Yesterday, I arrived in New York.
And from the moment I touched down, I was filled with excitement. Perhaps it was the hustle, the bustle, the sights, and the sounds that sent a bolt of energy through me. Perhaps it was the fact that I was actually wearing real clothes for the first time in months – not a matching two piece made from spandex and cotton. Or maybe it was just the smell of sidewalk food carts. The wafting mist of fresh pretzels, candied nuts, and what I had always thought was the aroma of steaming hot dogs.
“I love that smell,” I exclaimed, as my bud and I walked past a cart full of links and brats.
“What smell,” the bud replied, “the tobacco?”
The smell I had always associated with New York, the smell that I loved and that drew a giddy Christmas morning smile on my face, was not, in fact, steaming kosher dogs. But tobacco. Probably with a side of exhaust.
So no. It turns out these East Coast olfactory air waves are not full of hawt dawgs.
But this little plate of low sodium food sure is.
You’re looking at a fresh, home-made hot dog (ok, more like a pork fennel sausage) with a home-made hot dog bun. And of course, some spicy ground mustard on top.
While the bun recipe will be in the cookbook, I’ll tell you a little secret about the hot dog: it was really easy to make.
In a bowl, with my hands, I blended some ground pork with other flavors that I liked – chopped apple, fennel seed, pepper, and paprika. Then, using saran wrap instead of normal sausage casing (as it is usually brined which means too much salt), I made a long row of the sausage mix and then rolled it in the saran wrap, tying off the end. Carefully, I pinched a spot 1/3 of the way down from the top and slowly twisted, making a link. I did this again, another 1/3 of the way down. And then finally, I tied off the other end. Can you picture all of this?
Of course, to cook your gorgeous links, you can’t just throw the saran wrap sausage in a pot. I tried. The plastic melts. Who would have thought.
I tried using a steamer too. Also a bad idea.
So here’s the trick. Put your links in the freezer for 15 minutes right before cooking them. It is just enough time to harden the sausage without it turning into a meat-cicle.
Then, heat up a nonstick skillet on medium-high flame with a little bit of oil. Gently unwrap one of the links and let it plop on the pan, still in its recognizable hot dog form. Let it brown, approximately 5 minutes, and then turn it to the other side. Keep turning and browning the dog until all the meat is cooked, which should take about 15 minutes total.
And there you have it. Hawt dawgs! Low sodium. Without the tobacco smell.