Hot dog! September 20, 2013Posted by Peeps in Cooking, Home, random stuff.
Before you get worried, no this is not a post about how Jarly deals with warm weather. You’re welcome.
A few years ago, my in-laws gave me a copy of Charcuterie for Christmas. Probably one of the few things I’d run into the burning house to rescue. It’s a delightful book on the salting, curing and smoking of meat. Since I got it, we’ve stopped buying commercial bacon and I make my own pastrami. But I’ve only just scratched the surface of what I can do.
There are a few things I have no interest in, some I haven’t gotten around to yet and a couple that just aren’t terribly practical. I mean, I would love to cure and ham and age it for six months or so. But I don’t really have a good place to do that, and even if I did, I would have well over ten pounds of bone-in ham that I would need to do something with.
One of the things that was on my “get to it” list was hot dogs. That’s right, homemade hot dogs.
Now, before you start wondering where I managed to get pig lips and tails and other things that probably go into commercial hot dogs, stop. I didn’t have to get anything even remotely weird. I actually had almost everything I needed on hand.
First step is to grind two and a half pounds of boneless beef short ribs. Which were on sale at our local butcher shop. Lucky me! As an aside, taking something as wonderful as short ribs and running them through the meat grinder was a little rough. But I managed it.
Next add to the ground meat a little Kosher salt and some pink (curing) salt and some water and mix with your hands as completely as you can. Then, in a covered container, it goes into the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. Not too difficult so far, right?
Once you’re ready for the next step, you add the seasonings to the meat. Dry mustard, paprika, ground coriander, white pepper, minced garlic and a little corn syrup. Those get mixed in by hand. You then spread the meat out onto a sheet pan and put it in the freezer for half an hour or so to firm up for the next step. I put a silicone baking sheet down first, just to make life a little easier.
Once the meat is completely chilled and quite firm, it gets run through the grinder again. You want to make sure that the meat is very firm. The second grind is less than fun if the meat is too warm. Trust me. Once you’re finished grinding again, spread the meat out again on the sheet pan and back into the freezer with it. Another half hour or so should be enough.
The next thing, once the meat is cold again, is to run it through your food processor. You want to turn the meat into a paste as quickly as you can so as not to warm the meat up too much. Since our food processor isn’t large, we ran it through in two batches.
Now comes the fun part. Stuffing. I have read online that using the stuffing attachment for a stand mixer is a less than fun job for this recipe. Fortunately, my totally awesome wife gave me a sausage stuffing gizmo a couple years back that I am very happy to have. And just as a hint, to help keep the meat cold during the stuffing process, I had put the hopper for the sausage stuffer in the freezer to make sure that there would be no problems.
Now, there was one thing I was concerned about. We keep natural hog casings in the house for making either Italian sausage or the really yummy pork and leek that my wife discovered. But they’re really too big for making hot dogs. They work, but what I wanted was sheep casings. They are narrower and are prefect for the job. Sadly, the only way I could get any was in large packages. Five pounds or more. Which is way more than I wanted around in case this experiment didn’t work out. So, for the time being, we went with some collagen casings that I came with the grinder that were about the right size.
Once your casings are stuffed, you’re almost done. To finish the job, your hot dogs need some smoke. So, I got some charcoal going on the small smoker and rigged up a coat hanger to hang the hot dogs on while they smoked. I’ll figure out a better system some other time.
Once your hot dogs have reached a temperature of 140 degrees, remove them from the smoker and put them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking. That’s it, you’re done.
We ended up with about a dozen properly sized hot dogs and a few that were a little small. Sample sized.
The verdict? These were really good. Really good. The texture was perfect, and the flavor was incredible. They tasted very similar to Nathan’s hot dogs, we both thought. The collagen casings were far from perfect, but that’s probably the last time we’ll use them. I don’t have a problem now with keeping two kinds of sausage casings in the house.
The only question is, is this now our house hot dog? Probably. It wasn’t a lot of work, mostly waiting. If we can get short ribs at a decent price, I have no problem doing a double batch or two and shoving them in the freezer until we need them. Plus, now that we know this works, we can experiment a little with different cuts of meat.