Sometimes Harris wants “fun” food: the stuff from the bad old days of processed edibles with ingredient lists only a chem major can understand. Chili dogs fall into that category. I’m not a hard liner when it comes to his choices. As he’s been known to remark to control-freaky friends in the midst of a tirade, “Not the mama!” I cook with the ingredients and in the style that makes sense for me, and so far, he hasn’t left the table in order to run out to the golden arches. But he will ask for such weirdness as Hormel chili-topped dogs about twice a year, and I’ll cringe, and pick up the can with my handy 11-foot pole. I used to actually open the thing and heat it up, but then I decided he could manage that task and leave me out of it. This last time he requested chili dogs, I thought I’d just make my own version and see what transpires.
Grassfed hot dogs are easy to find if you’ve got a Whole Foods around, and conventional grocery stores are beginning to stock grassfed and pastured meats and poultry with some consistency. Making paleo chili con carne is easy. And this recipe is packed with nutritious goodness and excellent flavor. It’s the bun that’s the problem. While gluten free options are available, “gluten free” rarely qualifies as paleo. I found a recipe for paleo hot dog rolls and had a link to it, but since this post was first published, the recipe has been taken down. It certainly fit the bill, and I so appreciate the recipe developer’s work, in the end though, I skipped eating much of it, and the rest of the group found it to be only “okay.” The trouble with faux breads is that they just don’t equate. Some wheaty alternatives can be awesome, but it’s usually in the sweets section of the recipe index. Once fruits or chocolate are introduced, paleo baked goods become quite delicious. The bare bones reality of the paleo sandwich-delivery systems we’ve tried is that they’re less than memorable. Personally I’d rather do without.
My benchmark for bread options is this: if the item is so damn delicious you could eat it without butter, toppings or fillings of any kind, it’s the real deal. But most breads and buns are ho-hum flat and boring, so why bother? I know … it’s the ones that aren’t that are hard to forget. And believe, me, if there was one ingredient to be grievously troubled by, I would have to get wheat. Could it be radishes? Of course not. I could start with breakfast and give you a litany of wheat-based treats that I adore, but can no longer eat without being punished, that would fill ten pages. On rare occasions I’ll dip a toe in the gluten pool regardless and suffer the consequences, but for the most part, I have no regrets. Two of my sisters and I went out for burgers the other night and I barely gave a thought about leaving out the bun. It can be done, though it can be a chore at times, and I continue to search and experiment. If I come upon a winner, you’ll be second to know ‘cuz Harris has to give his thumbs up first. Meanwhile, chili dogs are so messy that a traditional bun tends to disintegrate anyway, and until a truly delectable option shows up, I think we’ll all be content to knife-and-fork this dish.
The consensus on this recipe was that it’s a winner. I heard no sentimental pining for Hormel, and perhaps we’ve left that old dragon behind.
To go with the chili dogs, I wanted a fresh, crispy/crunchy side, and borrowing from a Cook’s Illustrated technique, I have a recipe for cherry tomato salad with a Tex Mex flavor profile that goes nicely with the chili dogs. Okay, I confess, we have a bounty of cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100s) and cucumbers in the garden, and we eat them everyday. This recipe was a way to dress them differently. I do hope you enjoy! For the playlist, I have an eclectic assortment of tunes for your listening pleasure.