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I’m seeing a lot of articles lately about “The 50 Best Hot Dogs in America.”  Best, of course, is subjective, but these photos make all of them look pretty damn good. Here is a slideshow to get you salivating.

I don’t eat a lot of hot dogs because even the best ones aren’t what you’d call healthy. We’ve been getting Hebrew National Reduced Fat; they’re not quite as nutritionally reprehensible as some other brands. Grilled over charcoal – because we like to add our own carcinogens – they are pretty tasty.

  • 450px-NYC_Hotdog_cart

When I lived in New York City in a different life, a hot dog from a cart on the street was a great treat. I think they were fifty cents at the time; they now run about $1.75.  There were three acceptable toppings for the dog (which was kept warm in a tub of greasy water): mustard (deli mustard – none of that fancy-schmancy Dijon), sauerkraut, and onion sauce.  It was perfection.

The onion sauce is what New York expats dream about, and what visitors come away craving.  Apparently Sabrett’s bottles it for sale, but why buy that when it’s cheap and easy to make your own? I found a recipe here on the internet and made it the other night. It turned out pretty good. It’s easy to make and good on a lot of things besides hot dogs. You’re going to be grilling hot dogs this summer anyway; make a batch and try it – whether you’re eating Nathan’s, Sabrett’s, or Smart Dogs, it’ll be great.


  • 2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sprinkle of salt

Heat the oil in a wide frying pan. Add the onions and salt and cook slowly over medium heat, turning as needed, until onions start to brown on the edges. If they burn, throw them out and start over. When onions are starting to brown, add the garlic and cook another few minutes (do not brown the garlic).

Meanwhile, combine in a small bowl:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (stir to get lumps out)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste OR 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (like Tabasco, Tapatio, Cholula, etc.)
  • big pinch cinnamon

After adding the garlic to the onions, pour in this liquid mixture. Cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Check now and then and add water if necessary to keep it from sticking or burning. You want to end up with onions in a somewhat thickened sauce – not runny and not gummy.

After 1 hour, it’s ready to eat. This keeps nicely in the refrigerator for a few days, covered, so you can make it ahead of a BBQ. Try it on hot dogs, of course, but also burgers, steak, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes instead of gravy, steamed rice, or wherever a slightly sweet, slightly savory condiment would go well. If you chopped the onions instead of slicing them, this would make a nice dip to go with chips.


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