July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day and while it’s pretty hard to screw up a hot dog (just ask any NYC vendor), it can also be nice to go the extra mile sometimes.
Enter the Chicago dog, which is essentially an entire meal on a hot dog. Let me start this post by saying that it’s possible Chicagoans will say that this isn’t even close to an official Chicago dog. It’s true that it’s not 100% accurate because some stuff is very local to Chicago (like really bright green relish).
Unless you want to buy a plane ticket though, this will get you pretty darn close and be a welcome change from your normal mustard/ketchup situation.
One of the most important parts of the Chicago dog is the bun. You need a sturdy bun and ideally it would be poppy seed. I’ve never seen poppy seed buns in the store, but it’s not too hard to make your own. Just brush a few of your favorite buns with melted butter and sprinkle them liberally with poppy seeds.
Bake them at 350 degrees F. for about 5 minutes so they toast lightly and the seeds stick to the buns. Don’t worry if some fall off though!
The next trick, and really the last important note about these dogs, is to make sure to prep all your toppings before you even cook your dogs. There’s some slicing to do and it’s better to just have everything ready.
Slice your pickles, cucumber, and tomatoes thin and lay them out on a plate. Dice the white onion fine and cut the pepperoncini peppers in half.
I also like to put out little dishes with mustard, relish, and celery salt so people can help themselves to those classic Chicago dog toppings.
When it comes to cooking your hot dogs a grill is best. If you have access to one, just grill the dogs on high heat until they are lightly charred and blistered. If you don’t have a grill (or if you happen to be caught in a rainstorm as I was on this day) you can cook hot dogs on the stove. Just add them to a skillet with a drizzle of oil over medium heat and let them cook until they get blistered all over.
Building the Chicago dog can be tricky just because there is so much to fit in. I like to start with a good smear of mustard and then add in my sliced stuff: pickle, cucumber, and tomato.
Then I add my hot dog and top everything with minced onion, pepperoncini peppers, relish, and a good sprinkle of celery salt.
You might think that the hot dog gets lost in all this stuff, but it really doesn’t. Hot dog experts chose all of the toppings over the years and everything mingles together perfectly. Give this a shot and celebrate the hot dog!
Chicago Dogs at Home Recipe
The Chicago Dog
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 6 large hot dogs
- 6 all beef hot dogs
- 6 sturdy hot dog buns
- 2 dill pickles, sliced thin
- 1/2 English cucumber, sliced thin
- 2 tomatoes, sliced thin
- 1/2 small white onion, minced
- 12 pepperoncini peppers, halved
- Dijon mustard
- Pickle relish
- Celery salt
- Poppy seeds, for buns
- 2 tablespoons melted butter, for buns
- Before you start cooking the hot dogs or buns, take your time preparing all the toppings. Slice the pickles (or by pre-sliced pickles), slice the cucumber and tomato thin, and dice the white onions. I also like to halve my pepperoncini peppers.
- Have the mustard, relish, and celery salt ready for people to add on their own.
- Brush the outside of the buns with melted butter and sprinkle them liberally with poppy seeds. Bake them in a 350 degree F. oven for 5 minutes to lightly toast and help the seeds stick.
- For the hot dogs, you have two options: You can grill them until they are lightly blistered or you can cook them in a skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil. Either way, they should blister and get lightly charred in places.
- When you are ready to build the hot dogs, start with a smear of mustard on each bun and then add the pickles, cucumber, and tomato to one side of the bun.
- Add your hot dog to each bun and then top with diced onion, pepperoncini peppers, relish, and sprinkle of celery salt.
- Chow down!