You’d be hard pressed to find a more iconic food for watching fireworks and celebrating Independence Day than a hot dog fresh off the barbecue. Toppings selection is very personal, but I’m fond of the Chicago style ingredients—“dragged through the garden,” as they say in the Windy City. The ingredients are extensive but worth it.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans consume 150 million hot dogs on the Fourth of July alone. But for those of you, like me, who don’t usually buy meat from the store, try making a wild game hot dogs this year for a richer grilling experience.
It’s best to use natural casings for any hot dog or sausage, especially if you want the distinctive “snap.” Most commercially available hot dog casings are synthetic, but sheep intestines pretty closely match the hot dog diameter you’re used to.
12+ Hot Dogs
Time to make
2 1/2 lb. wild hog meat, roughly chopped
12 oz. pork fatback, roughly chopped
2 tbsp. kosher salt
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp. smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 cup ice
Fresh, natural casing (sheep for thinner-diameter sausages, pig for thicker)
12 hot dog buns
Sweet pickle relish
Diced sweet onion
Kosher dill pickle
Pickled sport peppers
Also works with
Meat grinder, sausage stuffer, pot, grill or smoker
- Before grinding, ensure the meat and fat are very cold. Send the meat through the grinder using a large plate, and then a second time using a fine die. Pause in between grinding to chill the meat if needed to avoid smearing. After the second round of grinding, cool the meat in the freezer.
- Transfer the meat to a food processor or mixer and add the spices and ice. Pulse or mix until thoroughly emulsified. The mixture should turn into a ball of tacky paste.
- If the casings are dried, soak them in freshwater to soften for about 30 minutes before stuffing. While the intestines soak, set up your sausage stuffer. Try lubricating the feeding tube and inner cannister by sprinkling it with cold water so the meat won’t stick. Thread the casing onto the stuffing tube and tie a knot at the end.
- Evenly stuff the sausage into the casing. As you go, use a needle to prick a small hole in any air bubbles. Once all the sausage is inside the casing, begin to pinch off links in roughly 6-inch increments: starting with the first one, twisting, and then moving 6 inches down the line. Continue pinching and twisting off every other link so as not to undo the previous link.
- To cook, you can gently poach the links in simmering water, grill over high heat, or smoke the hot dogs at 225 degrees until they’re cooked through to an internal temperature of 155 degrees. If you plan to grill or smoke, the texture will improve if allowed to rest for a day or two in the refrigerator.
- Before serving, steam the buns with water, baste the top sides with butter or oil and sprinkle with poppyseeds to coat. Wrap the bread inside parchment paper and bake for a few minutes until soft, or set inside of a microwave for 30-60 seconds.
- Serve the hot dogs inside of the poppyseed buns layered with all of the suggested toppings.