Refrain From Dicing Tomatoes When Topping Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Ask a New Yorker what tops a good hot dog and you're likely to get a short answer: mustard and sauerkraut, maybe some onion. The Chicago-style hot dog, on the other hand, is for those who like a little more complexity. Each of the seven toppings essential to a classic Chicago-style dog deliver a distinct part of the overall taste, somehow managing to encompass savory, fresh, sweet, and tangy all at once. Plus, the way in which those toppings are layered is specific. Fresh tomato, for example, is one of those essential toppings. But resist the urge to dice it, even if that seems like it would make the dog easier to eat. The tomato should be quartered in thick slices that are wedged between the hot dog and the top of the bun. That way, you'll taste the juicy tomato in every bite.

A Chicago-style hot dog is always made with an all-beef frank, preferably from Vienna Beef, which debuted at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. A Vienna Beef dog is redder in color than other hot dogs, which is the inspiration behind their nickname of "Red Hot." The preferred manner to prepare the Vienna Beef dogs, flavored with garlic, paprika, and other seasonings, is to boil them. And the required poppy seed roll? Steam it.

How to drag a Chicago-style hot dog through the garden

Those in the know, who want the full Chicago dog experience, order theirs by requesting it to be "dragged through the garden," a reference to loading it up with the all-vegetable toppings. In addition to fresh tomato wedges, an authentic Chicago-style hot dog layers yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, chopped white onion, pickled sport peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt.

The pickled sport peppers are not easy to find outside of Illinois but can be ordered online. Two small peppers — left whole — are placed on top of the dog as the last step in preparation before the celery salt. Sport peppers have a Scoville heat rating somewhere between a milder jalapeño and a serrano chili, and absolutely cannot be left off an authentic Chicago-style dog. The celery salt is also important to the overall flavor. A blend of common table salt and ground celery seeds or leaves, its impact is subtle but will be missed if left out. And then there's the sweet pickle relish. A true Chicago-style dog sports a neon green pickle relish overdyed with blue food coloring. Although authentic, if you have trouble finding this product or the garish coloring is off-putting to you, there's no reason you shouldn't substitute regular green sweet pickle relish. The flavor will be the same.