For the Hot Dog Sessions, we’ve been pairing up some of our favorite musicians and chefs to to collaborate on limited-edition hot dogs served exclusively at PDT in the month of May. To close out the residency, we teamed up with Andrew Carmellini to create the Rampatron 3000, on the menu May 25-31.
If you’re going to collaborate with someone on a hot dog, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better partner-in-crime than Andrew Carmellini, whose lineup of perpetually packed NYC restaurants includes Lafayette, Bar Primi, and the brand-new Little Park in Tribeca.
While “AC” has deep roots in French and Italian cooking, the menu at The Dutch demonstrates his love of vernacular American foodways, with dishes that look everywhere from Chinatown, to the South, to old-school chophouses for inspiration. The wiener that he and his team conceived for the Hot Dog Sessions is vintage AC: a bacon-wrapped dog that’s deep-fried in the same buttermilk batter that the restaurant uses for its beloved fried chicken, then kicked up with mustard glaze, coleslaw, and kraut with ramps. It’s got some farmers’-market flair and globe-trotting influences (that spicy mustard includes varieties from Japan and Germany), but it still hits all the essential qualities of an all-American dog.
During recipe-testing, we sat down with AC to drink some Little Park double IPA and quiz him on his hot-dog philosophy.
The AC Hot Dog Interview
What’s your bucket-list hot dog experience?
The hot dogs in Reykjavi, Iceland are really good—they’re longer [than American hot dogs] and made with some lamb in the mix, so there’s a little bit more flavor. But hot dogs are kind of like pizza—even bad pizza tastes kind of good. Even the hot dogs at Yankee Stadium are fine.
What about a dirty-water dog on the street corner?
I’ll totally crush that.
Are hot dogs nostalgic for you?
I didn’t grow up with hot dogs so much as sausages, since we’re Polish. In South Cleveland, we’d eat brats, kielbasa, and homemade liverwurst. We weren’t encouraged in my house to eat hot dogs, because those were “bad sausages,” according to my parents. My grandpa would call them “floor sweepings.” But hot dogs are different than brats because they have the snap.
How did the elements of the Rampatron 3000 come together?
In my mind, The Dutch is sort of a great American corner restaurant, so we do all sorts of American soul food and more New American, ingredient-focused stuff—and then we have our fried chicken. So for the hot dog, we wrapped the Crif dog in bacon—because that just makes sense—and then we dipped that in fried-chicken batter and deep-fried it to get a super-crispy crust. We made a sort-of super-mustard sauce that has Dijon mustard, Japanese mustard, and grainy German mustard, plus a little bit of honey—it’s really spicy with a little bit of sweetness. And then, because it’s just so damn good, we used our coleslaw that we serve with our fried chicken that we do for lunch and brunch here—it’s got pickled jalapenos and pickled-jalapeno juice, plus some of our homemade hot sauce. And since it’s springtime, we made some ramp kraut, which is basically fermented ramps with our coleslaw. I’m super happy with the way it came out—it’s got stuff going on, but it still tastes classic and American. There’s sweetness, there’s spiciness, there’s tanginess from the fermented ramps, and there’s smokiness from the bacon.
Do you think we’re going to get shit for putting ramps on a hot dog?
It’s kind of like a chef cliche. But that’s only in a very small circle of people who talk about this type of stuff. I’ve been working with ramps almost all of my professional cooking life. At my second job in New York, at Lespinasse, Greg Kunz was probably the first chef I know who started to use pickled and fresh ramps. He came into the kitchen in 1993 with a jar of pickled ramps a farmer upstate had given him; it was the first time I had seen [a chef] use them, but now everyone uses them. And that’s okay, because they taste really good and they’re usually local, and we should celebrate that. I’ve seen some smugness about ramps from the food-writing community in the past few years, and to me that just seems kind of silly.
We don’t need convincing that Martin’s potato buns are the best, but why’d you choose to use them over another type of bun?
For hamburgers and hot dogs, a soft-roll situation is the only way to go. What we would call a ‘gum crusher,’ which is a roll that’s going to hurt your teeth and squish out all the stuff inside of it—it’s just not the way to go.
GET THIS HOT DOG! The Rampatron 3000 is available May 25-31 at PDT (113 St Marks Pl, 212-614-0386). Reservations are highly recommended.