It turns out that the master sausagierre of Chicago (a word I just made up that means maker of gourmet encased meats) Doug Sohn of Hot Doug’s has written a book.
And it also turns out that Hot Doug himself was once a hot dog diarist. In a Chicago Tribune article on Thursday, done up in interview format, Sohn says, “So a group of us went to a different hot dog stand every few weeks, and started to grade and write reviews. Most of the places were in the C+ range.”
That’s what I’m finding too, Hot Doug!
The man cares about hot dogs – with a care that goes beyond stuffing mediocre dogs down his gullet and griping about the lackluster quality of the fare at many Chicago hot dog joints. He took action. He opened his own joint, and as he says, (I’m paraphrasing now) “I did it my way.”
It’s a great joint, Hot Doug’s. My intrepid partner Hot-C and I have shared many a gourmet dog there (it is possible to get a Chicago-Style Dog there, for only two bucks). But when you have offerings like whatever "la spécialité de maison" happens to be (I once had a rib-eye sausage with smoked gruyere and Dusseldorf horseradish cream) and a pretty glib selection of other dog styles on the menu, you find yourself in dog heaven. There’s the Sal Tessio (formerly the Frankie Pentangeli, the Virgil Sollozzo and the Luca Brasi) which is (you guessed it) an Italian Sausage. “It's not personal, it's strictly sausage,” the menu says. There’s also the Brigitte Bardot (formerly the Salma Hayek, the Madonna, the Raquel Welch and the Ann-Margret) made of Andouille Sausage, so named because it is “Mighty, mighty, mighty hot!” And the Paul Kelly bratwurst is “soaked in beer – sort of like Paul.”
On weekends, the now-legendary fries cooked in duck fat draw lines out the door. They are succulent, rich, and make you feel kind of naughty.
And how is Hot Doug’s Chicago-Style dog? It’s first-rate, of course. Anybody with a t-shirt that says, "There are no two finer words in the English language than ‘encased meats,’ my friend" is going to make a fresh, tasty, carefully assembled dog.
Go ahead and pre-order the book – and tell your Dad that’s what you got him for Father’s Day and show him the Amazon gift receipt. Then tell him you’d love it if he’d make a couple of his famous dogs on the grill for you.
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