Try A Hot Dog Salad For A Fresh Twist On A Classic

Regional hot dogs are divisive. From Detroit's "chili" covered Coney Islands to Seattle's cream cheese-and-jalapeño franks, everyone thinks their municipality's hot dog variation stands above the rest. But likely no hot dog is more prone to provoking rancor than the beloved Chicago dog. Wholly unlike any other city's creation, Chicago dogs are a carnival of flavors, textures, and temperatures. An all-beef, skin-on frank sits in a sweet steamed bun under a mountain of bright yellow mustard, a whole pickle spear, sweet neon green relish, spicy raw onions, tangy sport peppers, vibrant tomato slices, and a crucial dusting of celery salt. To some, it's beautiful; to others, it's a mess.

If you're in the latter camp, maybe you just need to reframe your thinking. In Chicago hot dog stand vernacular, when someone orders a dog with everything, the order taker says it is to be "dragged through the garden." Indeed, whereas some specialty hot dogs eschew the fresh in favor of meat sauces and shredded cheese, a Chicago hot dog is strewn with enough crunchy vegetables and tangy sauces that it could make for a nice salad. In fact, it does.

Hot dog salad is just what it sounds like: All the typical toppings of a frank — Chicago or otherwise — served atop a bed of greens rather than in a bun. With so much overlap in the Venn diagram of a Chicago dog and a salad, the pairing is natural, but it isn't the only path forward.

Make it your way

If you want to make a Chicago hot dog salad, start with the dog. Vienna beef is the preferred brand in the Windy City, but any all-beef, skin-on hot dog will work. Traditionally these are steamed, but you can boil or even grill them if you like a bit of char. The base should be an innocuous green, such as iceberg or romaine, as it's decidedly not the star of the show. The tomatoes, onions, sport peppers, and pickle can be diced to make the salad more fork-friendly. The yellow mustard, relish, and celery salt can be incorporated into the dressing, adding typical piquant and sweet notes when emulsified with a bit of neutral oil, like canola. Voila, it's not a "salad on a hot dog" but rather a delicious inversion.

Don't feel beholden to the above though. Hot dogs and other sausages atop salad are not outside the norm. Maybe you take your hot dog with a bit of spicy brown mustard and sauerkraut. Try this German-leaning combination above a bed of thinly shaved red cabbage along with some slices of boiled fingerling potatoes or crushed pretzel crumbs with a dressing of spicy mustard and oil emulsified with mayonnaise.

Or let your tastes run free without being beholden to making your salad taste like a low-carb version of a hot dog. Pick a base of greens and a medley of toppings that suit, whip up a dressing that fits, and cook the frank to your liking.