Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Summer just wouldn’t be summer without hot dogs on the menu!
True, it isn’t a food you see on my blog that much, but I have a bit of a confession. I loooooove hot dogs. I really do. The good kind that are really meaty and snap a bit when you bite into them. Yeah. Those kind. Like the good state fair hot dogs of our youth. On a hot summer day when you have been playing hard and everyone is dirty and sweaty and you smell like sunshine, there are few things that taste as good as a really fantastic hot dog.
About a decade or so ago, when my husband was still in the Navy and were living in San Diego, I flew back to Minnesota to visit family and friends. Mike was deployed and I was keeping myself occupied with a long overdue trip home. I ended up taking a train down to central Illinois to see visit our best friends, and of course, Amtrak took me through Chicago. I had several hours to kill before my next departure and I was way past hungry. I kept seeing signs for authentic ‘Chicago Style’ hotdogs and followed my nose right to a booth. You guys. The man behind the counteract my hot dog in half lengthwise, and then fried it on the flattop! I had NEVER seen that before and thought it was so darn genius, I immediately doubled my order. The cook turns back to me and says, “You want a true Chicago dog?” I hesitated just a moment before reluctantly nodding. I had absolutely no clue what that actually meant, but figured, what the heck. You only live once.
I don’t actually remember all the specifics of what was on my hot dog that day, but the whole dill pickle spear and freshly chopped tomatoes stood out enough that I never forgot it. When he picked up a shaker and dusted my plate just before handing it over, I assumed it was pepper, and was surprised when my nose caught a whiff of the spice.
“Was that celery salt?” I asked.
He grinned. “Yeah.”
I looked at my plate and back up at him. “On my hot dogs?”
Now he looked mildly offended. “Yeah.”
I quickly smiled, not wanting to be a lame and bothersome tourist (too late) and chirped out a thank you. I had no idea at the time, but I was about to eat one of my favorite things ever. Sitting by myself in the corner of a little brick walled nook in the middle of Chicago’s Union Station, I ate-nay, inhaled-my first ever Chicago hotdog. The mix of flavors and textures was outrageously satisfying and I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on this my whole life. It made quite an impression and was neatly filed away in my memory as one of those special food moments we all have sprinkled throughout our lives.Fast forward to present day.
A craving for the fresh taste of that meal led me to an impromptu Chicago hot dog night. Now before you get all huffy about what goes on a traditionally classic Chicago dog, let me first say that everyone has an opinion about that. There doesn’t seem to be any single list of ingredients, although there are obviously a few main commonalities. A pickle spear. Chopped tomatoes instead of ketchup. Diced onion. And of course, celery salt. Some add special sauce, others add spicy mustard. For me, my version only covers the main flavors of my original experience. It is easy to recreate and hits the important points. Simple and so tasty, you won’t believe how you ever lived without it.
The best part? I can eat it here the Midlands of South Carolina. No train ticket needed.
How do YOU like your Chicago Style HotDogs?!
Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Do not-I repeat-please do NOT skip the celery salt. I promise it is worth it.
good bakery buns
dill pickle spears
chopped fresh tomatoes
Assemble your hot dog and sprinkle with the salt. Enjoy!