What’s Cooking in America looked back to the ‘rosy fingered dawn’ of sausage history and discovered a line in Homer’s Odyssey "As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted.” The Roman Emperor Gaius (1st century AD) thought he discovered the links we love when he noticed intestines swelling in a cooked pig and announced, "I have discovered something of great importance". Who can argue with an emperor, but he was off by a long shot –– there had been sausages for 1000 years or more by the time he made that pronouncement. By the Middle Ages you could find sausage recipes in cookbooks all over Europe and in the Middle East.
It seems meat has been cooked in intestines and stomachs and such for eons – it’s a great way to cook seasoned meat, a method that keeps the beautiful flavor in one place.
The seasonings for sausages of all varieties are similar and haven’t really changed that much in hundreds of years. Of course, the introduction of chili peppers added paprika and cayenne to the sausage mix for many classic sausages. Otherwise, the same sweet spices and herbs show up all over Western cuisine’s sausage recipes (the Chinese, among others, use different spices).
And what about hot dogs? I read that the first 'frankfurter’ was born in Frankfurt in 1852 – it was also know as the “dachshund sausage” thanks to the butcher’s pet.
Hot dogs NYC 1906
Hot dogs came to America in the 1860’s, served from German immigrant pushcarts on New York’s Bowery with milk rolls and sauerkraut. The hot dog bun was born in 1880’s St. Louis, created to protect customer’s hands from burning sausage–– they were named ‘red-hots” and the original rolls were crisp, not soft. Nathan’s on Coney Island started selling hot dogs in 1916 and still serves the hot dog it made famous (they made more than 435,000,000 of them last year). 16 billion hot dogs are eaten every year in the USA.
Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile, 1936
According to How It's Made, baseball parks helped to introduce hot dogs to the rest of country beginning in 1893 with the St. Louis Browns.
I have now stuffed quite a few sausages on my own but have never gotten around to making hot dogs. The meat ingredients of hot dogs can vary wildly but the hot dog flavor comes from a classic mix of spices. Whether beef, pork, chicken, turkey or duck, they taste like hot dogs because they have a specific mix of mustard, sugar, coriander, salt, pepper, garlic and paprika—many have mace and marjoram as well. They also have a preservative or 'cure' in the mix.
A few weeks ago I saw a very bad photograph of a very good idea –– a hotdog stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon. I have been dreaming about the combination ever since. I thought for fun I would glam it up a bit.
I went to D’Artagnan and got spectacular duck hot dogs and D’Artagnan applewood smoked bacon – I LOVE their bacon and won’t eat anything else now (the smoke is divine). Added to that Irish Cheddar to stuff it and toasted maple-rye buns to hold it (I got the recipe online a few years ago and don't know whose it is but it's a delicious bun). Who says a hot dog has to be dull or bad? This is a rich nosh to be sure, but you will not regret the calories. I think this could be great grilled as well -- when the weather improves!
Hot Dogs –– Bacon Wrapped & Cheese Stuffed based on a Michael Symon recipe for 6 (but easily changed to more or less)
Peanut or Vegetable Oil for frying
6 D'Artagnan Duck Hot Dogs
6 slices Irish cheddar (cut in half)
6 slices of D'Artagnan Applewood smoked Bacon
6 Hot Dog Buns
Preheat your oil to 350 degrees –– OR–– heat grill.
In the meantime, split the hot dogs in half lengthwise, not cutting them all the way through. Overlap two halves of Cheddar cheese down the length of the hot dog then put them back together. Lay out a slice of bacon. At one end of the hot dog, secure the end of the piece of bacon with a toothpick. Wrap the bacon around the entire hot dog, securing the other end with another toothpick. Repeat with the remaining hot dogs.
Fry in oil till the bacon is brown and crisp –– OR –– grill till brown and crisp. Remove toothpicks and serve on rolls with mustard, fried onions, relish –– whatever you like.
Rye and White Sandwich Buns (makes 7-8)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast*
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoons maple syrup
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cups scalded milk
3/4 c rye flour
1 3/4 to 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 T butter melted
Place yeast in a large bowl. Add water and stir to dissolve. Stir in syrup and let sit until yeast begins to foam, about 5 minutes. Add salt, oil, scalded milk and rye flour. Blend
Add remaining flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Let rest for 15 minutes. Turn dough onto a floured board and knead for 10 to 15 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Turn into a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.* If you want to let it rise slowly, only add 1/4 t yeast and rise overnight in fridge. Let come to room temp for 2 hours the next day.
Grease baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Set aside.
Divide dough into 7-8 equal-sized pieces. Shape into hamburger or hot dog-style buns and p. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Brush tops of buns with butter; bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: 7-8 buns.