by David Olson0
Top 5 Hot Dog, Sausage & Brat Prep Tips for Labor Day
Without a doubt, we are a country of hungry, stars & stripes-waving, hotdog-grilling bunch of folks! And, if you needed factual confirmation of this statement, according to the National Hotdog and Sausage Council (yes, there is actually a National Hotdog and Sausage Council), from Memorial Day to Labor Day, 818 hotdogs are consumed every second. Yes, 818 every second. Of every day. For 97 consecutive days!
Do the math. That’s 6.8555 billion hotdogs. Billion. With a, “B.”
During this time period, the largest single day of hotdog consumption in the summer grilling season is Independence Day. The National Retail Federation estimated that more than 150 million patriots would spend $6,200,000,00.00 celebrating 4th of July in the grandest of fashions alongside family, friends & loved ones – at old school, brewski-stocked, firework-studded, backyard barbeques – consuming more than 1,000,000,000 pounds of beef, chicken & pork.
And… what’s the main course at those holiday barbeques? You guessed it – 175,000,000 hotdogs, sausages & brats! Nearly one full hot dog for every adult man & woman from sea to shining sea. Absolutely incredible.
That said, with Labor Day here, and the unofficial end of hotdog season rounding third and barreling into home, it’s time to prepare for one last hot dog hurrah. I’ve been to thousands of barbeques in my day, witnessing first-hand the good, great, bad & embarrassingly ugly of grilled dogs. So, whether laying brat to flame for the first time this weekend, or you’re the self-glossed, “neighborhood barbeque legend” – here are a few best practices, grill master insights & top dog techniques that are sure-fire winners for your grand grill out finale!
Top 5 BEST Hot dog, Sausages & Brats Practices:
1. Fact: Purchasing quality meat from a trusted source like Omaha Steaks is step numero uno in preparing & plating phenomenal, flavorful, grill dogs. Conversely, investing in cheap meats will be considered an invitation for friends to never attend another of your less-than-savory backyard barbeques.
2. Start with the end in mind. The objective is to brown your dogs, elevate the internal temperature to 170F, and ensure the natural casing is both charred & unruptured – delivering a great “snap” when bitten into and juicy, incredible flavor to the very last bite!
3. Do not rush the cooking process of dogs, brats or sausages: Once the casing breaks, all is lost. Although among the manliest of barbeque menu selections, links should be treated with a bit of delicacy.
4. If grilling, build a 2-zone cooking surface, with one hot, direct heat zone & one cooler, indirect heat zone:
- Gas 1-burner grill – leverage the warming shelf, lined with tin foil, to remove the meat from direct contact with the grill grates.
- Gas 2-burner grill – heat the right side to hot and leave the left side off.
- Gas 3-burner grill – heat the far right side to hot, the middle to low-medium and the left side off.
- Gas 4-burner grill – heat the two right zones to high and leave the two left zones off.
- Charcoal grill: After lighting coals, push the majority of coals to one side of the grill, slanting the remaining coals to the opposite side of the grill.
5. Three tried & true methods to preparing your dogs:
- Boiling: Not recommended – unless you take 0 pride in your culinary effort. Place dogs in a vat of boiling salted water. When the dogs rise & float, they are finished (figuratively & literally). But, double-check internal temperatures to ensure at least 170F. Serve … or, order delivery pizza.
- Braise & Barbeque: If executed appropriately, this method can infuse an incredible amount of flavor to your dogs, while delivering a great end result! In a large, shallow pan, lay chopped onion, minced garlic, a solution of dark or amber beer & water (2:1 Beer:Water). The solution should not entirely submerse the dogs. Bring to a gentle simmer. Place dogs in the beer bath & braise until 130-140F, turning intermittently. Remove from liquid & place upon the grill. Discard liquid. Over medium, direct heat, char the exterior of your dogs. Turn every 2-3 minutes, ensuring that the casing does not rupture. Remove from grill when internal temperature hits 165-170F. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving.
- Grilling: Remember – if you want great, smoky dogs with a fantastic “snap,” – slow & steady wins the race! Over medium, indirect heat, brown the exterior of your dogs, turning every 3-5 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 130-140F. Then, move the dogs to direct heat, charring the exterior. Rotate every 2-3 minutes, ensuring that the casing does not rupture. Remove from grill when internal temperature hits 165-170F. Allow to rest 3-5 minutes before serving.