When it comes to city rivalries, most people think of sports teams like Bears vs. Packers, Yankees vs. Red Sox or Flyers vs. Penguins. But for food enthusiasts and hot dog lovers everywhere, there is just no middle ground between a classic Chicago style hot dog and a New York City style hot dog.
Most major cities (and some states) now lay claim to having a region’s best hot dog – for us in Maine, we prefer a “Red Snapper.” For the diehard hot dog fans living in the Big Apple or the Second City, they see any variation of their classic recipe as nothing short of a sacrilege.
Obviously, the best way for any thoughtful person to choose a side in this important issue is to try one of each and let your taste buds decide. In our travels across the states, we see a lot of regional food that we just have to try. So without further ado, we present the classic recipes for a Maine Red Snapper hot dog, a New York City style hot dog and a Chicago style hot dog for your enjoyment. May the best dog win!
A Maine Red Snapper-style hot dog is a summertime favorite for Mainers young and old. Bright red in color (from the dye in the casing), these natural casing franks earn their name from the snapping sound the casing makes when you bite into it. And their red color, of course.
Mainers enjoy these dogs in many variations – some prefer grilled while others prefer steamed or boiled. Roasted over a campfire is also a popular variation during the summer. Regardless of their preparation, they are traditionally served in a New England style split-top hot dog bun, which can also be served steamed or lightly buttered and toasted.
Note: We don’t get too picky about our toppings, but you can commonly find our hot dogs topped with ketchup, mustard or relish – or a combination of all three! Chopped onions are a great add-in, as well. We love Farmhouse Ketchup, Ballpark Mustard and Sweet Dill Relish as our go-to hot dog toppers.
A Chicago-style hot dog is also known as a Chicago Dog or a Chicago Red Hot. It’s an all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt.
The method for cooking the hot dog caries depending on the vendor’s preference. Most often they are steamed or water-simmered. Grilling over charcoal is less popular and then referred to as a “char-dog.”
Note: This recipe does not include ketchup. The reason is that there is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is simply unacceptable. In fact, many Chicago hot dog vendors do not even offer ketchup as a condiment!
A New York City-style hot dog is also known as a Dirty Water Dog or a New York Dog. It’s said that New Yorkers eat more hot dogs than any other group in the country. From downtown Manhattan to Coney Island, when you buy your hot dog in the Big Apple, it’s important to remember that it’s all about the toppings and for some, the name synonymous with a New York Dog is Nathans. Nathan’s Famous was founded by a Polish immigrant, Nathan Handwerker, who started his business in 1916 with a small hot dog stand in Coney Island, New York. He sold hot dogs that were manufactured based on a recipe developed by his wife, Ida.
Today, fans of New York style hot dogs insist that only the following will satisfy: A steamed, all-beef hot dog, mustard, sauerkraut and steamed onions on a classic bun.
Note: In case you’re wondering where the name “dirty water dog” comes from, New York street vendors generally store their unsold dogs in warm-water baths, hence the name, “dirty water dog.”
What do you like on your hot dogs? Let us know!