If you’ve decided to let off a few fireworks in the back yard or garden and want a quick idea for a Bonfire Night feast there’s nothing better than an all-American hot dog.
First in terms of ingredients, the sausage must be a frankfurter. I’ve tried hot dogs with traditional English sausages and they taste perfectly good but they’re not hot dogs. Ideally they should be barbecued or cooked on a ridged grill pan but you can fry them lightly in a frying pan. (Boiling them makes them squelchy) Pat them dry when you take them out of the packet and roll them lightly in sunflower oil.
The bun, IMO, should be soft but not soggy. Slightly crusty but not hard. The best place to find them is an independent baker. You want a long roll but purpose-made hot dog rolls are too soft. You’re better off with what they call a “French roll” which is like a mini baguette only softer and fatter.
There are two schools of thought about whether to toast it. Some like to open it up and toast the cut sides. Others prefer it just soft, split and filled. Either way don’t cut right through it but leave a hinge on the side.
You'll need two 'dogs' per person, each of which will need two small or 1 larger frank. Here are four great ideas for fillings.
Two small or one large grilled or fried frank. A zig-zag of tomato ketchup. A zig-zag of French’s American mustard. If you feel like pushing the boat out you could add a sliced, sweet-and-sour pickled cucumber and some finely sliced raw onion
The Hot Dog Stall Special
Two franks as above with fried onions and French’s mustard. Otherwise just slice a couple of large onions and cook them slowly in a mixture of butter and oil for 25-30 minutes. (Or if you’re short of time you can actually buy some passable onions in a can called Eazy Fried onions. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar)
The Hot Chilli Dog
My favourite. Two franks as above plus a dollop of chilli (which should be made without beans - see below), a dollop of coleslaw and a good shake of chipotle (smoked chilli) sauce or ketchup. You could add some extra chopped onion to the coleslaw if the mood takes you. (I would.)
The Wisconsin Brat
OK, I admit I included this because I was so taken with the name. It should be made with a bratwurst but you can make it with two franks (as above) plus some soft fried onions, sauerkraut, a couple of rashers of crisp-fried bacon and a good squirt of honey mustard. And a slice of Emmental if you really want to be gross (between the franks and the onions so it melts).
In each case the filling should be lukewarm rather than piping hot so that a) you can eat it straight away b) the roll doesn’t go soggy.
Chilli for Chilli Dogs
Enough for 4-6 hot dogs
2 tbsp sunflower oil or other light cooking oil
250g minced beef
1 clove of garlic
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 level tsp mild chilli powder
200g tin or 1/2 a 400g tin of tomatoes or 1/2 a 500g pack of passata
Heat a frying pan for about 3 minutes over a moderate heat. Add the oil then, when it’s hot, tip in the mince and break it up in the pan. Keep frying and turning it for about 2-3 minutes until it has browned then tip away the excess fat. Add the tomato paste and mix well with the meat then add the garlic and chilli powder. Stir and mix well. Tip the the tomatoes, breaking down any whole tomatoes with a fork. Season with salt and simmer for about 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before using.
If you want a good soup to sip with your 'dogs' try the Easy, Spicy, Tomato Soup and check out Becca's brilliant 'bonfire cake' on our Facebook page.