Hot dogs remind us of summer, baseball games, back yard cookouts and picnics in the park. On the other hand we serve hot dogs year around when we want a quick lunch or week night dinner. Hot dogs and their variations cook quickly and are adaptable to many recipes.
We have the German immigrants to thank for introducing the hot dog or frankfurter to the Americas in the 19th century. The hot dog is a variation of the German wienerwurst. The immigrants brought along other old world sausages as well including the popular bratwurst.
Food historians say sausage is one of the oldest processed foods. Several cities in Germany, including Frankfurt-am-Main, claim to have invented the frankfurter. Its true origin is lost in history.
Sometime in the 1970s a woman’s magazine ran an article about hot dogs. They showed how to form them into different shapes to add variety to a meal. Sort of strange but I saved it anyway. About the only cuts I’ve ever made to hot dogs is to cut them almost in half lengthwise and then flatten them before frying. That works well for sandwiches.
Boiled Hot Dogs
Well, not really boiled but simmered. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a sauce pan. Lower the heat to simmer and drop in the hot dogs. Put on the pan lid and simmer the hot dogs for about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the cooked hot dogs with tongs.
Pan Fried Hot Dogs
A good method for hot dog sandwiches on standard sandwich bread. Kids like these because they are similar to grilled hot dogs but can be done inside. Cut the hot dogs almost all the way through lengthwise. This allows you to maximize the surface that will brown. Heat a tablespoon or so of butter, bacon grease, vegetable oil or shortening in a frying pan. When the fat is hot add the hot dogs, cut side down and cook until as browned as you’d like then turn over and brown the other side. Put on bread with ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickle relish or your favorite condiments. A slice of cheese melted on top is a great addition.
If you value your pans don’t let the kids cook these. Maybe it was only a thing with my kids but they were into blackened hot dogs. The problem was that usually blackened the pan as well.
Hot Dogs and Kraut
Make enough mashed potatoes for the number of people you are going to serve. Open a can of kraut and pour into a deep pan. Add a half to a full can of water. I use Bavarian style kraut that is slightly sweet and has caraway seeds. Heat the kraut to boiling and lower the heat to simmer. Add the hot dogs. Put a lid on the pan and simmer until the hot dogs are done, about 7 to 10 minutes. Serve the kraut over the mashed potatoes with the hot dogs along side. Put dark German mustard, ketchup or horseradish sauce on the table so people can add their own condiments.
Kid Friendly Mac and Cheese
Fix a box of cheap mac and cheese following the directions on the box. Set aside. In a large frying pan heat some butter or vegetable oil. Cut four or more hot dogs crosswise into thin rounds. Chop ¼ of an onion. Chop about ½ of a green pepper or add ½ cup of broccoli or other green vegetable. Put the cut up hot dogs and the vegetables in the hot oil and sauté until the hot dogs are browned and the vegetables are almost tender. Stir in 1 can of cream of tomato soup. Add a little water to thin. Pour over the mac and cheese and stir well to blend. Heat until warmed through or pour into a baking dish and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 30 minutes. Slices of cheese can be added to the top as soon as the baking dish is removed from the oven.
Hot Dog Soup
Heat a couple tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan. Slice or dice a few hot dogs, either leftover or not. Dice a few tablespoons of onion or add a couple teaspoons of minced dry onion or onion powder later. Add a cup of cooked leftover vegetables. After the hot dogs are browned add and stir in a can of your favorite soup along with a can of water. Some good canned soups to use include bean, tomato, celery, or onion.
Hot Dogs and Potatoes
Use a box of scalloped potatoes and prepare according to the box directions. Once it is in the baking dish stir in at least 1 cup of frozen vegetables, such as mixed, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower or whatever you have on hand. Add about ¼ cup of diced onion. Put the hot dogs on top of the mixture, pushing them down a bit into the vegetables and liquid. Cover and bake according to the box directions. Remove the cover and add grated cheese to the top during the last few minutes of cooking if desired.
Use your favorite cornbread recipe and do not add as much liquid. Pour into a deep glass or cup. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan or in a fryer. Use pop sickle sticks and insert into the hot dogs. Dip the hot dogs in flour and then into the cornmeal batter. Fry until the cornbread coating is browned. Allow to cool about ten minutes before serving.
Polish sausages can be used in the same way as hot dogs.
Buy hot dogs when they are on sale. Divide and freeze in portions the right size for one meal.
If you are tired of standard ketchup experiment by adding seasonings and spices to a cup of commercial ketchup. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.