Red snapper hotdogs: No, they’re not made with red snapper, the fish. The snapper part comes from using natural casings on these sausages, which gives the links their distinct snappiness. Red? Because they contain food coloring. Why? Because this is America. Nothing says U.S.A. like taking a perfectly good sausage and dying it red just because. While I tend to shy away from food that is neon red at the grocery store, these red snapper hot dogs were just too fun to not make. Not to mention that they’re better tasting than anything you’ll find next to the ballpark franks.
You create the distinct hot dog texture by puréeing the meat and fat, which takes some effort. But once you know how to make hot dogs, you can also make mortadella, brats, bologna, etc. The ingredients are straightforward, probably nothing you don't have in your pantry. The red dye? Well, that is just there to confuse everyone at the cookout. If you have fussy kids (or friends), this is a great way to trick them into eating good food by making it look like trash food.
Hot dogs are a little tricker to make than your typical fresh sausage. The most important part is to purée the meat and fat without smearing the fat. Keeping the meat and fat cold is imperative, as the friction from the multiple grinds, mixing, and puréeing will warm up the fat. Chill the grinder head, grind the meat into a bowl set over ice, and use a freezer to cool the meat and fat before grinding and puréeing. If the fat softens and smears while you're processing, the emulsion will break and you end up with links that are greasy, crumbly, and messy. Factor in the red dye and it’ll look like a crime scene.
- 3 ½ lbs. ground venison
- 2 ½ lbs. pork fat
- 2 tbsp. + 2 tsp. salt
- 1 ½ tsp. Instacure #1
- 1 pint ice water
- 1 tbsp. red food coloring (double if you want nuclear red)
- 3 tbsp. + 1 tsp. mustard powder
- 2 tbsp. paprika
- 1 tbsp. white pepper, ground
- 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. garlic powder
- Pork or sheep casings
Also works with
Trim and cut the meat and fat into cubes small enough to fall into the grinder neck without any force. Chill the meat and fat in a freezer before grinding—you want it almost frozen. Grind the meat and fat through a fine plate. Mix with salt, Instacure #1, ice water, and dye. Cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Spread the meat mixture on a sheet pan or shallow container and partially freeze (30 to 90 minutes depending on your freezer and amount of meat) until the meat mixture is stiff. Grind it through a fine plate again.
Spread meat mixture on a sheet pan or shallow container again and partially freeze for 30 to 90 minutes or until the mixture is stiff. Use this time to flush and soak the casing in tepid water.
Using a powerful food processor or blender, purée the meat mixture for 1 to 2 minutes. Work in batches if your processor can’t keep up. Ensure that the meat stays as cold as possible: if the fat starts to melt, the emulsion will break and the hot dogs will have a terrible texture.
Using a sausage stuffer, stuff the puréed meat mixture into sheep or small pork casings. Twist off into links of your desired length. Prick with a sterilized sausage pricker.
Smoke at 185°F for about 90 minutes until internal temperature hits 140°F. Pay close attention to the smoker temperature—if the hot dogs get too hot, the fat will render out of them. Submerge them in an ice bath to cool and pat dry before putting them up for cold storage. If you don’t have a smoker, you can omit the smoke and poach the links in simmering water at 185°F for 18 to 25 minutes until the internal temp reaches 140°F. Alternately, you can sous vide the links at 140°F for 45 to 60 minutes. Whatever method you use, be sure to chill them in an ice bath after reaching the target temperature.
Warm the red snapper hotdogs to serve however you want. Grill, pan sear, fry, or broil to get the casing crisp before topping them off with your favorite fixins’.