Hot diggity its the perfect time of year for a frankfurter

In honor of the last of National Hot Dog Month, I’ve decided to celebrate with a column about man (or woman) biting dog.

The origins of the hot dog are murky, but America’s claim goes back to the 1870s in Brooklyn, N.Y. By 1916, Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand was established at Coney Island by Jewish immigrants, and the dog’s popularity grew with the thousands of Jewish visitors.

New York City is still the top dog in frankfurters, according to National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. New York’s favorite is served with tomato-onion sauce and mustard, but Coney Island style has come to mean topped with chili. Chicagoans serve theirs on poppy seed buns with pickle slices, relish, pickled peppers, onions, tomatoes, mustard and celery salt. Here in the West, we are more likely than the rest of the country to enjoy an alternative wiener, made from tofu, turkey or chicken.

Here are some toppings to go with your kosher hot dog.


Onions with Ketchup Sauce

Makes 2 cups

2 tsp. oil

2 medium onions, cut in half and thinly sliced

1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. paprika

1⁄8 tsp. ground cloves

1⁄2 tsp. sugar

1⁄2 tsp. salt

3⁄4 cup tomato ketchup

5 Tbs. tomato paste

1 cup water

Heat oil in large fry pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, sauté until beginning to soften. Add pepper, paprika, cloves, sugar, salt, ketchup, tomato paste and water. Mix well. Bring to simmer, stirring frequently. Cover, lower heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft and sauce has thickened, about 1 hour. Serve warm.


Phony Island Hot Dog Chili

Makes about 12 cups

1 lb. lentils, uncooked

2 Tbs. oil

2 medium onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

4 1⁄2 cups vegetable broth

1 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

4 Tbs. chili powder

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

1⁄4 tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. ground allspice

1⁄2 tsp. ground cardamom

1⁄4 tsp. ground cumin

1⁄4 tsp. paprika

1 bay leaf

6 oz. tomato paste

1 14.5-oz. can of diced tomatoes with liquid

2 Tbs. red wine vinegar

1⁄2 tsp. salt or more

Cook lentils according to package directions. Drain. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a soup pot. Sauté onions and garlic until golden. Add broth, chocolate, chili powder, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, cumin and paprika. Bring to boil. Add lentils, bay leaf, tomato paste, diced tomatoes with liquid and vinegar. Lower heat. Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for an hour. Taste and add salt as needed. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes until the chili has thickened. Remove bay leaf.

This makes a flavorful “Greek-style” chili that works great on top of a vegetarian hot dog (or as an entrée by itself). Serve topped with raw onions and shredded soy or regular cheddar cheese.


Fresh Pickle Relish

Makes 2 cups

6 full sour dill or garlic dill pickles

1⁄2 medium onion

1 jalapeño, seeded (optional)

1 bell pepper, seeded (green preferred)

1 tsp. sugar

1⁄4 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

Finely chop (do not purée) the pickles, onion, jalapeño and bell pepper in food processor. Add sugar, salt and vinegar. Mix well. Cover. Let stand for an hour. Taste and add more vinegar, salt and or sugar as needed.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.