Maybe you know it, but if you don’t, it’s time to catch up.
Every time you boil a hot dog, a hairnet-adorned meatpacking plant operator sheds a tear. Save that poor soul from the anguish and cook your hot dogs the correct way: with a grill.
Chef Joseph Rizza, the executive chef of Prime & Provisions, knows how to grill meat, including hot dogs. Follow his advice. Enjoy hot dogs as you’ve never had before.
1) Thoroughly thaw out your hot dog.
Always make sure whatever protein you’re going to cook is at room temperature before it hits the heat. “You should never cook anything frozen. You should always thaw your food in the fridge overnight and then allow it to come to room temperature before putting it on the grill,” he says. That way, they’ll cook evenly throughout. And why are you freezing your hot dogs, anyway? Those things last, like, forever in the fridge.
2) Use a properly preheated charcoal grill.
Are you using a gas or charcoal grill? Rizza’s preference is the latter. “The charcoal method gives grilled food so much more flavor,” he says.
If you are using charcoal, use a chimney starter.
When the coals “are all ashed over, spread the charcoals flat using long tongs and replace the top grate. Let that heat up for a few minutes and then begin to grill,” Rizza says.
If you’re cooking just a few hot dogs, bank the coals to one side of the grill for the greatest cooking efficiency. If you’re cooking a whole bunch, spread the charcoal evenly and consider shaking on a few more if it looks like you’re going to need them.
Using a gas grill? Fine. Preheat it to the highest possible temperature and then, just before putting the dogs on the grill, turn it down to medium heat, he says.
2.5) But, how do you grill hot dogs without a grill?
Oh, boy. Well, do you have a stovetop with at least one working burner? If so, then slap a cast-iron grill pan or regular ol’ cast-iron pan on that working burner and preheat that pan to medium-high. Don’t add oil. Otherwise, you won’t achieve quite the same char-effect you’d otherwise be reaping from the grill.
3) Make a few slits in your dogs before tossing them onto the grill.
“Make sure you make about four to five small slits on your hot dogs with a paring knife before putting them on the grill. This will prevent them from shriveling up,” Rizza says.
Don’t split the hot dog in two down the length. “A lot of places do this to cook faster. I do not recommend this because all it does is dry the hot dogs out,” he says.
4) Make sure it’s evenly charred.
It will take about 2 to 3 minutes to develop grill marks on one side of a hot dog. Once that’s achieved, turn it over and repeat. Then it’s fully cooked. Spend any more than six minutes cooking a hot dog and you’ll be left with something that tastes like an exploded firecracker.
“The amount of char is a matter of preference, but I would suggest not going overboard. Make sure there is an even amount all the way around,” he says. “A good way to tell if a hot dog is hot is when they plump up and you can see the natural juices coming out of them. At this point, they are done.”
One important side notes: If you’re cooking grass-fed beef franks, these doggies have less fat, which means they’ll have less protection against the heat of the flame. Cook grass-fed hot dogs about a minute less per side in order to prevent dreaded dog dry-out.
5) Add butter.
Rizza recommends spreading just a dab of melted butter (he prefers garlic butter) on your hot dogs just before removing them from the grill. “After brushing the dogs with butter, do the same to your hot dog buns and set them on the high rack of your grill for about 20 seconds to warm them up,” he says. Because no one likes cold buns.
6) Choose toppings wisely.
Rizza was born and raised in Chicago, so he has an allegiance to the traditional Chicago-style hot dog: “mustard, white onion, sweet pickle relish, sport peppers, tomatoes, pickle spear, and celery salt. It may seem like a lot, but if you have never had a Chicago-style hot dog, then you are missing out,” he says.
That’s not your thing, or it’s just way too many ingredients stacked on your dog, “just add mustard. The smokiness of the dog gives off enough flavor, and the mustard balances it out perfectly,” he says. You should also try these awesome hot dog recipes.