Ballpark franks may be acceptable for baseball season, but when it comes to the Super Bowl, you need more than pale wieners and lifeless buns to set your party off right.
DJ Paul offered his essential backyard grilling tips earlier this week, but for some next-level expertise, we hit up chef Ian Vest and charcuterie whiz Aurelien Dufour of DBGB to school us on some basics of hot-dog construction and sausage-making.
From fresh chorizo sausages drizzled with basil oil, to Tunisian-inspired links with mint yogurt and cherry tomatoes, these guys have mastered the art of tubular, encased meats. The key to success? Texture, color, and a bit of globe-trotting influence. Here are their hot dog (and sausage) commandments.
1. FRESH, WARM, TOASTY (BREAD, THAT IS)
“Just as with a good sandwich, a dog’s bun is an important aspect of construction. Invest in fresh. At DBGB, our dog goes inside a fresh-baked brioche bun, sliced to order and warmed in the oven. Brioche is a soft, slightly sweet bread that lends a nice buttery flavor, without overpowering the flavors of its toppings. Plus, the airiness of the bread absorbs the juiciness of the sausage. You can also toast it with butter in a pan or on your griddle just to add a little extra je ne sais quoi.”
2. ALL NATURAL, ALL THE WAY
“You really can taste the difference. We use high-quality meats from farmers we know and trust.”
3. PUSH BEYOND PORK
“We love pork links—especially our Beaujolais, filled with bacon that’s been steeped in red wine and port. But we encourage you to explore other links like lamb, turkey, or chicken. Fat equals flavor, so if you can, err on the fattier side of things (read: juicy).”
4. USE DOGS AS A VEHICLE FOR CONDIMENTS
“No matter how delicious your wiener is, let’s face it—the dog is often all about the condiments. Embrace your inner eight year-old self and don’t be afraid to pile on the toppings: sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, stewed onions, hot peppers, pickles, tomatoes, you name it. We especially love Sriracha, which you’ll find in the home fridge of almost any chef.”
5. PICKLED ANYTHING IS GOOD
“For sausages or dogs, it’s important to think about contrasting flavors. The acid and tang from pickled foods cuts through richness.”
6. GO FOR TOPPINGS WITH TEXTURE
“There’s really no right or wrong when it comes to selecting your toppings, but as we do with all of our dishes, encased or not, we approach it as an exercise in balance. There should be crunch; there should be color; there should be sauce; and there should be spice. All of your taste buds should be engaged. On our DBGB dog, we julienne radish for texture and caramelize onions to achieve a bit of sweetness too; friseé adds color, and relish adds spice.”
7. GO GLOBAL FOR INSPIRATION
“Sausage culture is truly international, from the classic French versions, to rustic Italian styles, to Moroccan-inspired merguez. Chef Daniel Boulud makes it a point to try the local variety wherever he travels, and we suggest you do the same.”
For those of you who want to step up your Super Bowl Sunday feast with homemade sausages, follow our GIF tutorial with DBGB charcutier Aurelien Dufour, who’s responsible for making all the sausages, terrines, and pates that pass through Boulud’s restaurant. These next few commandments will help you achieve pro-level link perfection.
8. FILL ‘ER UP!
“There’s no wrong way to stuff a sausage—you are only limited by your imagination. Fill your link with spices, vegetables, fruits, and seeds. Case in point: In Seattle, a local deli has created a sausage stuffed with skittles in honor of Marshawn Lynch’s favorite candy. They call it The Beast Mode.”
9. TASTE BEFORE YOU CASE
:When making sausage at home, be sure to taste test your meat mixture once it’s ground and seasoned before casing—there’s no turning back once the package is sealed. Cook off a small portion in a stovetop pan, and adjust seasoning as needed.”
10. RESPECT THE TECHNIQUE
“To achieve that ‘snap’ that happens when you cut or bite into a sausage, natural casings are the best. But if you have synthetic cased sausage, you can still get there with the following cooking procedure: First poach the link so it’s cooked through. Then place it on a hot griddle, squirt some water on top, and cover it. The sausage will steam and the casing will get tight, creating the ‘snap’ effect. As the water steams away, keep the sausage on the hot griddle and sear it until it turns golden brown.”