Hot dogs are sold completely cooked, which means it's OK to eat the hot dog without reheating it. However, warming it up will give it the extra oomph it needs. The cooking procedure is your choice, as anything goes when it comes to this fork-free meal. The most common techniques are to grill, boil or steam it in water or beer. Read the package directions for cooking time. The secret to a juicy dog is to never puncture the casing during cooking -- the flavor will leak out. If you like your dog less juicy, cut it in half lengthwise before placing it on the grill.
The wonderful thing about hot dogs is that you can perk them up with a variety of options. Traditional toppings include mustard, ketchup, onions, mayonnaise, relish, chili, sauerkraut and shredded or sliced cheese. When using sliced cheese, place the cheese as the first layer in the bun before adding the hot dog and other tiers of toppings.
If you want to get creative with your hot dog, offer your guests regionally inspired versions. The Chicago-style hot dog, also called "garden on a bun," is boiled, served on a poppyseed bun and topped with yellow mustard, green pickle relish, onion, sport peppers, tomato slices, a pickle spear and sprinkled with celery salt. Note: Serving this particular version with ketchup is considered a sin and should never be attempted.
In the Southwest the Sonoran hot dog is all the rage. These bacon-wrapped dogs make their home in a soft Mexican roll and are slathered with various toppings, which often include pinto beans, chopped tomatoes, onions, cheese, mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and jalapeños. Roasted chilies and green onions are frequently served on the side.
Southern states serve coleslaw-coated hot dogs, but another variation is chili-slaw (coleslaw, mustard, raw onion and minced all-meat chili). Chili dogs, particularly popular in the Midwest, are also found coast to coast. Simply top the dog with mustard, meat chili, diced onions and shredded cheddar cheese.
Since the little ones usually aren't big enough to coordinate the hot dog and bun trick, cut the wiener into bite-size pieces or serve the classic pigs in a blanket: Cut the hot dog in half, roll up the individual pieces in crescent rolls and bake until the dough is cooked through.
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