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Photography contributed by Patty Carroll Hot Doug’s in Chicago is one restaurant with a more sophisticated sense of baroque decor, complete with an archaic, museum-like case. That puts the restaurant into the world of artifact collectors. Frank “Uncle Frank” Webster’s collection at http://thehotdoghalloffame.blogspot.com is one of several other “Halls of Fame.”
Photography contributed by Patty Carroll Above: It is hard to classify Chicago hot dog stands exactly because many have always been integral parts of Chicago neighborhoods, according to food historian Bruce Kraig. Some stands are universally acclaimed, among them Gene and Jude’s, Murphy’s (shown here), Superdawg, Wolfy’s, Gold Coast, Portillo’s, Wiener Circle, Jimmy’s Red Hots and others.
Off the beaten path
Author Bruce Kraig said he often passes through our area on his way from Chicago to other places. His journeys have taken him through Sparland and he recommends stopping at Mississippi Tamales, a former gas station at the intersection of routes 17 and 29. He said. “This is unique in Illinois — specialized tamales.”
Obsessed? Food historian Bruce Kraig, professor emeritus at Roosevelt University, has a love affair with hot dogs. And he says that we Americans also are obsessed with the culture-neutral food. “The hot dogs themselves are sold all across the world,” Kraig said. “They come from Germany. Sausage is everywhere there. “After World War I, they (returning soldiers) brought hot dogs with them and they were very popular.” Author of “Hot Dogs: A Global History,” which won a Paris Book Fair Award, and his current “Man Bites Dog,” Kraig regularly publishes and speaks of world and American foodways. That was how he met Patty Carroll, an adjunct professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her hot dog photographs are on permanent display at Chicago History Museum. The book really is a history of the hot dog in America by Kraig and its photographic journey by Carroll. “I use her photos in all my lectures, so we’ve been planning this for a while,” Kraig said. “We pared it down so it’s more in depth in a popular way. “The history is not as in-depth as the first book,” Kraig said. “It is central to a lot of American ideals. I’m an academic and I’m used to reading cons into my analysis.” Kraig has traveled the country visiting a variety of hot dog stands, many are not very glamorous but many stand out in his mind. He says LA-style hot dogs are longer and bigger. Favorites? Pink’s chili dogs on LaBrea Avenue; Sole Dog by Jodi Morini on Venice Beach (he thinks they invented chicken sausages); a place in the Las Vegas airport; and Pat’s in Tucson, Ariz. Kraig splits his time between homes in Chicago and Carbondale, so of course most of his favorite haunts are in Chicago. Many are chronicled and pictured by Carroll in their book. They include Dat Dog; Hot Doug’s, where they make sausages made from different kinds of meats and toppings; Murphy’s classic red hot where they serve classic Chicago hot water dogs with a natural casing and served with hand-cut fries and fresh toppings; Jim’s Original Maxwell Street polish served flat, griddled or grilled with grilled or caramelized onion, pickles and hot peppers. Many more are pictured in “Man Bites Dog.” Kraig believes in buying hot dogs with natural casings that are locally made. “In Elburn, Ream’s Market makes its own sausages,” Kraig said. Another recommendation is Paulina Market near north Lincoln Square. He also favors some national brands that have stayed true to their roots including Chicago’s Vienna Sausages, Hebrew National and Usinger’s in Milwaukee. “What you want to look for is the natural casing,” he said. “That’s what you want. They give more snap and texture. Skinless don’t have the texture.” Kraig likes his dogs plain. “I don’t like sweet sauces on them,” he said. “But I recently heard of a hot dog with cilantro chimichurri.” His advice for a great hot dog? “Get the real thing, not the supermarket ones,” Kraig said. “A good sausage is a piece of art. We think of them as commodities and they shouldn’t be.” Cynthia Rolando can be reached at (815) 220-6934 or email@example.com.
NEW YORK DELI SPECIALS Once upon a time in New York, Jewish delicatessens could be found in neighborhoods and areas of commerce all over the city. One of the items still found is a simple hot dog centered dish called a “Special,” the nickname for a knockwurst, or kosher (usually) sausage. These are basically stubby, natural casing sausages, four to a pound and seasoned with lots of garlic. Hebrew National makes the best known of these. 2-4 knockwursts Water for heating 1 (16 ounce) can vegetarian baked beans Slices of (Jewish) sour pickles Yellow mustard Jewish rye bread Heat enough water to cover knockwursts to just under boiling. Place sausages in water and heat for about 10 minutes, until heated through.
