How to Cook a Hot Dog (Sidebar)

There are as many ways to cook a hot dog as there are recipes and formulations to manufacture them.

Most hot dogs come to grocers pre-cooked, and virtually every “skinless” hot dog falls into this category.  All-natural, uncured, and other varieties have not been cooked or smoked at the factory, and thus require heating at home before being consumed.

Every single consumer has a preference for the way they like their hot dogs cooked, whether one chooses steaming, boiling, pan-frying, deep-frying, or grilling.  Many people believe the correct way to “cook” a hot dog with a natural casing is to place the sausage in a stove top pan with water, bring the water to a boil, shut off the burner, and let the dog sit in the hot water for 10-15 minutes.

My personal preferences run the gamut – I like them all ways, but usually pan-fry them or go with some variation of the hot water above.

With a natural casing dog, you never want to using too much heat, or too long in the heat, as casings (usually lamb intestines) are delicate, and the very point of using a natural casing is to keep the juices in and ready to ‘snap’ with each and every bite.  Rupturing the casing during the cooking process will spoil that experience, and flavor and internal savory juices will run out of the dog before you get a chance to consume it.

Grilling works best if you’re going low and slow.  A number of fast and casual food establishments drop dogs and sausages in the deep fryer for a moment, in the quest for efficiency.   As with any deep-fried product, the quality of the end result is going to be dependent upon the quality and cleanliness of the oil, as well as the temperature of the fryer.

With raw sausages, at home (like Italians and brats), I parboil them and then finish them in a frying pan or on a stovetop griddle.  You can add flavor to some milder sausages by putting onions, or herbs in the boiling solution; some people also make boiling solutions from beer or other alcoholic beverages.

With Hoffy’s Bacon Wrapped dogs, my greatest success came with a relatively low temp skillet/griddle on the stove top, and paying special attention to continually rotating/turning them so that the bacon would be cooked evenly and to a perfect doneness.