Thursday, December 26, 2013

6 With the Works at Home (Capital Region Style Mini-Dogs)


So I bought a Kilcoyne Farms strip loin from Adventure in Food for a get together I am attending in a couple of days. I defrosted the beef and trimmed it down as I like to sort of "dry age" beef roasts in the fridge for a while before cooking. The cut of the strip loin was a bit funny... There was really no fat cap to speak of and there was a large-ish hunk of chain meat attached (if it was meant to be denuded it's funny that the chain was there). I like big presentation proteins to look sort of neat so I trimmed off the chain and some other bits and pieces. I was left with about 1 pound of fatty trim.

I took this as an opportunity to practice my Capital Region style mini-hot dog making. I have tried before with modest success but there is always room for improvement in the the sausage-y arts. I went all beef stuffed into lamb middles this time. I used the recipe for all beef skinless franks from Len Poli's site as a base (I made some additions and subtractions). 

If you are going to make the mini hot dogs, then why stop there? I took the further step of collecting the ingredients for a full-on batch of dogs with "the Works" (onions, meat sauce, mustard).

I ground the meat (prob. about a 65/35 meat to fat ration) through a fine plate twice. At the end of the second grind I sent through a handful of ice cubes for added moisture and to keep the paste cold. I mix it in my KitchenAide at high speed for a couple minutes to emulsify. 


I stuffed the paste into the lamb middles and tied into about 3" links.


After resting the hot dogs in the fridge overnight I poached them in 170 degree water until they were about 145-150 degrees internal temp. I wasn't going to drag the smoker out for just a pound of dogs... To compensate for the lack of smoking I added liquid smoke to the meat paste. A lot of people feel all guilty about doing this, but as long as you buy a quality brand of liquid smoke (ingredients should be something like "water and smoke") it is a completely viable way of adding smoke flavor. Heck, smoked salt is all the rage these days (I've been making it for years) and that ain't much different in concept.

Poaching lends a rather unattractive color to the surface of the hot dogs (grayish) but the insides were all nice and pink and hot dog-like!


I didn't have the time nor the inclination to attempt to bake my own buns so I picked up some mini-rolls (from Perotta's Bakery in Troy) at Hannafords.


I have repeatedly tried to refine my Capital Region style hot dog chili sauce with moderate to limited success. I am starting to think I am running into a sort of ketchup situation, i.e. making it at home is more expensive, time consuming, and will never turn out quite as good as just picking some up from Famous Lunch or buying the Hot Dog Charlie's stuff at the market. I think my main problem is not using enough celery salt and mustard powder. Getting the vinegar-y punch right has troubled me as well...

This time I just picked up a jar of Charlie's sauce.


I sautéed up some of my dogs along with a mess of white onion.


To assemble my 6 with the works -- I like to use a standard spicy brown mustard applied to the bun thusly.


Mini-dog comes next with a smattering of onion.


Then the red hued sauce bequeathed upon us by the gods of hot dogs is applied.


And here she is.


I'm pretty damn proud of my self. The actual hot dogs turned out very tasty. My hot dog making method is actually starting to result in an acceptable texture. These were light, fluffy, and snappy with a very good flavor. This mess of hot dogs with the works was probably about as good as it gets for homemade. Not quite as good as an order of Famous' or Charlies' but pretty damn close.

I am a hot dog wizard. Tremble in fear of my hot dog skills.

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