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Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Dog Days of Summer
Friends, it is official...I think. Don't quote me on this because next week it is likely the temperatures will be back in the upper 80's and I will be posting a recipe for some icy alcohol-laced beverage in effort to forget about what is attempting to happen now. If you remember from my last post (the one with recipes, not the one promising to post recipes tomorrow) Fall had just arrived and I was gushing about Bistro food and well, getting ahead of myself...because just as suspected, fall checked out the very next day. I assume he went to the North East where it could watch the leaves change, drink mulled cider, and wear a scarf. Who could blame him really? The grass is still green here, the trees are still flourishing even despite the Gustav damage they've endured, and the people are still dressed in summer attire. It can be discouraging, I guess, for a season to see the entire population of a city dismiss its arrival by throwing on an old hoodie with their shorts and carrying on about their days, as if nothing significant had happened. I'dve left too and probably in a huff, just as Fall did, thinking to myself...to hell with you people, I'm going where I'm appreciated. And so it has been for the last week or so. But now...now, the end of October is rapidly approaching and the summer-loving folk of the South are wondering where their old pal Fall has run off to and why he is so late getting back. He has left us sweating it out...literally. "You don't know what you got til it's gone"...or something along those lines.
Today, it seems he is slowly moving back down, testing the waters so to speak...to see if we're really ready for his second coming. Today the temperature was moderate and the sky was it's signature fall gray color, and--and I kid you not, a leaf actually fell from a tree and landed before me on my early morning walk today--perfectly maple shaped and golden brown, stem still in tact. Sounds like things they are a changin....Moderate temperature, check. Gray skies, check. Falling leaves, check. Tell tale signs are pointing to a revisit. Hopefully this one sticks.
There's another image that emerges in my head when fall arrives, and that is one of Chicago. The perfect city (for me anyway) to celebrate fall in all its gray skied, brown leaved glory. And it's at this time, once my initial bistro craving has passed, and it has...that I long for that food that is known the world over for being authentically Chicagoan. No, not the deep dish pizza. The Chicago Dog--dragged through the garden. Chicago in the fall is something to be savoured, such are these dogs. I can't imagine a more perfect day than perhaps a beachside picnic on shore of Lake Michigan, the late evening sunlight dancing on the water as the sun sets, warm Chicago dogs and cold Goose Island in hand. Ahh...fall.
This is not so much a recipe as it is instructions for your next hot dog endeavor.
Happy eating, and fingers crossed, happy fall!
To construct your Chicago Dog, you are going to need the following things...most of which you probably already have on hand...one in particular (the poppyseed buns) I defy you to find, at least in my neck of the woods, without making it yourself. So here's your list besides the obvious, hot dog:
1.) poppyseed hot dog buns (the cheat here--get some plain hot dog buns, brush them with a little plain soymilk, and roll them around in poppyseeds)
2.) yellow mustard
3.) nuclear green pickle relish (you can use regular sweet relish, add a drop of green and a drop of yellow food coloring to it, and mix it up)
4) diced yellow onion
5.) kosher dill pickle spears (the claussen type)
6.) sport peppers (pepperoncini will do in such a case as you live in a tiny little town with no ethnic influence, such as BRLA)
7.) tomato slices or wedges
8.) celery salt
Instructions are pretty simple, heat your dogs however you please (steaming is the traditional method, however, I find steaming a Smart Dog gives it an unpleasant soggy sponge texture, I grilled mine). Steam your buns. Place hot dog on steamed bun, top with remaining ingredients in order given. Be careful to dress your dog, not the bun...and please give it a try, it in its entirety, before eliminating ingredients, as the flavors balance each other out to create the perfect bite. No one flavor should be more prevalent than the other. Your dogs will be best eaten standing up, with a beer (preferably microbrewed and from Chicago) and crinkle cut fries seasoned with lots of salt and black pepper.
There are a couple of notes for eating these dogs: 1.) putting ketchup on these would be on par with blasphemy. 2.) you should only use sliced or wedged tomatoes. 3.) don't skip the steaming of the buns, it changes the texture of the bread and makes for a softer, chewier bite and 4.) plain old yellow mustard is the protocol here--save the dijon and whole grain for something fancy.
Now go get some SmartDogs and drag them through the garden! :-)
Chicago Dog, "dragged through the garden"