Cooking at Home with Dieselboy

The food-loving DJ flexes his modernist-cooking skills to create the Destroyer Dog.

  • All photos by Liz Barclay
  • Cooking starts with whiskey at Chez Dieselboy.
  • You only need to weigh your aged cheddar if you're making a modernist cheese sauce...
  • ...with sodium citrate. Damian makes cooking hot dogs looks like cooking bricks.
  • Lager for the dogs.
  • The (home) kitchen stadium.
  • Damian uses baking soda to speed up the caramelization process on his onions.
  • If the cookbooks on the counter are anything to go by, the man doesn't play around.
  • Miso for an extra hit of umami.
  • The sous-vide bag, almost ready to roll.
  • With a little Worcestershire...
  • ...and more beer.
  • Don't try this at home: Huffing your sous-vide bag to get the air out.
  • The secret ingredient: Mexican coke for the onions.
  • Benton's bacon bits > your bacon bits.
  • These Coca-Cola onions are straight crack.
  • Kicking the potato sticks up a notch with some hickory smoke powder.
  • Warm those buns.
  • The vultures begin to congregate.
  • So far so good.
  • Condiment 1: Cheese sauce.
  • Condiment 2: Hot pepper relish.
  • Condiments 3-5: Coca-cola onions, bacon bits, and potato sticks.
  • destroyerdog
  • Compliments to the chef.
  • More dogs in progress.
  • The moment of truth.
  • Eating hot dogs is fun.
  • Fully focused, man.
  • You need real dogs at a hot dog party.
  • 'Cause real dogs love hot dogs.
  • He earned it.
  • More dogs!
  • High fives.
  • Game. Set. Match: Dieselboy.

Welcome to Cooking at Home With…, an ongoing series where we go behind-the-scenes with some of our favorite personalities to see how they get busy in their own kitchens. This week, we head to the Williamsburg apartment of Dieselboy, a veteran DJ and FWF contributorto make his trademark Destroyer Dogs.

Name: Dieselboy, a.k.a. Damian Higgins
Hometown: Assorted Small Towns Of America™
Current home: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

How do you define your profession?
I wear a few hats—DJ, producer, record label owner, graphic designer. I spend a lot of time on the road traveling and playing shows. In my spare time, I like to write about food for First We Feast.

How often do you cook at home?
Not as much as I should. I usually make breakfast every day, and then occasionally make lunch and/or dinner. Mostly this is due to the fact that NYC fucking rules when it comes to great restaurants and I am a slave to convenience.

Since you have a name for your hot dogs and there’s sodium citrate on the counter, it seems like there’s probably a story behind this dish. What’s the deal?
Today I wanted to show you what goes into making what I feel is an “ultimate version” of a hot dog. I am a lifelong hot dog fanatic. I learned to boil Oscar Meyer weiners back when I was around 7 years old and never looked back. Over the years, I have eaten at a myriad of hot dog establishments, hot dog carts, and backyard cookouts. I’ve done my due diligence.

Last summer, I was tasked with cooking a Fourth of July dish for some big-deal food folks like Kate Krader of Food & Wine, Alex Stupak and Lauren Resler of Empellón, Jim Meehan of PDT, and others. I wanted to do my typical style of taking a classic dish and putting my updated spin on it. Being that it was Independence Day, I went with hot dogs. The end result was what I dubbed my “Destroyer Dog,” and the feedback was unanimous—it killed. That began a year-long journey to convince Jim Meehan to put this hot dog on the menu at PDT. Sad to say my efforts have not achieved the desired goal. Still, I thought it would be cool to show others how to achieve hot dog nirvana.

Okay, this is no joke. Can you break down the elements of the Destroyer Dog?
First, let’s start with the actual hot dog. I like to use dogs from my local butcher, The Meat Hook. They have a nice smoky taste, substantial heft, and they’re free of filler. If I am stuck with supermarket dogs, I usually lean towards Boar’s Head deli franks or Nathan’s Dinner Franks. Though they populated my childhood, I steer clear of Oscar Meyer and Ball Park—too many extraneous ingredients. For buns, I try to find Martin’s potato hot dog buns, which are soft, chewy, and delicious. In a pinch, any supermarket white bread-bun will work. I don’t fuck with big, thick buns. They tend to get in the way and overwhelm the hot dog.

On the Destroyer Dog, the basic condiments are as follows: Coca-Cola onion jam, some sort of pickled peppers, a sharp cheddar cheese, diced super-smoky bacon, and crushed potato chips. The only thing you can’t really change is the Coca-Cola onion jam—it provides a complex sweetness that really pulls this thing together. I use it in lieu of Heinz ketchup (the one and only true ketchup, BTW). If you want to toast the buns (which I usually baste with bacon fat or butter, or a combination of both), that is on you. A toasted bun is awesome, but if it falls apart because you had to spread it open to toast it, then that’s a fail. You want the bun to hold together otherwise you are knife-and-forking it. Not ideal. The concept behind this hot dog is essentially an assault on your palate. You are getting sweetness, tang, smoke, spice, umami, salt, meatiness, and so on. You are getting crunch and chew and everything in between. It really covers all of the bases.

What is on your cooking playlist?
I tend towards mellow and eclectic. Anything from Autolux, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and Silversun Pickups to Chicago, Toro y Moi, Fink, and so on. Once dinner is wrapping up and the drinks have been flowing, I might escalate to anything from disco to Black Keys to trap. Something with a bit of fun and energy to it.

Imagine your dream dinner party. Who are the guests?
The best dinner parties are with close friends and family, or fun/creative people that can bring bad-ass conversation skills to the table. There is no dream lineup of people.

Do you have a go-to drink with your meal?
I keep it simple—wine and whiskey.

Do you have a favorite cookbook?
Modernist Cuisine at Home has been a big source of inspiration. I also use The Best New Recipe for starting points of basic dishes.

Imagine you’re hosting a dinner party. Guests are lingering. How do you get them out?
I never chase people out of my place. I love dinner parties and hosting friends, so it isn’t an uncommon occurence to have people crashing on my couch at 3am.

Next page: How to make the Destroyer Dog, including instructions for Dieselboy’s signature Coca-Cola onion jam, a.k.a. crack jam.

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  • khal

    Damn that looks amazing

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