Hot Dogs are without question one of the longest standing icons of an American summer cookout. However, if it’s been a while since you last enjoyed one, you might be pleasantly surprised about how the dish has evolved over the years. And although they have become a staple convenience store and large public gatherings for cheap, fast, and low-quality fare, there are many high end (yes, even gourmet) options to be enjoyed.Here are some of our tips on how to elevate your hot dog game this summer and turn this too often low-end staple into a treat sure to surprise, impress, and delight the neighbors:
Pick a better dog. This is the single most important step. Although it’s easy to stumble into a bad dog at the local grocer, if you know what you’re looking for, delicious options abound. For an elevated hot dog that preserves the classic approach, opt for an all-beef dog (the Kosher options are generally excellent - Hebrew National, Sinai Kosher, Chicago Reds, etc.). Further, some of the nitrate-free (sometimes labeled as uncured or all-natural) hot dogs preserve the rich flavor while avoiding the undesirable additives. It’s worth spending a little more $ for a good dog. And it’s worth sampling several different products to discover those that strike your fancy.
Give your dogs a beer bath. Dissolve some honey and/or molasses into a stockpot with several bottles of a great malty beer, and then bring to a light simmer over medium-low heat. Once the beer simmers, reduce the heat to very low and add your hot dogs, making sure they’re immersed. Warm the hot dogs in the beer bath, but don’t bring them to a full rolling boil (this will render out too many fats and oils from the dogs too early). The beer bath will glaze the dogs with extra flavor. And the preheating will make them easier to grill over a hot fire - since you’ll only need to worry about getting a great sear.
Create some texture. I love to score the top of a dog a few times just before grilling. The extra edges and surface area will create more places to build a nice crust/sear, and more places that your condiments can collect.
Grill over charcoal and/or wood. You can get a nice sear from broiling in the oven, flash-frying in a cast-iron skillet, or even with a blow torch. But only a charcoal or wood grill will add the delicious layer of wood smoke flavor that can be the perfect final touch to a gourmet dog. Check out our Grilling 101 post for additional charcoal grilling tips
Skip the Wonder Bread (and other similar tasteless, structureless buns). A nice split-top poppy seed bun or a chewy pretzel roll can take a good hot dog to the next level. Explore your options (including making your own). Note that the ratios of bread to meat are crucial. If you have a ¼ pound dog, you’ll need a substantial bun that won’t get soggy during the longer time needed to actually eat it. If you have a small dog, you’ll want a lighter bun that will support without overwhelming the meat.
Elevate the condiments too. Not many people make their own ketchup, but those do have good reasons. A whole-grain champagne mustard will have you never looking back for the mainstream yellow stuff again. If you like pickles, definitely try the Garlic Dills from YeeHaw. Also explore non-traditional condiments: bleu cheese with raspberry chipotle grill sauce, white cheddar slaw with cinnamon BBQ sauce (https://www.culinarycrafts.com/ryans-homemade-bbq-sauce/), pickled mushrooms with cheese sauce, and more!
In the summer heat, nothing beats a good popsicle. But ditch the sugar loaded store bought ones and try this gourmet popsicle that is sure to impress a crowd.
White Chocolate Cherry Popsicle- Makes 6 popsicles
1 3/4 cups cherries
3/4 cup of half and half
¼ cup Solstice white chocolate (available at Harmons)
½ cup Solstice white chocolate
½ cup crushed Red Rock pistachios
6 popsicle sticks
1 popsicle mold
Remove pit and stem from cherries. Blend well until smooth. A few chunks are fine.
In a 1 quart pan over medium heat, scald half and half. Remove from heat and stir in white chocolate. Add to cherries and mix until combined. Pour into molds. Freeze for about 30 minutes and then add popsicle sticks. This allows popsicle to set and hold the stick where it should be. Place back in the freezer until frozen all the way through- 3-5 hours. To remove popsicles, take a bowl of warm water and rest the mold in a bowl for 5 seconds and then slide popsicles out. If they don’t slide out easily with minor wiggling, put back in the water for another 5 seconds. Do not just pull from the stick.
