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Turn Your Hot Dog into a Top Dog

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(CNN) - 5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe. July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.

Unless you’re going rogue on some frankfurters this summer like the competitive eaters at Coney Island, you’re going to want to make sure your dog is dressed to impress for the festivities.

Thankfully, Josh Sharkey and Brandon Gillis of Bark Hot Dogs have got all the fixins’ to make sure your sausage turns up in the wiener’s circle.

Five Tips for Hot Dog Success: Josh Sharkey and Brandon Gillis

1. Start with the classics

“Why mess with a good thing? We’re big believers in keeping American classics classic. That’s why we love Heinz for ketchup, French’s and Gulden’s for mustard and of course, Hellmann’s for mayonnaise.

These condiments provide the perfect balance of sweetness, acidity, tang and fat for dressing dogs. Plus, they work so well with other all other toppings. If it isn’t broke, why fix it?”

2. Pickles, pickles and more pickles

“We use a lot of pickles — bread & butter pickles, dill pickles, pickled red onions and pickled jalapeƱos to name a few. The crisp, sweet acidity of pickles provides the perfect contrast to the rich and fatty snap of a hot dog.

Want to make your own special relish, but don’t have the time? Buy a few different types of pickles from the store, chop finely and you have relish in an instant.

Balance the relish out with some mayonnaise and mustard and you have hot dog nirvana.”

3. Cabbage a million ways

“Cabbage is such a versatile condiment. We love how varying the cooking or preserving method can yield such a different array of condiments. You can pickle it, braise it, ferment it (sauerkraut), or slice it thinly and dress with oil and vinegar for an instant topping.

For our slaw dog, we take cabbage and carrots, salt them overnight, and then toss with our version of a traditional slaw dressing. The cool, sweet, and tangy slaw provides a nice counterbalance to the rich and smoky flavor of a dog.

If you want to be ambitious, braise sauerkraut with bacon, onions, wine and apples for a hearty topping for the dogs.”

4. Meat-on-meat

“Take one part hot dog, add chili (no beans please), smoky bacon or pulled pork and you have just created a carnivore’s dream. The full flavor of a hot dog comes through with the addition of some soft, sweet and fatty braised or slow-cooked meat.

And if you want to ramp up the smoky qualities of your dog, a few pieces of crisp bacon will definitely do the trick.

To cut the richness of the meat-on-meat combo add some slaw or pickles. Either way you really can’t go wrong. “

5. Putting it all together

“Let’s face it — hot dogs are really hard to ruin. Just don’t overload the dog with toppings. It shouldn’t look like a clothes hamper from your college days. The idea is to dress the dog so that you can taste the flavor of the hot dog.

Try to play around with different flavor combinations such as sweet and sour or hot and spicy. Use braised pork shoulder with spicy slaw and mustard, or chopped pickles with marinated cabbage and mayo as a couple of options.

But if you ever find yourself in the vicinity of really great hot dog, we suggest you leave it plain and remember the reason why you came to love them in the first place.”

Is there someone you’d like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we’ll do our best to chase ‘em down.

See all our best grilling advice at Grilling 101

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