Hot Dogs

I love hotdogs, I surely do, buuuuuuuut… My Sis worked in a hotdog factory once; I don’t think she’s eaten one since. If you think pink slime is bad… And anyway, have you checked the prices on these pies lately? Nasty ones are going $4 to $5, and quality almost double that. Time to get busy then; you make ’em, you know what’s in ’em, and they’re way better than anything you can buy.

This is a take on the snappy, lightly smoked, garlic and paprika-flavored all-beef dogs served at Gray’s Papaya and Papaya King in New York City. Made with good local beef, these hot dogs are just about the juiciest, most flavorful you’ll ever enjoy. My version was adapted from Ryan Farr’s original recipe. Mine has some changes for flavor and to save you some time and effort; I’ve converted original weights to measures for almost all the ingredients, tweaked the process a bit for home cooks, and altered the spices; I also used powdered smoke from Butcher & Packer, which saves you a bunch of work smoking the dogs, (If you own a smoker and enjoy that process, by all means do that; the smoking/internal temps and times are the same, either way.) Here’s how you make them.

Preparing the Casings.

Casings can be found as both natural and collagen style; I really have not had very good luck with fake casings. They taste fine, but are much less forgiving than natural when it comes to stuffing. For hot dogs and franks, you need a roughly 24mm or 1″ casing. They generally are sold in pretty large volumes that are more than a casual user will need. This offer through Amazon is the best priced, moderately sized I’ve found.

Snip off about five feet of casing. (Better too much than too little; any extra can be repacked in salt and used later.) 

Rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt clinging to it. Place it in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about half an hour. 

After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water, (Under 70° F). Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and then turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This procedure will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, just snip out a small section of the casing with kitchen shears.

Place the casing in a bowl of enough water to thoroughly cover the casings. Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar per cup of water; this will soften the casing a bit, which makes it a bit more forgiving for us amateur stuffers. Leave the casing in the water/vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. 

Rinse casings thoroughly before stuffing. 

 

NOTE ON MEAT: If you can’t find the neck, plate, or shank cuts, you can substitute chuck for all of the meat and fat called for; they’ll still be spectacular dogs.  

2 Pounds boneless lean Beef, (Such as neck, plate, or shank), cut into 1-inch cubes

5 Ounces Beef Fat, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 teaspoons Murray River Flaked Salt

1 teaspoon Sweet Smoked Paprika

1/2 teaspoon Granulated Garlic

1 teaspoon coarsely ground Smoked Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/4 teaspoon Celery Seed

1 Gram Pink Curing Salt, (Weigh this, don’t try to convert to a volume!)

1/2 teaspoon Hickory or Mesquite Smoke Powder

8 Ounces crushed Ice

10 feet of rinsed sheep Casings

 

NOTE: 

The ice above if for the actual recipe, not for bowl chilling. Just want to be sure we’re all on the same page with that… 

Place the meat and fat on a rimmed baking sheet, transfer to the freezer, and chill until crunchy on the exterior but not frozen solid. 

In a small bowl, add the salt, paprika, garlic, pepper, onion powder, and pink salt; stir to combine. 

Nest a large mixing bowl in a bowl filled with ice.  

Grind the meat and fat through the small die of the grinder into the bowl set in ice. 

Add the spice mixture to the meat and stir with your hands until well incorporated; the mixture will look homogenous and will begin sticking to the bowl. 

Transfer the meat to the bowl of a food processor, add half the crushed ice and process until all of the ice has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the remaining crushed ice and continue processing until the mixture is completely smooth, 4 to 5 minutes more. Note: The temperature of your meat during this mixing step is critically important. Temperature must never rise about 40°F. Work efficiently during this step of the process. This is as important for food safety as it is for a homogeneous blend. And yes, it looks kinda nasty raw; welcome to force meat…

 

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture into a nonstick frying pan and spread into a thin patty. Cook the test patty over low heat until cooked through but not browned. Taste the sausage for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Press a sheet of parchment paper or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the meat to prevent oxidation, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, (If you own a vacuum sealer, use that instead.)

Stuff the sausage into the sheep casings and twist into links about 5″ to 7″ long.

 

Preheat your oven to 175° F. Spread the links out on a baking sheet and slow cook them until the internal temperature of the sausages reaches 145°F, about 45 to 60 minutes. 

Remove the sausages from the oven, and transfer them to a bowl of ice water; shock for about 30 seconds, then set to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Refrigerate uncovered, overnight. Your dogs are now fully cooked and ready to be vacuum sealed, refrigerated or frozen. To prepare for eating just heat through on a grill or in a steamer.

Since you went to all the trouble, don’t you think homemade buns are in order too?