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A&E >  Food

In the Kitchen with Ricky: Wrapped in bacon and ready a jalapeño, the LA Dog is a good way to mark National Hot Dog Month

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Can you believe it’s going to be July in a couple of days? Summer is officially here, and it’s time to get out and enjoy this sunshine that we’ve so eagerly been awaiting.

If you’re anything like me, I enjoy spending time out at the grill. Whether it’s a long project like a pork butt or brisket, or a short one like burgers and dogs, there’s something about cooking over an open flame that just feels correct to me.

July is filled with national food days and gets plenty of national food month titles, but this week we’re going to celebrate National Hot Dog Month. It’s a perfect one to focus on, especially with Fourth of July literally right around the corner.

Hot dogs tend to be an easy preparation that bring back memories of childhood pool days and afternoons at the ballpark, at least for me. In today’s hot dog preparation, I’m choosing to elevate it a bit, after all, you didn’t think I was just going to have you cook up a hot dog for this week’s “In the Kitchen with Ricky” submission, did you?

Many of our country’s larger cities have developed certain hot dog preparations to pay homage to the great American treasure (even though we clearly adapted it from German immigrants). One of my favorites is the Chicago Dog, consisting of an all-beef frank in a poppyseed bun and topped with mustard, pickled peppers and veggies. Another favorite is the Seattle Dog, which is topped with cream cheese and caramelized onions. But my number one, when it comes to city-specific hot dog creations, is the LA Dog.

The LA Dog is a bacon-wrapped hot dog and it takes inspiration from the Danger Dog, which originated in Tijuana, Mexico. From there, it is topped with sautéed onions and bell peppers and served with a grilled jalapeño pepper, as well as ketchup, mustard and even mayonnaise, if you choose. These hot dogs are most often prepared and served from street vendors who set up carts – sometimes it’s really a shopping cart with a sheet pan as a griddle, heated by a Sterno heat source – outside of bars, clubs and sporting events. The smell of griddled onions and sizzling bacon waft through the streets. I myself have been known to partake in the consumption of this street food while hopping around in the downtown nightlife.

Not all hot dogs are created equal. I highly recommend choosing quality, especially when it comes to this preparation. I chose to use Hempler’s all beef franks, as I consider them a local company (Ferndale, Washington) and I’ve fallen in love with their fresh and cured quality meats while living in Spokane. Some other recommendations are Nimen Ranch, Hebrew National and Trader Joe’s. Because of the unequal packing sizes of higher-quality hot dogs, the amount this recipe can make will vary a bit, but I try to provide the proper amounts for 1 pound of franks.

LA Dogs1-pound pack of hot dogs.

1 pack of thinly sliced bacon, or enough to wrap each hot dog with 1 piece of bacon

1 tablespoon neutral oil

½ of a large onion, peeled and sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

Salt and pepper

4-6 jalapeño peppers, or enough for a half or whole jalapeño per hot dog

Hot dog buns

Tightly wrap each hot dog with one slice of bacon, trying to get each end on the same side of the hot dog. Set aside.

Turn your grill or griddle to medium heat or preheat your barbecue grill.

Place jalapeños on the grill, cooking until charred on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.

Over medium heat, add the oil to a medium heavy- bottom skillet.

When the oil is hot, add onion and bell peppers.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly caramelize .

Once softened and caramelized, remove from pan and set aside.

Place hot dogs over medium high heat until brown and crisp and bacon has rendered its fat. It should take about 8 minutes to ensure the bacon is crisp on all sides of the hot dog and that the frank is heated through.

Remove hot dogs, and toast the buns.

Assemble and top each dog with onion and pepper mixture.

If you’d like, serve with ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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