In Hot Dogs from Almost Heaven, written by foodie, chef, and hot dog lovers’ best friend Harry Lynch, Lynch pays tribute to the hot dog, AKA the frankfurter, or the ‘gimme one with slaw and chili.’ Hailing from West Virginia, Lynch is a crowd pleaser. He imparts an arsenal of recipes for dogs and their fixin’s, all the while making you laugh.
He includes recipes for chili, toppings, side dishes, and the perfect desserts to accompany your frankfurter fantasy. You’ll be ready for company whether you want to cook dogs Chicago-style for two, Coney Island-style for twenty or West Virginia-style for ninety. And you and your guests will be holding your sides the whole time from both laughing and eating.
RED-HOT HOT DOG CHILI EXPERT’S NEW COOKBOOK FOCUSES ON FAVORITE FRANKS
Publication: THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE
Byline: JUDY GRIGORACI
“Because it was known that I cook competition chili in the International Chili Society contests, everyone assumed I had a terrific hot dog chili,” said Summersville resident Harry Lynch. “I didn’t.”
Local clubs and church groups constantly called upon him to make hot dog chili for their functions. He admitted to them that he had a sauce for his household use, but he didn’t think it was anything to write home about. “I always agreed to help out, forewarning that the chili wasn’t very good.”
Two years ago Lynch decided he had to come up with one good hot dog chili. He investigated, researched, developed and had fun working in his kitchen lab, gathering every possible variation of hot dogs and toppings from around the country. Many, many, many hot dogs later, he had his first comprehensive cookbook “Hot Dogs from Almost Heaven,” new this month.
“I cook chili” is a mild statement, weaker than an open pot of red in a rainstorm, to describe what Lynch actually has accomplished in the amateur chilihead arena.
He has won a spot at the world championship cook-off three times and has more than 40 awards for his chili alone. But he didn’t stop there.
Over the years, he has entered and placed as a finalist or winner in numerous nationwide competitions, including Hormel, Dunwood Wine and Bon Appetit magazine and, most recently, the 2005 National Chicken Cook-off with a Kyoto Chicken and Oriental Pan Gravy.
In 1989 he represented West Virginia at the crown jewel of them all, the Pillsbury Bake-Off, where he prepared a Fiesta Fajita Bowl.
Lynch put out a call for hot dog and topping recipes and received them from as far away as Australia. He selected 77 of the very best to include in his easy-to-follow, humorous, single-subject cookbook. You could say he has made it into the “wiener’s circle” with this comprehensive how-to for hot dogs.
“Hot Dogs From Almost Heaven” contains seriously good recipes, but he hasn’t taken himself or the subject too seriously. It has uncomplicated recipes, easy to find and easy to prepare ingredients, with end results that are great to eat.
Feel ambitious and want to make your own franks? He has the recipe. Cooking for a crowd? Vegan? Never fear. He has those covered, too. He takes you to different areas of the country through a wiener, bun and toppings, highlighting hot dog eating styles that are city- or state-specific.
“The Chicago Dog has been described as a ‘salad in a bun,'” he explained as he assembled one of the most unusual hot dogs. “In it, an all-beef wiener keeps company with a generous ribbon of yellow mustard, bright green sweet pickle relish, fresh chopped onions, two tomato wedges, a Kosher pickle spear, two hot salad peppers and – a definite must- a sprinkling of celery salt. Chicago natives insist it isn’t authentic without the celery salt.”
Continuing around the culinary map, Lynch has dog and sauce recipes for geographic spots such as Hawaii, New York Street Vendor, Toledo, Coney Island, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Mexi-Dog (the simplest in the book) and by all means, the old-fashioned chili-and-slaw West Virginia dog.
The book isn’t confusing – a concern that might jump to mind in a book of chili recipes. It’s small, making it simple to select and try whatever appeals. If anything is puzzling, he has a short question and answer section in the back, along with six recipes for sides (potato and macaroni salad, slaw, beans) and a couple desserts perfect for a hot dog feast.
According to Lynch, one wiener cooking method isn’t superior over another. He believes you get the same fine product whether you boil, grill, microwave, steam, spear on a stick over a campfire or heat in those metal-channel appliances.
Well, then, so much for the frank. But for someone who has devoted the better part of the past two years submerged in hot dog chili, does he have a favorite sauce? “I do, but I make it a point to not express my opinion or recommendation to anyone because that might tend to stop them from trying some of the other recipes in the book that they may like just as much.”
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
1/2 pound ground chuck
2 tablespoons minced onion
1cup medium picante sauce
Brown ground chuck with onions over medium heat; drain; return meat to skillet and add picante sauce. Simmer on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.
For the Mexi-Dog, grill or pan-fry wiener to get some dark edges. Place in toasted English bun; add a thin stream of ketchup. Top with sauce; add chopped onions. Ole’.
NOTE: May sprinkle finished hot dog with shredded Mexican-blend cheese, if desired.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: (1 dog) 190 calories; 70 calories from fat; 7 grams fat; 2.5 grams saturated fat; 20 milligrams cholesterol; 460 milligrams sodium; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 8 grams protein.