OK, I was a little bummed at the Bears losing the Super Bowl, but at least I had a fun party.
When I was planning the party, I wanted to serve something that paid homage to my home town, which is Waukegan, Illinois, an hour north of Chicago -- close enough to say I'm from Chicago. Anyway, with Uno's having a franchise here (and Uno's is not the best Chicago-style pizza, but that's another subject), I couldn't get excited about Chicago-style pizza. Besides, my all-time favorite pizza is from the Quonset in Waukegan. It has a super thin, crispy crust that I've never been able to replicate, and believe me, I've tried.
At any rate, I decided to serve Chicago-style hot dogs. I was surprised that few people knew about Chicago-style hot dogs, and also surprised that I couldn't find some of the ingredients in these parts. Anyway, here's how to make them and the substitutes I had to make.
In a steamed poppy seed bun (I used room temperature buns without seeds), pile in this order:
- All-beef hot dog, usually boiled (Vienna Beef is the brand of choice in Chicago, and I got the photo from their Web site. I used Wegmans beef hots, which were a very good substitute).
- Yellow mustard -- the ballpark kind
- Sweet green pickle relish. In Chicago, the relish is a bright blue-green color. I used relish that actually resembled cucumbers.
- Chopped onion
- Tomato wedges -- I used Roma tomatoes.
- Dill pickle spear
- Sport peppers -- In Chicago, these are little Serrano peppers, but I substituted hot pepper rings.
- Celery salt
Ketchup is a no-no in an authentic Chicago-style hot dog, but truth be told, I always add ketchup. I love the stuff.
I boiled the hot dogs for three minutes, then kept them warm in a crock pot on "low" with a little water on the bottom. I put out all the Chicago-style fixings, plus ketchup, chili (a friend's contribution), and cheese. People helped themselves throughout the evening. It worked out really well, and there were several new converts to Chicago-style hot dogs.
I wanted to offset my unhealthy main dish with something healthy. I decided on cantaloupe and blueberries, arranged to look like the Bears logo. I'm not usually very good with food presentation, but I was happy with how this turned out.
The only things I actually cooked was Cajun Chicken Wing dip -- not a Chicago thing, but you've got to have some kind of chicken wing dish when you're watching football around here -- and Baked Potato Skins.
My friends filled in the rest with many different contributions. Hooray for them!
As for the Bears ... wait 'til next year!