Winter has been long and hard in Chicago, but we’ve finally turned a corner. It’s now in the 80s, because as usual, we skipped spring. Needless to say, I’m headed outside as often as I can to practice my grilling recipes, since I wimped out and took the winter off. In Chicago, we take our dogs seriously. There are definitely rules about how we do – and how we do not – eat them. So what better to practice grilling and sausage recipes than by making a traditional Chicago dog?
Granted, a Chicago dog should be made with an all-beef hot dog. And traditionally we boil them and steam our buns. This is my first chance to grill this season, so I’m taking a few liberties, Chicago dog traditionalist that I am. Instead, I made my Chicago dog with Hillshire Farms #AmericanCraft sausages. I love the variety of flavors they offer in these hand crafted sausages, and the fact that they were on sale when I headed to Meijer for my #CollectiveBias shop just made the switch all the more appealing. 100% pork and no nitrates, no nitrites, and no MSG added means this is the kind of sausage I feel good feeding my family, too.
I’ll admit that this wasn’t the only substitution I made. When I headed to pick up the other ingredients I would need, I couldn’t quite bring myself to purchase the traditional florescent green relish that tops a Chicago dog. When I looked and saw fructose as the second ingredient and green dye as the sixth – ahead of red peppers, mustard seed, etc., I decided to go with an organic relish instead. If you’re up for that relish, however, know that you’re going more traditional than I am.
A traditional Chicago dog also has sport peppers atop it, but I’ll admit here and now that I am not a fan of them and left them off our dogs because no one else in my family enjoys them, but pick up a jar is you want to stay the course. The good news is that when in Chicago, you’re allowed to not put certain traditional ingredients on a dog, and you won’t get a second look. When I order one and ask for it without peppers, the guy (and it’s always a guy) simply nods at me and continues making my dog.
But ask for ketchup on your Chicago dog, and you just may find yourself escorted from the city limits. We just don’t do ketchup on our dogs, and that’s a pretty firm rule.
There are key components to gather to make your traditional Chicago dog – and the best way to do it is to line everything up on a buffet so that you can simply go down the line and create each one quickly. It’s a great idea for a summer barbecue, too. The most important thing is that your Chicago dog must be on a poppy seed bun. No exceptions. It just isn’t a Chicago dog in any other kind of bun. Once you’re ready with that, gather up the rest of your ingredients. You’ll need:
- Yellow mustard (nope, not any fancy mustard here)
- Diced onion
- Tomato wedges
- Dill pickle spears
- Celery salt
- Sport peppers (note they’re not pictured…)
Once your hot dog is grilled and on the bun, you can assemble it quickly. Place your dog in the bun, and then add the ingredients in the order listed above. Note that the tomato gets tucked into the top of the bun and the pickle spear gets tucked into the bottom of the bun. If you’re doing sport peppers, they go smack dab in the middle.
From there, you’re ready to pick it up and eat it – and don’t forget your napkin. This may be a finger food, but it certainly isn’t a neat one!
All of us were thrilled with this twist on the traditional Chicago dog, and we’re adding it to our rotation of sausage recipes. The Hillshire Farms American Craft sausages were an excellent substitution. I purchased both traditional bratwurst (for Mister Man) and garlic and onion (for the rest of us). They had great flavor and a crispy bite that even Little Miss commented on. So the next time the weather turns up – and for us in Chicago, that means the temperature hitting anything over 70 degrees – you just might have a new traditional to turn to.
Oh, and those Hillshire Farms sausages? Not only were they on sale when I headed to Meijer to pick them up, but there is also a Hillshire coupon available via Mperks.com. Just go to “Lunch Meat, Bacon, Sausage & Hot Dogs” department of the website or app, and you can save even more! Think you’re ready to start experimenting with these for your summer grill recipes?