Putting On The Dog . . . Chicago Style, That Is

Left click on hot dog.

We all have our guilty pleasures. Mine is an occasional hot dog. Coney Island style with its chili topping, Red Hots from Maine or Chicago style with its unique combination of condiments. They’re all delicious, but I have to admit they always taste better at a ball game. However, you can come very close preparing your own. Why not try the Chicago style?


All beef hot dogs with natural casing (The natural casing produces the required snap when you bite into it.)

High quality hot dog buns, preferably poppy seed

Yellow mustard (not brown or Dijon; ketchup is a definite no-no)

Sweet pickle relish (yes, the neon green one)

White onion, chopped (Vidalia is a good choice.)

Ripe tomato, sliced into thin wedges

Crunchy dill pickle spears (neither too spicy nor sour)

Sport peppers

Celery salt


1. Bring water to a boil in a pot with a steamer insert. Steam hot dogs for 5 to 6 minutes.

2. Steam rolls until heated through.

3. Place each hot dog in a bun.

4. Squirt yellow mustard directly on hot dog preferably in a zigzag pattern.

5. Add a generous amount of sweet relish

6. Place chopped onions on top of dog.

7. Place two tomato wedges between the top of the dog and the bun

8. Place pickle spears between dog and bottom of the bun.

9. Place sport peppers, either two whole or sliced, on top of dog.

10. Sprinkle a dash of celery salt over dog. Chow down!

These Dogs Are Hot!

by Victor Ribaudo

Hot dogs are funny things. No matter how sophisticated your tastes are, you still crave them – especially this time of year. After all, they are a mainstay at baseball games and backyard barbecues. We New Yorkers also have our hot dog street vendors. Two-to-go as you stroll Midtown on a sunny day – nothing like it. Any way you can get them, you do. I’m certainly no exception.

Hot dogs – or Franks, as we called them when I was a kid – have always been a personal favorite. Mom would pop them into the broiler during the winter months or on a grill during the summer. At the same time she’d lay out those frozen French fries on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. All that was left was the warming of some baked beans and sauerkraut and boy, a feast was born. It was like a day off for her, since her meals usually consisted of two hour stints in the kitchen. This was a 20 minute fix for a hungry family.

Sauerkraut and mustard toppings were de rigueur when I was young. As I hit the New York City pavement my first year of college I discovered the onions in tomato sauce so generously offered by the hot dog vendors. I don’t know what goes into that stuff, but it’s addictive. Of course, being obsessed with food as I am, I wanted more. That’s when I ventured into the college hangouts for an eclectic array of toppings. Raw onions, sweet relish and melted cheddar were my first foray into that world. Then, of course, there were chili dogs. Sloppy, but heavenly. Did I stop there? No. I wanted some pork, so I began to request crispy bacon with my dogs. Hey, I was in my late teens and early twenties. That was health food to me back then.

So what about now? Well, I’m still up for any combination of toppings I can get. One of my favorite hangouts is Lansky’s Deli on Columbus Avenue and 71st Street in New York’s Upper West Side. They feature a foot long dog – fried, of course – and topped with anything you like. I prefer crispy pastrami bits, cheddar cheese, ketchup and sautéed onions. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I usually start with an appetizer. You guessed it – pigs in a blanket. Listen, if I’m doggin’ it I’m going all the way.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I’m limited. I do include the hot dog in some classic cuisine. (Well, maybe not classic but definitely cuisine by the strictest definition of the word.) That means my homemade mac ‘n cheese will often sport pieces of grilled hot dogs in the mix before it goes into the oven to crisp up. The smokiness of the dogs is a perfect counterfoil to the mellow cheese sauce. And you haven’t tried my hot dog frittata. Don’t laugh. I sauté sliced hot dogs in some olive oil until nicely seared. After removing the slices from the pan, in goes lots of sliced onions. When they are caramelized, I return the hot dog slices to the pan and add the beaten eggs. When the frittata is just about done, I cover with slices of cheddar cheese and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Let me tell you, this is a meal fit for a king. You must try it.

Whatever you do, be sure to buy the best quality hot dogs you can find. There is a difference. Dogs that plump up when you cook them are suspicious to me. Oh, hot dogs do grow a bit when they hit the grill, broiler or boiling water. But they shouldn’t end up looking like knockwurst. That’s a whole different animal for a different blog. And as for your buns, the choice is really up to you. I can eat a hot dog in Italian bread or sandwiched in pita. It’s more about the dog and less about the bread for me. Please be sure that the hot dog bun or roll or whatever is at least warm, though. Nothing worse than a sizzling hot dog in a piece of cold bread.

I continue to look for new ways to top my hot dogs. Lately I’ve been getting into chutney. I like the way the sweetness plays with the saltiness of the dog. I’m also fooling around with sautéed jalapenos. I usually accompany this with a blue cheese and dollop of sour cream. Hey, let me know what you come up with. I’m in the mood for something new this weekend.

Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin

Photographer Bill Brady

Written by Victor Ribaudo

Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

Easter Ham with Maple and Mustard Glaze

Plated ham with potatoes and spring vegetables

A succulent glazed ham is an easy and classic choice for a holiday celebration. And since Easter is right around the corner, why not plan on picking up a half pre-cooked ham, either shank or butt end if you will be serving 12 or fewer people.  For a larger number of people, a whole ham would be your best choice. Providing you’re not going for a smoked country ham, a ready-to-eat ham is an economical choice as it often goes on sale just before Easter.  Even so, look for the best quality. “In natural juices” on the label will assure a better flavor than”with water added”.

Now, which to buy, the butt end or the shank end?  The butt end will provide more meat, although it will be more difficult to slice because of the shape of the bone.


½ ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (not spiral cut), shank or butt end, 8-11 lbs.

About 50 cloves


½ cup champagne vinegar

¾ cup maple syrup

½ cup country-style Dijon mustard

2 T apricot jam

Pinch of kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


1. Remove the ham from the refrigerator still in its wrapping a couple of hours before you’re planning to cook so as to bring it close to room temperature.

2. Make a diamond pattern on the ham by cutting straight lines into the fat with a sharp knife about ½ inch deep parallel to each other.  Score another set of lines at a 45 degree angle to the first to create a diamond pattern. The classic appearance is achieved by inserting a clove at each intersection.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place ham, fat side up in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil.  Cook ham in oven for one hour.

4. While ham is cooking, make glaze.  In a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium heat until reduced to 2 T.

5. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam and salt.  Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Season with pepper to taste and set aside.

6. Remove ham from oven and brush top and sides generously with one third of the glaze.

7. Return to oven.  Remember that the ham is already cooked so you don’t have to cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees as is often instructed.  The ham will need about another half hour of cooking to achieve an inner temperature between 110 and 120 degrees.  It will be very warm, if not hot, and is more likely to retain its moisture.

8. Baste every ten minutes with the glaze. Don’t baste ham with its own juices as the glaze might wash off.

9. Take the ham out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Spiral ham

Everyone’s a Ham by Victor Ribaudo

With Easter fast approaching, many of us are planning the big spread.  A couple of blogs back I spoke about my love affair with lamb.  That’s always been the holiday staple in my home this time of year.  I’d be remiss, however, if I didn’t extol the virtues of the ever popular ham.  It also makes an appearance on so many an Easter dining table.

In fact, it almost always seems to be present at any festive holiday meal in America.  Probably because it’s easy to prepare and it just tastes so good!

When I discuss ham with people my age (over 30 is all I’m admitting to) almost everyone has a similar early experience.  Many of us were served the ones that come from those oversized tin cans.  Opening them was a perilous job which my Mom would only entrust to my Dad.  I believe we called them Polish hams in our home.  I don’t know that it really made sense to do so.  I do know that they were usually donned with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries before being popped in the oven to warm through.  They were tasty, especially in the following day’s lunch boxes – nestled between two slices of bread with copious amounts of mustard, of course.

Spiral ham platter

The canned variety doesn’t find its way to my table anymore.  I, as most of my fellow foodies, have graduated to more lofty ham aspirations.  There are all sorts of varieties from which to choose – boneless, bone-in…smoked, sugar-cured…whole, butt, shank, spiral.  You name it, it’s out there and pre-cooked or cured for your convenience.

My personal favorites are the smoky varieties. (Smithfield, yum!) Bone- in, of course.  I mean, who doesn’t look forward to pea soup simmered with a ham bone?  The bone is a must for this home chef.

Lentil and Bean Soup

What’s interesting to me is that although in its purest form ham is just a cured roast, there are so many delectable ways to enhance it.  I like my ham studded with cloves.  Call me a purist, but it just works.  And I prefer it glazed with a sweet concoction.  A nice counterpart to the saltiness of the meat.  (Try Phyllis’ recipe above.  It’s a winner.)

I don’t stop there, though.  Fruit and ham go together like love and marriage.  (Come on, you know it’s true!)  And although pineapple and ham make a heavenly pair, I will often complement mine with peaches sautéed in butter and kissed with a bit of rum.  Over the top for you?  Well, any fruit compote will do, really.  I would stay away from pears and apples for Easter, though.  Too autumnal.

Baguette with ham and brie

Now, I must admit that my favorite uses for ham fall in the leftovers department.  I adore it fried up with eggs the following morning.  Divine.  Sliced and pressed in a panini with brie for lunch.  Irresistible.  Cubed in dinner time soups, stews and salads.  Doesn’t get any better.  Yes, I can eat ham all day long.  My mouth may be dry at midnight, but I’m fully sated.

You know, I’ve just decided to serve ham along with the leg of lamb at my Easter celebration.  I’m hoping that all of the lamb goes, and there’s plenty of ham left over.  It’ll be a salty Monday…and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it.

Recipe by Phyllis Kirigin

Photographer Bill Brady

Written by Victor Ribaudo

Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

Abigail-Madison Chase says:

April 13, 2011 at 6:49 pm

This looks delicious I am trying it for Easter!

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