Once popsicles are removed from molds place on parchment paper and back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. While the popsicles rest in the freezer, in a microwave safe bowl put the ½ cup Solstice white chocolate. Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. If not completely melted place back in the microwave for 20 seconds, remove, and stir. Continue that process until the chocolate is completely smooth. Place crushed pistachios in a bowl. Remove popsicles from freezer one at a time. Dip top corner in white chocolate and then in the crushed pistachios. Place on parchment and back in the freezer. Continue with remaining popsicles.
Try these other fun modifications to this recipe for additional fun popsicles
Switch the cream and chocolate to sweetened beet juice for a Cherry Beet Ombre Popsicle 1 3/4 cups cherries
¼ cup water
½ tsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of pepper
1/2 pound of beets, juiced (1/2 cup of beet juice)
2 tbsp sugar
Combined beet juice, vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper together. Mix until combined.
Pour cherry mixture into the molds, about two-thirds of the way full. Put into the freezer for about 15-20 minutes, pull out and pour beet juice into the tops of the molds. Using your popsicle stick, you will distribute the beet juice into the cherry mixture just enough to give it that ombre coloring. Don’t stir the cherry but gently disrupt some of it so the beet juice can permeate that top layer. Place back in the freezer until frozen all the way through (3-5 hours)
Try a different fruit. Try fig puree instead of cherries! This unique fruit will get your guests tastebuds tingling. Cream fig popsicle 1 3/4 cups figs 1/4 cup of sugar 1/4 cup water
3/4 cup of half and half
¼ cup Solstice white chocolate (available at Harmons)
Fresh figs can be tricky to find in the summer, but dried figs work great here. Just make sure to hydrate them- soak in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Blend with water and sugar until smooth. Follow the instructions above.
My favorite part about summer is inviting friends over and grilling dinner in my backyard.
The more summers I have under my belt, the less I spend time on elaborate marinades, seasonings, and spice rubs to be used in advance or as part of the cooking process. I tend to focus mostly on the meat and the fire. If you've got a great cut of chicken, pork, fish, or steak, cook it with a great wood and the let quality shine through in the simplicity.
This said, I do still spend a fair amount of effort on my finishing accoutrements. This Raspbery Chipotle Grill Sauce is one of my staples. It's easy to make. It can be made several days in advance. It goes with everything. The sweet and spicy notes complement and contrast to create wonderful flavor layers. This recipe is a good starting point, but I strongly encourage all grillers to experiment and make it their own.
Raspberry Chipotle Grilling Sauce
Yields 3 cups
8 oz of raspberries- diced
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
2 12oz cans chipotle adobo peppers
Kosher salt to taste
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
Cook until raspberries break down, then blend the sauce with an immersion blender.
Simmer the sauce, while stirring regularly, until desired consistency is reached.
Season to taste.
Store in an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight. Good in the fridge for 6 weeks.
Utah is the proud home of numerous world class artisan cheese makers. In celebration of National Cheese Day, here are some of our favorites!Beehive Cheese
In 2005, brothers-in-law Tim Welsh and Pat Ford left the fast-paced world of software and real estate seeking a simple dream to bring back the local creamery to northern Utah. This artisan’s skill and patience for perfectly ripening wheels make Beehive Cheese some of the best in America. The Beehive Cheese creamery is a modern cheese operation where old-world craftsmanship is embraced and the next generation of artisan cheesemakers are nurtured.
Vegetarian-friendly rennet is used in all Beehive Cheese recipes. Wadeland Dairy’s herd is a mix of Jersey and Holstein cows whose creamy, high-quality milk gives Beehive Cheese its signature butteriness. Beehive Cheese does not standardize their milk. This means that as the milk changes with the season, they adjust their cheese recipe to match the fat and protein levels present in the milk.
