out for as a going away for one Master Sergeant who was mobilized to McGuire Air Force Base, NJ from Minneapolis for the last 6 months has turned into a hot dog showdown!  Having 3 dozen leftover slider buns from the Stefania tasting at our home this past weekend, I didn't want those buns to go to waste, so at the last minute, I changed the hot dogs on the menu to sliders.  That said, we had Hebrew National hot dogs in the fridge that I would cook a day later.

Unfortunately, or fortunately perhaps, that 7 pack of hot dogs would not be enough, so I ran over to our commissary on base to grab another pack of hot dogs so we could all have two dogs a piece for lunch.  Instead of grabbing the same kind of dogs, I had my heart set on grabbing the Boars Head Natural Casing Pork and Beef Franks, and I did.

On my way to the bread aisle however, I had to stop and see what other kind of hot dogs the commissary had on the shelves, and that was when I saw both the Nathan's Famous as well as the Sabrett.  These are both brands that I have heard of.  Nathan's are obviously famous from the the massive hot dog eating contest held annually on Coney Island in Brooklyn, while Sabrett seems to be the Vienna Beef (the famous hot dog of the coveted Chicago style dog) of New York.  Unfortunately, Vienna Beef dogs are not available here on the East Coast, and even if they were, it would be unfair to put them into a competition like this as they would be the hands down winner.  OK, maybe not, but in all honesty, they need to be boiled, and topped with Chicago style toppings, not grilled!

So now that all of that is out of the way, let's talk about day one:  The rules for today were simple.  First, I fired up the grill with some Kingsford charcoal.  The grill was cleaned, and the hot dogs were selected.  Today's dogs that I selected were the Hebrew National - vs- the Boars Head.  The dogs will be grilled to a nice char, and will be sampled by a panel of judges:  myself, Holly, Austyn, Cheryl, and Joe.  The hot dogs will all be served on the same type of hot dog bun, and each judge will use the exact same toppings on all of the different brands of hot dogs.  The only toppings furnished to the judges are mustard, ketchup, onion, and relish.  I know, real connoisseur don't use ketchup, but you can learn a lot about a person who puts ketchup on a hot dog!  ;-)

So the dogs came off the grill when I thought they were cooked perfectly.  They had a nice char on them, and had some nice, crisp, burn marks on them in various places.  They also had nice grill marks on them.

While grilling the dogs, Austyn came up to the grill and immediately pointed at the Boars Head dogs and said that "those are not all beef."  Hell of a good eye!  One of the funny things about all of this however is that I was the only one who knew the actual identity of the brands until after everyone had made their decisions.  So with that being said, let's talk results!

The verdict or today is that 4 our of 5 people preferred the all beef Hebrew National Dogs to the Pork and Beef Blend of the Boars Head in the natural casing.  Now lets talk about comments from the judges:

Per Holly:  "OK, the Boars Head: the skin had that great snap when you bit into it and a nice smooth texture, but I definitely preferred the taste of the Hebrew's. All beef for me :) "  Her husband Austyn however preferred the taste of the Boars Head, and I think it is obvious that he prefers the blend of meats in a hot dog compared to the 100% beef.  Needless to say, there is nothing wrong with that!

For me, I have to agree with Holly.  The beef had better flavor to me, but the "snap" on the Boars Head as you bit into it was indeed very nice!  This reminded me of the Best Brand hot dogs that I used to eat while working on Fort Monmouth.

So at the end of day 1, it seems as though the Hebrew Nationals have the lead.  BUT, what the judges have to do is pick another winner tomorrow, and then be able to remember and compare that winner to what we have eaten today.  BUT, I am going to throw one more twist into this!  After buying all the interesting brands of dogs that our commissary carries, I stopped at the local Acme on the way home, and picked up yet again two more brands of hot dogs.  First, Dietz and Watson as this is yet another name you hear often, as well as the classic Ballpark Frank!  The way I see it, tomorrow is only Thursday, and that leaves Friday to do some more grilling, so yes, you guessed it, we're going to a 6 dog show down baby!  Stay tuned as there is much more to come!  A flip of a United States Air Force challenge coin will determine which two dogs will go head to head tomorrow!  Cheers!  -F. Scott

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You guys do the most awesome stuff! Love reading your blog as we are new to New Jersey! Did a search on Google and Chowhound and you guys came up over and over. We live in Ewing. Any suggestions on restaurants in Ewing? Thanks!