Chicago Style Hot Dogs

I have always loved Chicago Hot Dogs. When I was young we lived on the South Side of Chicago and we frequently visited a little hot dog stand that was named Carl’s Hot Dogs. I just called them and unbelievably they are still in business after 54 years! (I am 60 and went to Carls when I was 6).  The new name is: Carl’s Red Hots, located at the original Carls’s location at 1957 E. 83rd St. Chicago, IL 60617. Their phone number is 773-721-8300.

When we were very young my cousin Phil Graff and I used to play Carls  Hot Dogs.  We would have bowls with pretend condiments and slop on each condiment. We even had a jingle: Carls makes hot dogs with loving care, Carls makes hotdogs with loving care, Carls makes hot dogs with loving care, especially for you…

For anyone that knows Chicago well, Phil is now the president of the Old Town Triangle Association.  He is one of the smartest and kindest people in the Universe. He has worked tirelessly as a board member for years.  He is going to run for re-election as president and if you happen to be among the 350 eligible voting members – trust me – you can’t go wrong.


Phil Graff

Well anyway, my father,who is now 84 and I still love Chicago Style Hot dogs and living in Miami I have perfected making the Chicago Style Hot Dog. Today, again, I made Hot Dogs and in case you love them as much as I do you might be interested in how I prepare them.

So you need the following ingredients:

-Poppy seed hot dog buns
-Half dill pickles cut in thin spears – you can use full dill but I think half dill is better
-Sport peppers – hard to find check the internet or buy from Vienna
-Sweet relish
-Yellow mustard
-chopped yellow onion
-celery salt
-Tomato – thin sliced wedges
-Beef hot dogs – skinless

Now their are a few potential problems. Obtaining the hot dogs can be an issue.  We would prefer to use Vienna, but unfortunately they are not available from retail sources in many areas.  Hebrew National, our second choice, is also good quality.

Now, there is a trick to cook the hot dogs. You definitely want to boil the hot dogs. But if you boil in plain water the flavor of the hot dogs is diluted. So here is the secret.  Finely chop up 6 hot dogs in a blender.  Add these hot dogs to a quart of water and simmer for at least 2 hours.  Add water as necessary  Then, when you are ready, boil your hot dogs in the flavored water for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Buns are also a big problem. You MUST have poppy seed hot dog buns. If you live in the Chicago area you can get buns from Vienna or Rosens – no problem. But in other areas finding the right buns can be a problem.  In Miami, I call Publix, our largest supermarket chain, the day before and they bake the buns for me. They are excellent quality, fresh, and reasonable. You must briefly steam the buns just before serving.  If you look on the internet there is a small company that sells a little steamer rack that hangs from the top of a pot of water.  This seems to work fine – if you aren’t serving more than 4-6 people.

So add all the condiments on the dogs with a generous shake of celery salt and you have it.

Chicago Style Hot Dog by Steven Pinkert

By Steven Pinkert, a Miami lawyer, that loves Chicago Style Hot Dogs, home made french fries and home made Cole Slaw using Joes Stone Crab recipe.  I will post on these soon.