There are plenty of ways of serving up a hot dog, yet the Chicago hot dog has to be the best. If you have doubts, review the statistics. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Chicago’s O’hare International Airport serves six times more hot dogs than Los Angeles International Airport and New York’s LaGuardia Airport, combined. That’s 725,000 more hot dogs per year! That fact alone proves that people traveling to, or through Chicago are seeking out the great Chicago dog.
Considered a smorgasbord on bread, this sandwich is a source for all the ingredients of the major food groups.
Before attempting to build your own, one key issue must be understood. There are strict rules you must abide by for a hot dog to be considered a true Chicago dog. These rules govern the ingredients, their preparation and the exact order in which the dog is to be “dressed”. Any deviance from these rules is strictly frowned upon and is cause for treason charges in Chicago.
The Dog An all beef hot dog with a natural beef casing is the standard. Vienna Beef’s hot dog is a Chicago institution when it comes to hot dogs. It’s the “snap” from the casing that is essential to the perfect Chicago dog.
A tip for travelers: Never buy a hot dog in Chicago if the Vienna Beef logo isn’t proudly displayed somewhere within the establishment.
The Bun Like many signature sandwiches, bread is a key ingredient. The same holds true for a Chicago Dog. Only a poppy seed bun is considered correct. S. Rosen’s Bakery is the most widely used bun of all top Chicago hot dog stands.
Yellow Mustard Fancy pants mustards are a blatant insult to this blue-collar, working man’s sandwich. Standard yellow mustard only.
Tomatoes Fresh tomatoes are best. Although tomato wedges are traditional, many hot dog stands serve them diced. If dicing them, clean out the pulp and use only the meat before doing any chopping.
Sweet Pickle Relish Although Chicago relish is a bright neon green color, any sweet pickle relish will work.
Sweet onion, chopped Nothing fancy here. Vidalia or White Spanish are both good choices.
Sport Peppers These are small green Serrano peppers that have been pickled. With a moderate heat level, any small moderately hot pepper can be substituted.
Pickle Spear Kosher pickle spears are most common, but many Chicago hot dog stands use a newer, crunchier style pickle. Occasionally, a cucumber spear is used.
Ketchup A great condiment for your French fries, but never on a Chicago hot dog. Don’t embarrass yourself by asking for it.
Assembling the Chicago hot dog
The ingredients are key to a great Chicago hot dog as is the method of putting it all together.
The preferred method of cooking a Chicago hot dog is steamed or grilled.
The buns should also be opened up and steamed.
Place the cooked hot dog on a steamed bun.
Squirt the mustard on one side of the hot dog.
Spread the relish on the opposite side of the mustard.
Evenly distribute the onions on top of the mustard
Lay the tomato slices on top of the relish. Some hot dog stands remove the seed section of the tomato slices for a less messy dog. Either way is proper.
Lay the kosher pickle spear on top of the dog.
Lay the sport peppers next to the pickle spear.
Sprinkle the entire thing with just a touch of celery salt, not too much.
Put the ketchup back in the fridge…you won’t be needing it.