All the Beehive Cheese varieties are excellent. Our favorites include the Barely Buzzed, Seahive, Red Butte Hatch Chili, Fully Loaded, and the Aggiano. And did we mention we really love the Barely Buzzed? You can find Beehive cheeses at many local grocers. You can also order online at https://beehivecheese.com/collections. Be sure to try the Barely Buzzed - seriously we can’t stress this enough!
Heber Valley Artisan Cheese
Heber Valley Artisan Cheese is a small family dairy farm and creamery nestled in the quaint community of Midway, Utah. For nearly 100 years the Kohler family has been producing premium milk – pure, rich & creamy – to delight their consumers. In 2011, the family built a new creamery and began using their farm’s milk to handcraft and age artisan cheese.
The secret to Heber Valley Artisan Cheese is premium milk – the perfect base for cheese making – produced by their 150 dairy cows. These happy & healthy “gals” provide the best-tasting milk because of their superior care. The cows are grass-fed and roam free in mountain-valley pastures with natural springs. The Kohler family has also excluded corn and other GMO feeds from their cows’ diet as requested by their local raw milk customers.
We love each Heber Valley cheese we’ve tried. Our favorites include the Vanilla Bean Rubbed Cheddar, Queso Fresco, Juustoleipä, and all the aged sharp cheddars (2, 4, and 6 years aged). Yhttps://hebervalleyartisancheese.com/farmstore/.
Gold Creek Farms
In 2007, Gold Creek Farms discovered an enchanting 130-acre property in Woodland, Utah that had held a producing dairy farm some forty years before. All that remained on the property was an old open-air hay structure and a broken-down milk barn. Wanting to honor the land’s previous use, they decided to create an artisan cheese-making facility, using the milk from their own cows.
All of the Gold Creek cheeses, soaps and lotions are made using the milk and cream from their own Brown Swiss Cows, a cow specifically chosen for the buttery richness of their milk. You may have noticed a trend across all our local artisans - it’s the milk that makes the cheeses taste so delicious!
As with our other artisans, all the Gold Creek Farms cheeses are wonderful. But we do have our favorites: the Drunken Cheddar, the Smoked Cheddar, and the Woodland Blue. Order online at https://goldcreekfarms.com/product-category/cheese-collection/.
By Kaleb Crafts
Yes, there are differences. Important ones, in fact.
Gelato and ice cream are both frozen custard (milk, eggs, cream, sugar, and flavorings) desserts. They both face the same initial challenge: avoiding crystallization when freezing - i.e. avoiding a grainy custard even after freezing. The differences between gelato and ice cream come from the different approaches to overcoming this challenge. Ice cream is made by constantly and quickly churning the custard as it slowly freezes. Gelato is made by freezing the custard very quickly, under pressure, and with minimal churn. Both processes accomplish the same initial goal, but nonetheless create very different final products.
In addition to a slow freeze, and constant churn, ice cream also uses more cream than milk and relies on a significantly high dairy fat content (typically 14-25%) in order to stay smooth and creamy. Gelato's freezing process allows it to be produced with more milk than cream and a far lower fat content (often 4-9%). Since fats tend to coat the palate and impede the sense of taste, gelato flavors tend to shine through earlier and brighter.
Because gelato is frozen under pressure and with minimal churn, it's far more dense and contains less air. There are some Italian processed gelatos that do have air injected in order to increase the yield. These still have less air than ice cream. Premium gelato contains little to no air. This is why gelato is often described as silkier and more taffy-like.
Since gelato is denser, it stays frozen harder at higher temperatures than ice cream, and is hence often served at warmer temps than ice cream. This also contributes to many flavors shining through very well in gelato since their compounds are better tasted when they and the palate are no so cold.
It may seem like we're making the case here that gelato is better than ice cream. Quite to the contrary, our point is that gelato and ice cream are so significantly distinct that it doesn't really make sense for them to compete. We enjoy them both. Understanding and appreciating the differences allow us to enjoy them more!Life is short. Eat well.