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Photos by Jaclyn Youhana | The Journal Gazette
To spiral cut a hot dog, you need a nonserrated knife and a skewer.
Doggone good

Weeknight wieners

Spiral cutting a hot dog provides more surface area to caramelize on the grill. It will also fit into a bun better and trap small condiments so they don’t fall off the bun with each bite.
After sliding a skewer lengthwise through the hot dog, hold a knife at an angle and cut into the hot dog until you hit the skewer. Roll the hot dog along the length of the knife to spiral cut the meat.

It’s a favorite food among toddlers and even among many adults. Various cities have a “style,” and, no matter how you slice it (or cook it or top it), the lowly hot dog is hard to resist.

It’s an ideal weekday dinner for busy families that shouldn’t be saved for Labor Day barbecues. We dug up some quick-and-easy tips for a perfectly easy and easily perfect meal.

Toppings

Bo Gonzalez runs Fort Wayne’s Brava’s Dogs hot dog cart, and his tip to creating the perfect hot dog toppings is to figure out what else you have a taste for.

“What I like to do is think of my favorite foods I’d like to eat that typically aren’t on hot dogs and try and put them on hot dogs,” he says. “Guacamole seems to be a winner with everyone. It’s really simple to make, too.”

For Brava’s El Gringo dog, Gonzalez tops the hot dog with homemade chili. It takes up to two hours to make, though, so for a quick weeknight dinner, he suggests skipping the chili, topping the dog instead with guacamole, crushed up corn chips and pico de gallo or salsa.

The cook

On the hot dog stand, Gonzalez boils his dogs. To tell when they’re finished, Gonzalez says to look at the end of the hot dog. When the casing is torn at that seam – but not exploded – that means the dog is cooked through.

To assure the hot dog retains the most flavor during the boil, and to add some extra spice to the dog, Gonzalez suggests putting a beef bullion cube in the water as the hot dog cooks.

A technique to try

Gonzalez says a friend recently showed him an online tutorial for a new way to grill hot dogs: the spiral cut. He hasn’t tried it yet but says he’s eager to.

One video tutorial from Chow.com, which calls itself the smartest food site on the web, gives these instructions: Spear the dog lengthwise with a skewer until the skewer pokes out the other end. Hold your knife at an angle and cut perpendicular to the dog as you roll it away from you. By cutting a dog this way, it grills the hot dog straight, allowing an even char on all sides.

The finished product will fit in a bun perfectly, according to Chow.com. Plus, it creates more surface area, “so you get more crispy, caramelized meat goodness.” The cuts form little crevices, so your little condiments don’t slide around.

Something different

For a play on the traditional corn dog, try this Easy and Quick Corn Dog Muffins recipe from Food.com.

8 1/2 ounces corn muffin mix

1 egg

1/3 cup milk

3 hot dogs

Cooked ketchup (optional)

Prepare the corn muffin batter as directed on the box. Chop the hot dogs into bite-size pieces. Mix the hot dog pieces into the batter. Pour batter into a greased muffin tin.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Eat plain or with ketchup.

Serves three to six.

jyouhana@jg.net

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