Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Trip Report: Hot Doug’s Sausage Superstore & Encased Meat Emporium

No trip to Chicago is complete without a pilgrimage to Hot Doug's

The interesting question is: What happens when a culinary school grad decides the world needs a great hot dog stand?

The answer apparently involves a good deal of encased meat magic, various incarnations of duck fat, and the unyielding - even combative - dedication to crafting the magnificently mundane that seems to mark today’s great culinary craftsmen.

And that's apparently good news - as you can tell from the line at Hot Doug's at 10:45am on a weekday: IN THE RAIN!

You should note that the first time my buddy took me to Hot Doug's it was FEB. He picked me up from Chicago O’Hare and drove straight there. It was in the low 20s and snowing . . . and the line was LONGER.

The place is open every day, but always has the air of a county fair. The pumped crowd jamms in . . .

The crew is slammin . . .

And it all boils down to this . . .

From the top left corner working around clockwise, we have:

  • The Sally Vega (homemade corn dog)
  • Duck fat fries
  • Another Sally Vega we really didn’t order
  • The Dog (Chicago-style steamed dog with all the trimmings)
  • The Kira Knightly (fire dog with hot relish & peppers)
  • The Atomic Bomb (spicy pork sausage w/chipotle-honey mustard & cranberry-chipotle cheddar)

Two minutes in:

Seven minutes in:

'Nuff said.

Hot Doug's

3324 North California
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 279-9550

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chicago Burgers!

So after the various frustrations of experimenting with restaurant burgers, my buddy JB’s homemade burgers were a welcome reminder of what we’re really trying to capture. A simple summer Boy’s Night dinner at his place turned out a perfect meal.

JB fired up his grill to flawlessly prepare grass-fed beef burgers with Vermont white cheddar. We toasted some fresh buns. There was some heirloom tomato. Accompaniments included: sautéed baby spinach with shallots and red wine vinegar; baked herbed baby red potatoes; stir-fried Brussels sprouts with chili, garlic, and ginger; & canned domestic beer.

The “secret”? Same as always.

  • Good quality ingredients (local, properly raised, fresh) treated with respect and simply prepared.
  • Great company.
  • A clear summer night on the deck.

What more could we want?