Irma S. Rombauer, one of the original authors of the Joy of Cooking, once wrote, “Eternity is two people and a ham.” To be honest, that sounds more like heaven to me. My eternity this week could be more aptly described as “Two people and a pack of hot dogs.”
After an early summer barbecue, the generosity of our friends left the freezer full of uneaten hotdogs and buns (because when push comes to shove, everybody wants hamburgers and no one wants hot dogs). As more exciting things—like black bean soup, grass-fed stew meat, and sweet potato curry—started vying for precious freezer space, I stared to resent the Wonder Bread-like buns and processed meat (quite literally) hogging all the frosty real estate. It was getting to the point where just about every time we opened the freezer, something would fall out. In a fit of frustration, we yanked the buns and dogs and just decided to use them up.
Morning after morning, we toasted the buns and slathered them with peanut butter and jam. When we got sick of that, we were forced to get creative. One night, Tony made what we later termed “hot dog strata.” He sautéed two diced hot dogs, cooked a ton of less-than-perky produce in the drippings, and layered it all with stale bread, torn-up hot dog buns, cheese, herbs, and the requisite egg mixture. It was delicious!
The next night, inspired by Tony’s use of hot dogs as porky flavoring (in place of bacon or sausage), I diced up two hot dogs and started sautéing them. Next I added onions, garlic, a little jalapeno, sliced cabbage, a splash of white wine, a few squirts of spicy brown mustard, and a dash of cider vinegar, and cooked it all until the cabbage was crisp-tender. This simple side dish tasted like a classy ballpark hot dog, minus the ketchup and the bun. And it, too, was incredibly tasty—spicy, acidic, crunchy, and satisfying.
By Thursday, we were on a roll. So, when we decided to make summer vegetable chowder, I didn’t even flinch when Tony sliced up the remaining four dogs and divided them between two Dutch ovens (we were making a lot of soup…which we now had room for in the freezer!). With the hot dogs, we cooked corn, summer squash, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and topped the pots off with a mixture of cow and goat milk, and added a couple bay leaves and loads of cayenne pepper. The chowder was rich, creamy, spicy, and complex—you wouldn’t even know there were hot dogs in there!
I am not about to start using hot dogs in place of lovely local bacon or humanely raised Italian sausage. But when, inevitably, you have hot dogs left over from one event or another, you don’t have to settle for eating hot dogs everyday for a week, or possibly worse, throwing them out. After all, for me, the only thing more tragic than a poorly treated pigs is wasting the products they gave their lives to make.
What a very real (and hilarious) story, Sharon. I know from experience that this is how great recipes are born. I’ve slaved in the kitchen for days developing the “perfect recipe.” But I’m most proud of the ones that comes from opening the fridge and vowing to make something without going to the store.
Oh, and I made your soup, and it was delicious–pleasantly porky, milk and corn sweet. Next time I’ve got a package of hotdogs languishing in the freezer, I know what I’m doing, although I may try the strata next time.
Not gonna lie, Sharon. I was pretty skeptical about this recipe – but…it…was…delicious! I couldn’t get enough. Love the hotdogs and I can’t believe how rich this chowder is with only milk. Like Mom said, it’s porky, corny and sweet. I will definitely be making this again!
I think hot dogs and bologna are the under-appreciated pork products. I make a ‘Cowboy Spaghetti’ that has them sauteed, added to chili, and poured over spaghetti noodles with a dollop of sour cream. And it’s actually divine. Hilarious story, Sharon. And I’m loving just how depression-era savvy you and Tony are. You use and reuse everything you can, and it’s refreshing to see.
What a cute story! I agree-it’s better to eat the poorly-treated pigs than throw them out. This looks delicious!
Sharon, your timing is perfect! We just had a big party on Sunday and of course, we are also left with hot dogs and buns taking up space in our freezer. I even have some leftover corn on the cob. This chowder is in my very near future!
SMITH BITES says
I have a weakness for hot dogs but shhhhhh – don’t tell anyone because I preach all the time about processed foods . . . hmmmm – maybe I shouldn’t preach??? LOL! And guess what? I HAVE HOT DOGS IN MY FRIDGE – YAY!!! Am totally making ALL those recipes; and yep, mom is right – be most proud of those recipes born from ‘have to’ – those are the best. Maybe she’ll include it in her next book?
dear Elevated Dog~dazed,
Another reason to love you guyz!!
You’re the best.
My kind of cookin’
This cracked me up! You really had to get innovative! It reminded me of a week when my husband and I tried to eat a pound of dried beans…whoa, that was a long week.
All your comments are making me laugh so hard! We love you guys.
Torrie @ a place to share... says
I love this story and all of the comments above simply because it’s REAL. My mom used to throw sliced/sauteed hot dogs in a variety of things- with scrambled eggs for breakfast, mac & cheese (okay, let’s be totally real… Kraft mac & cheese:), quesadillas, etc. So, when we have leftover hot dogs, naturally, I do the same – and my kids love it.
One time I saw Giada make her mom’s- “Veronica’s potato salad” recipe, which included hot dogs. I thought it was cool that she would include this on television. When I went to print the recipe out (I used to print ALL of her recipes out!), I noticed that she was getting reamed by the viewers for sharing this mediocre, unsophisticated recipe.
Thank you for sharing these great ideas!
You are such a hoot Sharon. Shelly would never understand, but I love the ideas. We love hot dogs,but never “experimented” this much.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We just picked up our CSA package and it had carrots and corn…we have a package of hot dogs…so this wonderful chowder will be dinner tomorrow!!
Tickled Red says
Hahaha… brilliant, just brilliant! I guess when there’s no other option & you’ve eaten the same thing over and over until your ears about to pop those creative juices kick in. I never even thought of stretching my hot dogs into chowder. You all are so creative 🙂
Great story! So cool to hear that others make do with what’s on hand too. And how fun is it to experiment?
Clever, clever girl you are! Everything sounded delicious! “Waste not, want not” I always say! Can’t wait to put some of your great ideas to good use, I’ve got some lonely hot dogs in the fridge at this moment!
I love it – way to use up your hot dogs and buns so creatively! The strata sounds great too 🙂
Even though it is hot and humid here in Minnesota – I have the soup on the stove! I made it with my own goat’s milk. I saw your post on goat meat – can’t bring myself to eat my own goats – we bottle raise so, I still get a little attached but the milk is great for yogurt, cheese, drinking and soup!
I think your family could use some Nigerian milking goats like we raise – http://www.wrenhillfarm.com – we deliver! They would love Bucks County.
Necessity is the mother of invention right…even if self imposed…works wonders in the kitchen…love it. Sharon you write so well too!