Danger Dogs and Mexican Hot Dogs

from: Jamey W. Bennett
to: Daniel Larkin
date: Mon, May 20, 2013 at 9:16 PM
subject: Danger Dogs and Mexican Hot Dogs

Dude,
I already gave you a sneak peek via text message, but I’ve gotta tell you—Mexican hot dogs are the shit. Which is funny, because they’re sometimes called Danger Dogs.

My first experience with Mexican hot dogs is with the variety known as Sonoran Dogs. Philly has the cheesesteak and Tucson has Sonoran Hot Dogs. Named after nearby Sonora, Mexico, these things are incredible, but unless you live in Tucson and have access to the amazing and famous El Guero Canelo or a street cart equivalent, these are tough to come by.

The exception is places like Los Angeles, where you can find little old ladies who have turned old metal trash cans into grills, and can be seen cooking these over a fire on cookie sheets at 2 am to sell to all the drunks coming out of the bars. I first enjoyed this completely unregulated health department Danger Dog nightmare with Pigeon John and King Charismatic after a Rootbeer show in the wee hours of the morning. The second time? Right before seeing LA Symphony and Wu-Tang tear it up. Let’s just say these dogs go well with good times.

My love was rekindled at a local cantina here in Philly. Their food is typically expensive, so when they added $3.50 Mexican hot dogs to the a la carte menu, I was getting them on the semi-regular with free chips and salsa. They recently doubled the price to $7 a dog, so I decided it was time to discover my own dogs.

So anyway, what makes these dogs special? Bacon. And peppers. And everything but the kitchen sink. The basic idea is that you wrap a hot dog wiener in bacon, and put it on a bun with a whole bunch of other stuff. The Danger Dogs in California (in my experience) are usually served with sauteed onions and peppers and whatever condiments you want. The Sonoran Dogs get crazier, usually dipping the dog deep in big buns, and slathering everything on top, including pinto beans. I’ve even heard that so-called Tijuana Dogs sometimes include pineapple and avocado.

In short, it’s a more-or-less a Chicago Dog, re-imagined south of the border style.

Here’s my easy approach to Mexican hot dogs. Gather up the following ingredients:

  • Hot Dog Wieners
  • Hot Dog Buns
  • Bacon
  • Fresh Tomato Salsa
  • Queso Blanco (I like real Mexican cheese crumbled, but shredded cheese is fine, too.)
  • Jar of Jalapenos
  • Onions and Oil (to sautee)
  • Fresh Peppers (serrano or jalapeno or something else)
  • Mayo
  • Hot Sauce of Choice

Now get a load of how easy this is.

1. Wrap hot dog wieners in bacon. Cook (preferably on a grill) until the bacon is the way you like bacon. Careful for flare ups, since bacon is so fatty.

2. Begin grilling the fresh peppers. Sautee the onions until carmelized. After the peppers have nice grill marks, throw them in with the onions to add a sauteed touch.

3. Grill the buns slightly.

4. Crumble the queso, and toss it up with some of the jalapenos. This makes the dressing of the dogs much easier.

5. When everything is done, assemble the buns like so: mayo first, then queso/jalapeno mixture, sauteed onions, and hot sauce. Then add the wiener/bacon and fill in the extra space with the fresh salsa.

6. Now what to do with your grilled/sauteed peppers? You can either add them to the bun for an extra kick, or what I like to do is grind sea salt lightly all over them, and nibble on them throughout the meal as a side. It’s absolutely wonderful. Picked this trick up from an old taco shack in Hawaii.

Finally, eat your Mexican hot dogs with luxurious, inexpensive abandon.

Oh, I almost forgot a very important part. Drink a beer. But you should do this before, during, and after the meal preparation. Also, before, during, and after the meal consumption.

¡Arriba!

Harissa (North African Hot Sauce/Paste)

Hey Dude!

Man, I am so excited. I finally tried my hand at harissa, and I couldn’t be more pleased. Don’t know if you’ve ever had harissa, but back when I was selling hummus, a company from D.C., called Cava, was demo-ing some harissa next to me, and I fell in freaking love with it.