SONORAN HOT DOGS Hot dogs can cross cultural lines, the evidence coming from varieties of toppings. Sonoran hot dogs fulfill several much desired qualities in hot dogs: acceptable ethnic ingredients; varied flavors; and abundance. A Sonoran is the proverbial “gut buster.” 4 hot dogs, 6 to a pound are better 4 strips bacon (chicken or turkey bacon are fine) 4 bolillos (Mexican rolls), split ¾ cup refried beans ½ cup prepared guacamole ½ cup shredded quesadilla or other Mexican melting cheese, or Monterrey Jack cheese 1 medium onion, finely diced 1 large fresh tomato (or more), finely diced Mayonnaise to taste ½ salsa verde (or more if needed) Wrap bacon around each hot dog and place on a hot griddle or grill and cook until bacon is crispy. Time will vary with heat of grill. Meanwhile, place on a layer of beans and guacamole on the sides of the split bolillo. Place a cooked hot dog in each bun, settling it in the bean-guacamole mixture. Cover each dog with a layer of shredded cheese, diced onion and tomato. Smear the top with mayonnaise to taste and top with salsa verde. Serves 4. Note: In Arizona these are served with a grilled guero chile and a grilled knob onion. Gueros are 3-inch-long peppers also called yellow wax. They are mildly flavored and could be substituted with the larger Anaheim pepper. When grilling them, along with knob onions, place on a medium hot grill and cook until they are charred on the outside. Above recipes from “Man Bites Dog.”
THAI SPICY CUCUMBER SAUCE HOT DOGS 1 cup rice vinegar ¾ cup sugar Salt to taste 1 pound cucumbers, peeled and shredded 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped 6 Thai bird chilies, crushed ¾ cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro 4 hot dogs 4 hot dog buns Place vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pan and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Place rest of ingredients (except hot dogs and buns) in a bowl, pour cooled liquid over them, and mix together. Allow to stand for at least an hour or more. When using, lift cucumber from liquid, but reserve it if more juice is required. Hot dogs may be cooked by grilling, but hot water bathing is equally good. Place cooked hot dogs in buns and top with cucumber. Serves 4. Adapted from Victor Sodsook, “True Thai.” New York: William Morrow and Co. 1995.
HOUND DOGS Since Chicagoans like to think that their city is hot dog central, here is an atypical recipe but one that reflects the city’s former meat and potatoes food reputation. 6 hot dogs 6 hot dog buns, split 12 ounces tomato sauce or “spaghetti sauce” 2 cups mashed potatoes 3 slices American cheese cut in half Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place hot dogs in each bun, spread tomato sauce to taste in a strip down each hot dog. Place heaping strips of mashed potatoes on each hot dog and cover each with a half slice of cheese. Place hot dogs in a heatproof dish, set in oven, and bake about 10 minutes, until cheese becomes really melted. To serve add more tomato sauce as desired. Best to eat with a knife and fork. Adapted from Carol Rasmussen, “All American Hot Dog Takes New Culinary Twists,” Chicago Tribune, Oct. 3, 1974.
FRANKFURTER TWISTS Hot dogs wrapped in dough are an antique recipe, at least in baking mix company history. This recipe is an interesting variation. 2 cups biscuit mix 2⁄3 cup milk 3 tablespoons chili sauce — not Tabasco or the like, but a tomato or tomatillo sauce 1 tablespoon yellow mustard 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish 12 hot dogs, 2 ounces each 12 skewers Melted butter Have a grill heated and ready for cooking. Mix biscuit mix and milk until soft dough is formed. Roll out on a floured board to a 9x12 inch rectangle. Mix the chili sauce, mustard, and horseradish. Spread over the dough evenly. Cut dough into 12 long equal strips. Skewer the hot dogs and wrap each with the strip of dough, twisting it into a spiral around the hot dog. Lay hot dogs on the board and brush with melted butter. Place on grill and cook until the dough becomes crispy brown. Makes 12 hot dogs. Adapted from Katherine Tromans, “Recipes Turn Lowly Hot Dog into Gourmet Frankfurter,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Aug. 29, 1957.
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