Hamburgers may get top billing on a cookout menu, but today’s hot dogs are the full meal themselves, says Ronnie Heckman, owner of Caddies Bar and Grill in Bethesda.
“Hot dogs are universal,” he says. And Heckman should know. At Caddies, sandwiches of both the hot and cold variety are something of a specialty, so believe him when he delivers this bit of culinary news: The latest way to eat a hot dog is with all those cookout sides on top.
Take their top-selling dog, the crab mac ‘n’ cheese dog. It is, as name implies, a hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese and crab meat. Specifically, it’s a Vienna brand hot dog from Chicago with a skin that’s “got a nice bite and snap’’ and which is grilled, and not boiled or broiled, Heckman says. To be fair, all three cooking options are legit. But Caddies grills its dogs.
The macaroni and cheese is baked and has nine types of cheese, because … well, because. Does cheese really need an explanation? “It’s not like a soupy mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s substantial,” Heckman says.
That’s an important factor for the home cooks to note, as these are ideally eaten poolside, on a lawn chair or in whatever resting nook your backyard provides. It is the outdoors, but no dripping please.
The cheesy pasta is topped with crab meat and then sprinkled with, you guessed it, Old Bay, the world’s best condiment.
While he likes a “plain Jane” hot dog with spicy mustard, onion and relish, Heckman suggests that party planners wrap a dog in bacon and top with guacamole, queso, pico and sour cream. Caddies offered a popular version of this “Sonora dog” at one time, so Heckman can attest to its crowd appeal.
Too complicated? A Western dog has onion, jalapenos and Chipotle ranch. (Chipotle ranch is like the new ketchup in the world of dogs. You heard it here first.)
A Reuben also can be replicated with a hot dog. Wrap the dog in corned beef, add slaw, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing, and you are good to go, Heckman says.
Today’s hot dogs can be “whatever you want.” Pork, beef, veggie. Skin on, skin off. Boil, broiled or grilled. All of it, he says, tastes good.