When I was a kid hot dogs were a staple in our house. My mom always made sure to leave an open package in the fridge so that we could have an instant cold lunch. I liked them better hot, but what's an 8 year old girl to do when she's starving and Dark Shadows is coming on?
Then one day my mom read somewhere that hot dogs were made from pigs' hair, lips and rear ends, and the fun came to a screeching halt. She replaced our beloved hot dogs with celery sticks and apple slices, which while very good, just don't cut the muster when you are looking for a quick protein fix. Oh sure we still had them on occasion, but the fun had been taken right out of eating them.
Years later when my own children were young, I would buy hot dogs every now and again, only after pouring over the labels trying to figure out which one might be the better out of the available options. After exhaustive research, I would finally just throw a package of the most expensive brand in my cart and pray that just a couple wouldn't kill them.
This summer I won't have to face that old dilemma thanks to Applegate. They offer a full line of all natural and organic hot dog products that even my mom would feel good about serving. Their "cleaner wieners" do not contain hormones or antibiotics and are free from any artificial ingredients, fillers, added nitrites and nitrates. Their products are produced from animals that are humanely raised, and all of their organic products are made from animals that are fed a completely vegetarian diet.
Applegate provided me with a generous selection of their hot dog products for sampling. It was a hard decision, but I couldn't wait to try the Applegate all-natural, uncured Big Apple Hot Dogs that are a combination of pork and beef in natural lamb casings. They are everything I hoped they would be, with a just right smoky, savory flavor and a delicate little "snap" when you bite into them. Mmmmm, deeeelicious. I can't wait to try the rest of them starting with maybe the organic chicken or turkey dogs. Either way my guests are getting lucky this 4th of July.
For more information about Applegate's products, their Wienervention campaign, and how you can get a $2.00 off coupon, please visit their site by clicking here.
Since these are pretty special hot dogs I wanted to prepare them in a special way, so I called up a favorite food memory from many years ago. It was while on a trip to Paris with my family that I bought a hot dog from a vendor at the Eiffel Tower. The hot dog itself was pretty darned good, but it was the simple presentation that was so memorable to me.
The vendor cut a crusty, super fresh baguette in half, turned the cut end over a large wooden dowel and pushed it down over the dowel a couple of times to form a channel within the bread. He then squeezed a generous amount of mustard into the bread before then filling it with a steaming hot wiener. Had the unexpected heat of the French mustard not blown the top of my head off, it would have been the perfect dog.
Since then I have prepared my own version of this Parisian treat with a mellower mustard sauce poured inside on several occasions. Sometimes I also like to doll them up even further with a little dressed arugula, Boursin cheese and a sprinkling of grated Gruyere. These two hot dogs prove that an easy meal can also be a sophisticated treat.
Since I didn't have a large dowel like that vendor at the Eiffel Tower, I used my well washed and dried knife sharpener from my knife set to form a channel in my bread. Be sure to stop short of the end of the bread, leaving it closed to hold in all of the sauce and goodness. You can also repeat this process with uncut bakery hot dog buns or hoagie rolls if you can't find a baguette or French stick with a small diameter. To get just the right size, I baked my own bread using my favorite Artisan Bread in Five recipe.
Slightly Spicy French Inspired Hot Dog Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon hot prepared horseradish (or more or less according to your taste)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl. Transfer to a squeeze bottle if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Once ready to use, squeeze in to the channel of a prepared half baguette then top with a hot dog.
This sauce does get a bit stronger as it sits. If you are preparing it in advance and like a much milder sauce, I recommend reducing the horseradish by 1/3 to 1/2.
Frank-o-phile Hot Dogs
About 2 cups baby arugula
French vinaigrette (approximately 1/4 cup or to taste)
Boursin cheese (or any other soft spreadable cheese with herbs)
Butter, softened to room temperature (optional)
1 - 2 French baguettes (depending on the size of the bread)
6 grilled, boiled or steamed Applegate hot dogs
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Super thinly sliced red onion, cut into quarters (optional)
Toss arugula in vinaigrette, set aside.
Spread Boursin and butter on opposite sides of the inside of the bread. Place hot dogs inside of the bread. Top with equal amounts of the dressed arugula and grated cheese. Enjoy!
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*Applegate provided me with a gift pack free of charge, containing a generous assortment of their hot dogs, a butcher block, and a reusable tote for my review. They have also provided me with one to give away to one of my readers. I was not paid in any way for my review of their products. As usual, all opinions and statements that I have made here are my own.