Consider, if you will, the ingredients in my recipe for perfect hand-crafted hot dogs: fresh beef chuck, fresh pork, fresh garlic, kosher salt, paprika.

Now, please take a moment to review the ingredients in Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs, a New York favorite: beef [unspecified], water, salt, sorbitol, sodium lactate, "natural flavorings" [?], sodium phosphate, hydrolyzed corn protein, paprika, sodium diacetate, sodium ethylhorbate, and of course, sodium nitrate.

Need I go on?

Readers already know my position on the merits of home made sausages. As hot dogs (or Frankfurters if you're feeling extra classy) are the most consumed tube steak in the U.S., isn't it time we took back this American Icon and restored its integrity?

Before we go further, a note about the authenticity of flavor.  There's a certain young lady I know of very discerning taste. In fact, so refined are her food choices that they may counted on one hand. Without even using the thumb. Hot dogs are at the top of her exclusive list.

I'm pleased to share with you that my dogs passed her taste test with flying colors. Also, another good friend, worldly, urbane, a native New Yorker and connoisseur of hot dogs from the far flung corners of the world gave these luscious links the highest marks.

These puppies aren't laden with water and fillers and God knows what part of the cow they classify as "beef." Lips? Lungs? Lard? And what's that Band-Aid pink color all about anyway? 

These meaty treats call for a nice selection of condiments, used sparingly of course, for additional juiciness (because we didn't overdo the fat in the ingredients) as well as flavor boosters. The better the condiment, the better the boost. But you knew that already. 

Allow me to suggest a lovely corn relish, a richly savory ketchup and a peppy cilantro and jalapeno mustard.

How is it done? Oh so easily.

1 1/2 lb. beef chuck for stew
1 lb. beef top chuck
1 lb. country style boneless pork spare ribs, with a nice bit of fat on each
1 1/2 t. kosher salt
1 T. very finely minced garlic
1 T. paprika
natural sausage casings

Cut  all the meat into same size 1" chunks, this makes the grinding so much easier. Grind the meat with the salt and spices two times using the fine cutting disk of your grinder. KitchenAid's food grinder attachment for stand mixers attachment and sausage funnel kit are invaluable here.

In a large bowl, use a spatula to make sure everything is evenly mixed. You want total uniformity of color.

Slide the rinsed casings onto the funnel attachment and fill. An extra pair of hands is handy here to help with uniformity in size.  You control the size of the franks by gently resisting the flow of meat into the casings, making them plumper than if you just let the filling run out into the casing.

Twist the sausage into desired lengths. Grill over low heat so they do not burst.

Do your guests and family deserve anything less? If so, perhaps it's time to rethink your priorities. Just sayin'.

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Written by on August 3, 2011 under ALL RECIPES, Charcuterie, Jams, Jellies, Pickles, Relish, Kitchen Gadgets, Main Dishes, Party foods.

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