Photos and interview by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)
The Meat Hook—located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn—is at the forefront of the butchering renaissance happening across the country. The brainchild of partners Tom Mylan, Brent Young, and Ben Turley, it’s become a mecca for NYC meatheads looking for anything from blood sausages to lamb necks, plus just about every part of a pig you could fathom.
In addition to offering items that other butcher shops don’t, the Meat Hook also takes old standards and does them better than anyone else. Indeed, one of the best aspects of the team is its full embrace of high-minded sourcing and products on one hand (fennel sausages, charcuterie), and totally trashy eats (beans and franks, Rochester-style white hots) on the other. It is not too good for hot dogs, but it’s hot dogs are too good to ignore—the basic Meat Hook banger is a thing of beauty, as fat as Shaq’s thumb as stuffed with house-butchered beef and pork.
Finding a skilled butcher who loves lowbrow grub is a cause for celebration, since it means you can enjoy creations like “taco dogs” without any fear of mystery meat and nitrates entering your temple. Seeing as its Hot Dog Week, we decided to swing by the shop to grill Turley about tubesteaks, pick up some cheese-stuffed Rapture Dogs, and learn how to make an upgraded bacon-wrapped, pepper-topped hot dog inspired by the street carts of L.A. and San Francisco. Make some on Memorial Day and be king of the barbecue.
Five Burning Hot Dog Questions with the Meat Hook’s Ben Turley
What is the key to a great hot dog?
Hot dog by itself has to be flavorful enough—ours is spicy and salty, so it doesn’t really need anything else; it can just be a hot dog on a bun, or you can use it for adding a bunch of other stuff as well. But it shouldn’t just be a clean slate. It should be something that can hold its own without a bunch of other shit.
What is the best hot dog you’ve ever had?
In the Bay Area there’s the Mexican-style hot dog, which this recipe [see below] is sort of a take on. They’re these bacon-wrapped hot dogs you get from carts when all the bars are emptying out in San Francisco—you get sautéed jalapeños and onions, and a lot of mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise on top of it. When you’re stumbling home, it’s the best thing in the world. If the mayonnaise isn’t dripping all over the place, you’re wasting everyone’s time.
What is the deal with your Rapture Dog?
It’s our cheese-filled hot dog. It has sliced American cheese, a good amount of paprika and garlic, salt, mustard…pretty bold flavors.
How many hot dogs is too many?
After three, I’m going to start being suspicious. Two is a reasonable amount of hot dogs. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that many. We’re around hot dogs all day, so I’m not really jonesing for them. I’m more likely to crave a shrimp cocktail.
What’s the best way to eat a hot dog?
Recipe: San Fran-Inspired Bacon-Wrapped Street Dog
* 1 cheese-filled sausage (such as the Meat Hook’s Rapture Dog, which is filled with American cheese)
* 2 slices of bacon
* 2 jalapenos**
* Small handful of banana peppers
* BBQ sauce
* Brown mustard
* Diced onion
Wrap the bacon around the hot dog—it’s going to come loose, but don’t worry, this hot dog isn’t going to be pretty anyway. Put it in a pan on low heat and cover. After 3 minutes flip the dog over and cover with lid. Continue until bacon is cooked on all sides.
Once the cooking is done, the construction can begin. Grab a potato roll (we prefer Martin’s) and hit it with some mustard. Then drop your bacon-wrapped Rapture Dog into the roll. Onions go on one side, jalapenos on the other, and banana peppers on top with a little bit of a vinegar-based BBQ sauce. Done-zo.
** For roasted jalapenos, place the peppers in a pan and throw them in the oven at about 400 degrees. Once they’re blackened, pull them from the oven, then let them cool. When you want to use them, peel the skin, remove the seeds, and dice finely.
Visit the Meat Hook: 100 Frost St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, (718-349-5033, thebrooklynkitchen.com)