Entertaining | How to throw a hot dog party


How to throw a hot dog party

Given the runaway success of Big Apple Hot Dogs and Bubbledogs - London’s smash hit champagne and hot dog restaurant, it can only be a matter of time before you can pick up a dog on your local high street. But in the meantime you can throw your own hot dog party in if you follow these tips from my book Sausage and Mash

Throw in a bowl of homemade coleslaw and a batch of Tater Tots or hash browns and serve some kind of bubbly (which needn’t be champagne - see below) and you’re away.

Here are my some thoughts about the two all-important subjects, The Sausage and The Bun.

The Sausage
Must be a frankfurter. I’ve tried them with traditional English sausages and it’s just not the same. On cheap stalls they're heated through in simmering water but I like the smoky edge a barbecue gives them. A ridged grill pan creates a similar effect.

Pat them dry when you take them out of the packet and roll them lightly in sunflower oil. How long they’ll take depends on how fat they are. The standard supermarket frank will cook in about 3 minutes. A superior German-style frank (available from German owned discount stores like Aldi and Lidl and specialist delis) about 6-8 minutes.

The Bun
Should be soft but not soggy. Slightly crusty but not hard. The best place to find them is an independent baker. You want a long, deep roll about 12cm long and 7-8 cm deep (not that you’re obviously going to measure it). A supermarket finger roll is too soft.

There are two schools of thought about whether to toast it. Some like to open it up and give the inside a minute or so on the barbecue. Others prefer it just soft, split and filled. Either way don’t cut right through it but leave a hinge on the side.

If you feel really energetic you could make your own - there’s a recipe in my son Will's Hawksmoor at Home cookbook or top baker Dan Lepard has a great one here.

Five good fillings

The Classic
Two small or one large grilled or barbecued frank. A zig-zag of tomato ketchup. A zig-zag of French’s American mustard. If you feel like pushing the boat out you could add a sliced, sweet-and-sour pickled cucumber and some finely sliced raw onion

The Late Night Hot Dog Stand Special
Two franks as above with fried onions and French’s mustard. To avoid stinking out your kitchen use Eazy Fried onions (available in Tesco) with a few drops of balsamic vinegar mixed in. Otherwise just slice up a kilo of onions and cook them in loads of butter without colouring them for about 25-30 minutes.

The Chilli Dog
My favourite. Two franks as above plus a dollop of chilli (which should be made without beans - see here for an easy cheat's version), and a dollop of coleslaw or a slice of melting cheese (you don't want anything too classy)

The Copenhagen
Some of the best - and cheapest - dogs I've come across were in Copenhagen - a sausage, soft onions and crisp-fried onions (you could use those packs of dried ones you get in Asian supermarkets), celeri remoulade, sweet mustard and ketchup. Awesome.

The Wisconsin Brat
I admit I included this because I was so taken with the name. It should be made with a bratwurst but you can make it with two franks (as above) plus some soft fried onions, sauerkraut, a couple of rashers of crisp-fried bacon and a good squirt of French’s honey mustard. And a slice of Emmental if you really want to be gross (between the franks and the onions so it melts)

In each case the filling should be lukewarm rather than piping hot so that you can eat it straight away and the roll doesn’t go soggy.

It goes without saying that kids love to create their own. If you want to keep everyone happy at a weekend lunchtime this is the way to do it. You can get suggestions for other fillings from these websites

Bark Hot Dogs NY
Hot Dog City, the website of the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council (true. I kid you not)

The drink
Unless you’ve got money to burn I wouldn’t serve champagne: any champagne style sparkling wine based on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay will do the trick. Or, cheaper still, Cava (but not prosecco which is too light)

Other options would be:
An American IPA or, nowadays, a British one, so many brewers are brewing in this style. A ‘craft beer’ in other words. You may want to lay on a lager.

Dry German riesling
When I say dry I don’t mean totally dry but you want that fresh crisp, flowery style rather than the limey style of an Aussie riesling

A soft fruity red
Merlot would be ideal. Pinot Noir not so good.

Photo - not from the book - by Valentina_G at shutterstock.com

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