What makes their harissa unique, and so damn good, is their use of stewed tomatoes. So I wanted to see if I could figure out a harissa with tomatoes at the base. And since I have several bags of smoked or dried peppers in my pantry, my brain put the following together

  • 10-12 sun-dried tomatoes (I used Bella Sun Luci)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 ancho peppers (dried poblanos, check a Mexican grocery store)
  • 1 smoked ghost pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Salt, caraway, ground coriander, parsley
  • Lemon juice
  • Red wine vinegar

My method was quite simple. I roasted the red pepper and sun dried tomatoes at 350 degrees. I pulled the sun-dried tomatoes out after about 10 minutes, then kept roasting the pepper about 20 more minutes. After it was roasted, I let it cool until I could handle it, and I pulled the skin off.

Meanwhile, I submerged the ancho peppers and ghost pepper in a glass of water. Likewise, I soaked the now roasted sun-dried tomatoes in a separate glass of water.

Then, I simply combined all the ingredients in my food processor, adding a few shakes of each of the seasonings.

I used the lemon juice and red wine vinegar for flavor, preservation, and pasty consistency, 1 tablespoon at a time. In all, I think I used 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, and 1-1/2 or 2 of red wine vinegar. Added a little more salt, and bam. I have a delicious African condiment. Goes great on sandwiches, meat, pita bread, mixed with hummus, whatever!

I’m not sure roasting the sun-dried tomatoes was necessary, so next time I’ll probably try it without and see how it compares.

Bacon Cheese Spread

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

Next time you’re in Knoxville, I’m going to take you to my new favorite watering hole, Public House.  Beyond the fact that there is not a single television in the joint, one of the best things about Public House is their bar-food – everything from three shades of roasted nuts, to truffle popcorn, and everything is local and fairly priced.

For my money, the best item on the menu is their Bacon Cheese Spread.  It’s essentially the most awesome pimento cheese served with warm crusty bread.  It’ll make you weak in your knees.  I know a few people who have tried to recreate it at home, but have come up short.  Fortunately, I think I’ve got it.

Here’s all you need.

The process is so simple a four year old could do it.

Grate the cheese with a thick grater and mix in the mayo, sour cream and Worcestershire sauce.  Now, decide how much banana pepper and bacon you want in it – a handful of peppers and a few slices of bacon should be enough.  Chop these up into small pieces and fold them into the cheese mix.  Taste.

Is it bacony enough?  If you’ve got enough bacon in, but want more bacon flavor, just add a little splash of liquid smoke.  It’s not cheating, I swear.  (Vegetarians can also recreate the bacon flavor with just liquid smoke.  Fake bacon would just go limp in the mix.)

There you go, dude.  Spread it on some buttered Texas toast and make yourself the most delicious grilled cheese heart attack you’ve ever tasted.

Fritters with Pineapple Salsa

from Daniel Larkin
to jamey w. bennett

OK, one of my favorite new side items is Fritters with Pineapple salsa. So here’s a brief overview of my recipes.

Salsa: 
Two pasilla (or poblano) peppers
One Anaheim pepper
One jalapeno pepper
One red onion (I roasted it whole, but I really only used the outer half, which had roasted most)
Half head of garlic
Six Tomatoes
Approximately half a pineapple cut into round slices – it looks like too much, but it isn’t.
One small can of tomato sauce
A small bunch of fresh basil chopped

Roast all of the fresh items on the grill, setting each one into a covered pot to rest as they finish. After the last item goes into the pot, let them all sit for at least 10 minutes. Skin and deseed peppers and tomatoes. Spread the tomatoes over the cutting board and work with a knife until it’s fairly smooth but has some chunkiness to it. Chop peppers and onion to small squares. I chopped the pineapple to various sizes – smaller sizes for flavor and larger sizes for taste and texture. Pinch the garlic cloves from their skins and mash/chop.

Mix all of the mess in a pot with salt and tomato sauce and simmer (not boil) for five minutes – just to mix the flavors. At the end of the five minutes, add the basil and a touch of olive oil and red wine vinegar. It’s good fresh, but it’s fantastic after a night in the fridge.

Fritters:
One large and one small squash – approximately 1-1/2 cups shredded with the large grates of a cheese grater.
Kernels from two ears of corn – I ended up with one cup. (I steamed the kernels for a few minutes, but I don’t know how necessary this is.)
Two finely chopped jalapenos
Enough shredded cheddar to be good – I made no measurements for this, but you’ll know how much is enough.
1/2 cup of flour – plus a little bit more
Two eggs
Pinch of baking powder
Splash of milk
Salt, pepper, paprika

Mix all ingredients. Fill a cooking pan with enough oil to halfway cover a “pancake” of the mix. Fry away, but keep it covered with a screen because we had a few kernels pop on us.

Top with the salsa.

Holy shit, dude. These are fantastic.