No, this is not a picture of a "Nathan's" hot dog from the world renowned "Nathan's Famous" on Coney Island, NY.
This is even better!
Hey, I've got nothing against "Nathan's Famous" dogs, in fact of all the commercially made franks I've tried, they are my favorites, but these homemade beauties leave even Coney Islands' famed meat tube in the dust.
We were originally going to make these hot dogs for a Charcutapalooza challenge a few months back, but weren't able to schedule all the right folks in the kitchen to meet the deadline and so let the challenge pass. In the meantime, we've had the pleasure to meet the son of a friend, Nathan, who as a high school freshman, is already an accomplished cook. When he heard we were trying to find time to make hot dogs, he expressed an interest in joining in the fun.
We were happy to have him join us in the kitchen that day, plus let's face it, with a name like Nathan, this kid was born to make hot dogs!
Little did the poor guy know when he signed up for this duty that within minutes, our regular cast of characters would fade from sight, leaving him to work alone with me as we crafted these lovelies. Before he could sing the Armour Hot Dog song, Nathan was up to his elbows in ice cold meat paste and hog casings, and quite probably wondering what the #$@% he had gotten himself into.
All I can say is that this guy lived up to his reputation as a whiz in the kitchen, and the two of us cranked out a couple dozen of the best hot dogs we're ever likely to eat. The recipe we used (which I'll not replicate here due to its length), was from Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's awesome book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing . If you should decide that you'd like to wade into the world of charcuterie, and start making your own delicious meat products, I highly recommend you pick up a copy. I've cooked a handful of the recipes from the book already, and they were all outstanding.
Working over the course of about an hour, Nathan and I pureéd the already salted and spiced ground meat (a process I had started a few days before) into a uniform meat paste, then chilled it and stuffed it into hog casings. Next came some time in a smoker I jury rigged in my gas Weber grill until they achieved an internal temperature of 140 ℉, this took a few hours. Finally, we chilled the dogs in an ice bath and then slapped them in the fridge to cool completely as we weren't going to eat them until the next day.
Nathan took home as pay for his efforts, a bag of the wieners that he tucked into the following day. According to his Mom, he ate them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and proclaimed them to be the best he's ever eaten. After having a couple myself for my next day's lunch, I concur with his assessment completely. There is no dog I've ever had that could compare to these homemade all-beef franks. The snap of the casing, the smoke from the hickory chips, and the subtle spice mix that included salt, paprika, dry mustard, coriander and fresh garlic, made for an unforgettable taste sensation.
Thanks for all your help, Nathan, I can't wait to cook with you again!
Cheers – Steve