Since we’re gluttons for punishment (and also just, ya know, gluttons in general) we at UrbanMatter have undertaken the grueling process of ranking one of the most prized, cherished, and hotly-contested foods on any good Chicagoan’s menu: the hot dog.
For the uninitiated, a Chicago-style hot dog is comprised of the following: yellow mustard, white onions, so-bright-it’s-almost-neon green relish, a pickle (spears only, please), sport peppers, celery salt, and tomatoes, all atop a beef hot dog snuggled inside a poppyseed bun.
Sounds great just thinkin’ about it, huh?
How Do You Make a Chicago-Style Hot Dog?
What is the Best Way to Cook a Chicago-Style Hot Dog?
While the average Chicagoan is familiar with the condiments of a Chicago-style hot dog, many individuals are unfamiliar with the process of cooking one. To avoid a soggy and unappetizing dog, you should avoid cooking it in the microwave. Grab a pot and fill it with water.
Next, increase the heat on your stove to medium and boil the pot of water. Once the water is boiling, decrease the heat to a low setting and drop the hot dog in the water. Cook it for a total of 5 minutes on the stove.
Once the Chicago hot dog is finished, grab a plate and place a dry paper towel on it. Next, remove the cooked hot dog from the pot and place it on the plate. Prior to popular belief, it’s important to cook or steam a bun to prevent your Chicago hot dog from getting cold while it’s being assembled.
Grab a steamer basket and drop it into the pot and cook the hot dog bun for a total of 2 – 4 minutes. Once the hot dog and bun are cooked, it’s time to assemble the condiments. First, drop the hot dog in the cooked or steamed bun.
Next, add the mustard, neon green relish, diced onions, tomatoes, pickle, sports peppers, and celery salt to the Chicago-style hot dog. The tomato wedges should be added vertically between the hot dog and the bun to prevent it from falling. Also, drop the pickle directly next to the hot dog in the bun.
Prior to making a Chicago hot dog, you will need an all-beef dog and a variety of other ingredients. You will require a poppy seed bun, 1 dash of celery salt, 1 tablespoon of neon green relish, 4 tomato wedges, 1 pickle, 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard, 1 tablespoon of diced onions, and 2 sports peppers.
The average Chicago-style hot dog has a total of 350 to 370 calories per serving. A majority of the calories in this recipe can be attributed to the beef hot dog and bun. A standard beef hot dog is around 180 calories. On the other hand, a traditional poppy seed bun is close to 110 calories per serving. The tomato wedges on a Chicago hot dog feature close to 30 calories while the sports peppers include around 20 calories.
The dill pickle only adds a total of 5 calories to the recipe. While a Chicago-style hot dog is not the healthiest recipe, it is healthier when compared to an average cheeseburger. A standard quarter-pound burger served with a bun, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, and American cheese is 450 calories or higher.
An authentic Chicago-style hot dog is made with an all-beef kosher hot dog. Unlike other types of hot dogs that may include other types of meat and protein, a kosher-style hot dog is only assembled with all-beef. Most Chicago hot dogs are made with a Vienna Beef dog.
Vienna hot dogs are classically seasoned with a variety of spices and are confined in a casing. Reputable restaurants in Chicago will boil or steam the hot dogs prior to serving them. To obtain a burnt flavor, you may also char-broil your Chicago-style hot dogs on a grill.
What Are the Best Types of Pickles to Place in a Chicago Hot Dog?
To achieve a zesty flavor profile, a classic Chicago hot dog should be assembled with a kosher spear. Unless you’re a tourist from a different city or area, you should become familiar with proper pickle edicate. Although a large number of people choose to place a pickle directly next to their hot dog on the plate, this is not the proper way to assemble the dish.
The proper location for a kosher pickle is between the all-beef hot dog and the poppy seed bun. Removing the pickle from the kosher Chicago hot dog will substantially change the flavor profile of the traditional recipe.
Why Can’t You Put Ketchup on a Chicago-Style Hot Dog?
If you have taken a trip to Chicago in the past, you have most likely become familiar with the unspoken rule of never placing ketchup on a Chicago-style hot dog. A standard Chicago hot dog can only be embellished with yellow mustard. While this culinary rule may seem unreasonable, we promise it’s based on logic. The conventional recipe for a Chicago-style hot dog includes relish.
This condiment is used to add a sweet flavor profile to the savory dish. Since a classic Chicago hot dog includes relish, it would be unfathomable to add ketchup to this recipe because it would make the hot dog too sweet. In addition, relish has less grams of sugar when compared to ketchup. Adding ketchup to this dish would merely increase the amount of calories you’re ingesting.
What Kind of Peppers Are Used on a Chicago-Style Hot Dog?
The classic Chicago hot dog is constructed with sports peppers. These green chili peppers are pickled in vinegar to give them a sweet flavor. These peppers will vary in size from an inch to an inch and a half. Sports peppers are usually 5 times more spicy when compared to a jalapeno pepper. These chili peppers are the most prominent flavor on a Chicago hot dog.
Depending on the vinegar and brand, a single sports pepper will vary in spiciness from 10,000 to 20,000 Scoville Heat Units. In some cases, this type of green chili pepper may earn a spot on the scale that is above 20,000 Scoville Heat Units.
These are 24 of the best hot dogs in Chicago, ranked. Where does your favorite Chicago hot dog stand lie?
This Lincoln Park number has been cooking speciality Chicago-style hot dogs since the summer of ’09. And when we say specialty, we mean it – kangaroo dog, anyone?
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A new addition to the Chicago-style hot dog scene, we knew this LA transplant had the potential to end up a favorite. Now here it is, 4th on our list with some of the most creative hot dogs we’ve ever seen.
And now, for the piece de resistance, Gene & Jude’s. Though yes – we do know that this Chicagoland staple is a little bit on the edge when it comes to Chicago city lines, we maintain that Gene & Jude’s is the best Chicago-style hot dog we’ve ever had in our lives. And that’s just that.
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As an avid NPR listener and self-described Snapchat addict, Jessica Hamrick is excited to showcase her love for all things media as an Editor at UrbanMatter. Her short-yet-illustrious academic career was dedicated to finding the intersections between writing and marketing and she’s definitely found it here. In her free time, Jessica can be found hanging out with her dog Indie, watching the Food Network or commiserating with fellow, unfortunate White Sox fans.