Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

July 27, 2010

America's Dog: Chicago Hog Dog Chain takes a Different Angle

Here's another adventure. This journey took me to a place called America's Dog. What's the concept? It's pretty simple. The celebration of the hot dog- America's tasty treat. It features a hot dog as made in the various American cities. The founders went on a road trip and tried how people eat hot dogs-what way, how prepared, and most important, what's on them.

Now in Chicagoland, there's only one rule- no ketchup (at least until you turn ages 10-12)!!! Pretty much everything else is fair game. If you want a tomato based product, slice or dice some tomato or add some salsa. I think ketchup kills the texture of the dog. I tried it as a kid ONCE and never did it again. The Chicago hot dog is simple- tomato, pickle, relish, onion, mustard, onions, sport peppers and celery salt (just a dash). That's just how it is. Most people here may not put all of the above items on each time but most of them do generally appear (most common- mustard, onion, pickle, tomato seem to be the common edit to this dog). Some places will just a hot pepper in place of sports peppers to add more heat.

As it relates to suggestions, pay the extra $.50 and get a jumbo hot dog. It will be worth it. They have 17 different dogs alone including the Chicago Dog (not including the Maxwell St Polish- another treat in itself. Now, I'll get my criticism out of the way first and they are very few. First of all, Coke fans like me won't like the choice of drink (hint-hint). I'd have to say the oddest of dogs to me was the San Francisco Dog (Chili, mustard, ketchup, relish, onion, pickle, tomato, shredded, cheddar cheese and celery salt). This dog seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The Atlanta Dog seems to have some debate. The common choices were cole slaw, chili, mustard and onion. Some, like America's Dog, have ketchup on their Atlanta style. That's a discussion for another day. If in doubt, order the Philly Dog, where you put whatever you want on it.  
I bought two dogs- the Dallas and the Baltimore. The Dallas Dog is basically a chili dog (Chili, onion and shredded cheddar cheese). Its sybling, the Houston Dog, is chili alone. The Baltimore Dog was a bit more of an adventure (Deep fried dog, with melted cheddar and grilled onions). I enjoyed both and the Baltimore was better than I expected. The texture was rock solid. I actually debated on the Baltimore and the Charleston (Cole slaw, chili, onion and mustard). Cole slaw is a southern thing but it works for me. It tastes very good. I regret not taking pictures of my food due to my camera battery deciding to die on me.

If you want to see the entire menu, here it is:

There are four locations in Chicago. I went to the one on Randolph Street (just east of State Street). The location is also on the north entrance of Macy's (Marshall Field building). So that location is easy to get to if you're walking downtown in Chicago. DO NOT TRY TO DRIVE THERE because there is no parking lot (free lot anyway). Out-of-towners, if you go to Navy Pier, they have a location there as well. There are plenty of other items to try as well (beefs, burgers, etc). The french fries were very appealing as well. Notice how my bag mentions being "voted #1 hot dog" but I am unsure who gave this honor. Nonetheless, this is a worthy stop and makes their own mark in a very well-saturated hot dog market. They found a niche and running with it. You may follow them on twitter- @AmericasDog.

July 15, 2010

The Grill as a Chafing Dish

The grill as a chafing dish? Yes!! It can be done. I did it and here how it worked.

This year on July 4th, I had a "ah-ha" moment. This isn't something "innovative" but something came over me to try. I decided to use the grills as chafing dishes. I guess part of it is that it was over 90 degrees that day and didn't want to heat the house up. So then, we can keep the food (ok, meat) warm by using the grills. As you can see in the picture above, most of the coals (in the coal boxes) are ash. They were still warm. I kept the fire going by adding a few more coals to keep between 150-175 degrees. The goal isn't so much to cook but keep warm or reheat. All the meat has been cooked already. I control the heat by opening and closing the openings on the top of the grill (just as you would when you grill but lower heat). Low & slow masters can do this in their sleep. 


If you use a kettle grill, I would have you try the following. First, use a pan like the one above. Second, keep the meat covered (I did the same with the dual-zone grill). How do you control the heat? In the kettle grill, move to coal boxes directly under the pan (direct heat) early in the warming process (to reheat). The time to reheat depends on how hot your fire is, how much meat you desire to warm up, and the temperature of the meat (directly out of the fridge or being at room temperature). This warming process can take at least 15-20 minutes but could take more. Once the meat is warmed to your liking, move the coal boxes towards the edge of the grill (indirect heat). Above are chicken legs, covered with foil.

Now if you have a grill like the one above, you can easily guage the temperature. This is a two zone grill. If you look closely, you'll notice the guages are reading between 225-250 degree mark. On the left side, I had the grill temperature at 300 at its highest point as I was still cooking some food. Ideally, if I want to "chaf", the temperature should stay under 175 degrees (200 at the very most).

Now for the fun part- the meat. My uncle made some good stuff- rib tips, hot links, and chicken wings.

More links, rib tips- ribs are a given (which is why I didn't add them). One day, I put out a rib tip post should time allow.