The Hippo


May 25, 2020








A frank for every taste
What goes into making a great hot dog

By Angie Sykeny

 From dense and beefy hot dogs to juicy dogs with a snap, the classic food can vary widely in flavor and texture, based largely on what it’s made with and how it’s cooked. 

The meat
Denis Huard, who worked for the former Schonland hot dog company in Manchester (now Kayem Foods, based in Massachusetts) for 33 years and currently owns DH’s Doghouse in Manchester, says there are two main kinds of hot dogs: those made with a mix of pork and beef and those made with all beef. 
“To me, there is a huge difference,” he said “An all-beef frank is very dry and gritty because it’s nothing but straight beef and spices. But when you have the beef and the pork together, it makes it moist and juicy. … Personally, I’d take the beef and pork over the all-beef any day, but it’s all a matter of preference.” 
The pork and beef hot dog has become the hot dog of choice for many ballparks, including Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. 
“We use Kayem hot dogs to service the entire stadium. … “[They are] all natural, all beef and pork hot dogs, prepared on flat-top grills or a propane grill,” Kyle Lindquist, director of food and beverage, said. “The hot dog is the perfect baseball food. … Nothing beats a Kayem hot dog at a ball game.”
In addition to pork and beef and all-beef hot dogs, The Flying Butcher in Amherst offers a gourmet hot dog made with wagyu, a high-quality Japanese beef. 
It’s possible that people wouldn’t taste the difference between a pork and beef hot dog and an all-beef hot dog, Flying Butcher Manager Mike Ardagna said, but the difference between those and a hot dog made with wagyu is undeniable. 
“The wagyu definitely tastes much better,” he said. “In general, it has more flavor because it’s more fatty and the quality of the meat is better overall.” 
Huard said that when he first started working with hot dogs years ago, hot dogs with beef, pork and veal were another popular option, but because the price of veal has gone up since then, it’s typically replaced with chicken. But there’s a downside to using chicken, he said.
“While the chicken makes it a lot milder, when you have a hot dog with chicken, it turns green when you steam it, and it’s not appealing to the eye,” he said. 
There are also all-chicken, all-turkey and vegan hot dogs made with non-meat products, but it’s arguable whether or not those are “true” hot dogs. 
“They’re supposed to be healthier for you, but all that makes them a hot dog is that they’re in a hot dog shape,” Huard said. “Personally, if I have a hot dog, I want a real hot dog, and that’s beef and pork.” 
The casing
The hot dog casing also contributes to the overall quality of the dog. A natural casing is the most common, in which the hot dog meat is stuffed into a tube made from the inner lining of cleaned-out sheep intestines. This is what gives many hot dogs that iconic snap when you bite into them. 
“The [all-beef] hot dog usually has a pretty thick casing and does have a big snap on it, but that can be undesirable for some people. Kids, especially, are not big fans,” Ardagna said. “The regular [pork and beef] hot dog has a casing, it’s not a thick casing or a thick snap, so that’s what we recommend for people getting hot dogs for a big party with kids and adults.” 
For those who want no snap (or don’t like the idea of eating sheep intestines), there are skinless hot dogs, which are simply formed into a hot dog shape using a plastic mold, Huard said.  
The cook
As far as cooking methods, there are two main ones: steaming and grilling. There isn’t much difference except that grilling gives the hot dog skin grill marks and the slightly more charred flavor that comes with that. You can’t go wrong with steaming, Huard said, unless you steam the hot dog for too long; then, the casing gets tougher and has less of a snap. 
Ultimately, it’s a matter of what the hot dog eater is used to and likes better. 
“In my business, 90 percent of people want a steamed dog, but it’s all about their personal preference,” Huard said. “If you grew up eating steamed dogs, you eat steamed dogs. If you grew up eating grilled, you eat grilled.” 

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