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Since my fondest memories of hot dogs are associated with baseball games, where weenies were generally steamed or boiled. Therefore, as a bench mark, I ran the first batch through boiled. My all-time favorite hot dog is a fat weenie, generously slathered with mustard, chopped onions and sauerkraut and bedded down in a bun that stays together long enough to be consumed. This fond flavor was developed in the years when every town with more than two barber shops had a semi-pro baseball team that played on Thursday and Sunday afternoons. That hot dog remains the all-time best fifteen cent bargain. A nickel drink still left enough money from a quarter for a bag of peanuts. (That was after I had walked six miles, each way, to school - through the snow.)
With my benchmark newly polished on the palate, I carefully marked cryptic identification on each variety and invited some friends with sons of immense appetites and indiscriminate palates. I told the parents that I was grilling steaks, waiting until they arrived to clarify that they were "tube steaks".
As a matter of pure research, I also tested a theory that had come to me in the wee hours of the morning - whence come brilliant thoughts that need to be quickly written down and captured before they escape forever. With the weight of weenie wonders weighing heavily, I had for some weeks entertained the idea of simmering weenies in one of my legendary basting sauces, before putting it on the grill, thereby transforming this close cousin to a road kill into an elegant example of gastronomic ecstasy.
Had I not properly fortified myself I would, no doubt, have trembled in anticipation.
But, alas, another bolt of bedtime brilliance bit the boards. Smoky's First Law of Weenies is, "It is easier to grow pearls inside hickory nuts than to change the taste of weenies."
Not one to falter in the face of foul fortune, I prepared a superb assortment of green woods for subtle flavoring on the grill. Presenting statistically valid samples to carefully controlled conditions, I grilled each lot to perfection. True to tradition, I properly burned some. When done, I cut each weenie in half, to allow precise testing on a properly primed palate.
The results of the tests were clear and decisive. Those who like hot dogs, liked them.
Smoky's Second Law of Weenies is, "It is easier to grow pearls inside hickory nuts than to change the taste of weenies."
The all-beef and the all-turkey varieties got highest marks. Price and promotion proved irrelevant. Everybody was surprised by the variety. Proving the theory that most people just take a bite of whatever is in their hand and keep on talking.
In summary, hot dogs are still a viable victual that most kids and many adults enjoy. They are quick, easy and nutritious. Don't try to improve them.
Keep the temperature lower than for normal broiling. If you drop the temperature to around 300 degrees, have patience and a sturdy grill, you can let the kids do their own. Allow a few extra for the dogs, dirt and burnt offerings. Afterwards, stir up the coals, add more charcoal and relax until the grill is ready to cook whatever you intend to eat.
Don't forget to have a good time.
Philosophically, weenies aren't quite as good as I remembered nor nearly as bad as I expected. Gastronomically, they are not likely to change.
Good gobbling to all,
© 1999 by Smoky Hale
8168 Hwy 98 E.
McComb, MS 39648
Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
'According to Smoky' is (c) by C. Clark Hale
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