Hot dogs have always had a reputation for being mystery meat. But this unsavory fact, plus a lot of other undesirable ingredients, still aren’t enough to keep hot dogs from being loved by kids, and kids at heart. While many markets now offer grass-fed, organic hot dogs, you can also take on the challenge of making healthier hot dogs yourself.
Fresh and flavorful, homemade hot dogs can be made with meat of your choosing, taking the mystery out of it. This recipe is for all beef dogs, seasoned with a simple “hot dog” blend. You’ll need a meat grinder (unless the butcher grinds the meat for you), a food processor, and a sausage stuffer. You’ll also need natural sheep casings. Talk to your butcher ahead of time, in case they have to special order the casings. For hot dogs, sheep casings are best because they’re thinner.
Is making homemade hot dogs more expensive and time consuming than just buying “healthier” hot dogs at the store? Yes and yes. But if you want to know exactly what goes into the hot dogs you’re eating, and if you’re up for a fun culinary challenge, then this recipe is for you.
Servings: Approximately 15 dogs, depending on how long they are
Time in the Kitchen: 1.5 to 2 hours of hands-on cooking, plus 3 hours of chilling and/or cooking the meat
2 pounds/900 g well-marbled chuck, cut into 1-inch/2.5 cm cubes (or, ask your butcher to just grind the chuck for you)
1 teaspoon granulated onion (5 ml)
1 teaspoon granulated garlic (5 ml)
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (12 ml)
1 tablespoon sweet paprika (15 ml)
¼ teaspoons white pepper (1.25 ml)
¼ teaspoon ground coriander (1.25 ml)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg (1.25 ml)
1 cup crushed ice (a handful)
Sheep casings, about 24-26 mm in size
If the temperature of the ground meat rises during the process of grinding, mixing and stuffing the hot dogs, the finished hot dogs will have a grainy texture. So, it’s important to keep the meat cold while working with it. Keeping all of your tools cold (grinder, stuffer, food processor bowl and blade) helps keep the meat cold. Before starting, put all your tools in the refrigerator so they are cold. Also, if you are grinding the meat yourself (instead of having your butcher do it), put the meat cubes in the freezer for 1 hour, to get the meat really cold before grinding it.
In a small bowl mix together the granulated onion, granulated garlic, salt, sweet paprika, white pepper, coriander and nutmeg. Set aside.
If the butcher has not already ground the chuck for you, grind the meat through the finest/smallest plate of your grinder. If the meat starts to come up to room temperature during the grinding process, set the bowl of ground meat in a larger bowl filled with ice water to keep the meat cold.
Add the spices to the ground meat, using your hands to blend it in really well (wetting your hands helps keep the meat from sticking). Put the meat back in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
Scrape the meat into a cold food processor bowl with half the ice. Process until the ice is blended in. Add the rest of the ice. Process until the ice is blended in and the mixture is very smooth, with a texture similar to thick batter. If the texture is not as smooth as you like, add a little bit of ice water. It should hopefully take no more than 5 minutes to reach the right texture.
Cover the mixture tightly with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour, or up to overnight.
While the meat chills, rinse the casings under cool running water to remove any salt. Place the casings in a bowl of cool water and let soak 30 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cool running water again.
Use the stuffing attachment on a meat grinder to stuff the cold, seasoned meat into the casings. Twist the stuffed casing into the lengths of hot dogs you prefer.
*Need a helpful instructional video for grinding and stuffing sausage? Watch this one.
Once stuffed, par-boil the hot dogs in gently simmering water for 25 minutes. Plunge into ice water until the hot dogs are completely chilled. The hot dogs can be kept refrigerated for up to a week before eating.
To finish cooking right before serving, the hot dogs can be boiled, grilled, or cut open and seared in a cast iron skillet.