Feb 22, 2012 6:37 PM

Let's Make a Meal: Sonoran Hot Dogs, a Tucson original

TUCSON - With Arizona's Centennial in mind, today our food contributor Jennifer English stopped by with one of the unique, traditional foods from Southern Arizona: the Sonoran Hot Dog!

Here's what she had to say:

I really love the month of February. There is so much to enjoy, and here in Tucson with these beautiful sunny days, cool starry nights and friends and family visiting from out of town, we have just the things to tempt them to stay a little longer in this delicious place we call home.

Whether you are hosting a Rodeo Parade tailgate, Oscar Party, or other celebration this week, we think that The Sonoran Hot Dog can be an edible Tucson experience. Made famous by two local restaurants ( El Guero Canelo and BK) , Sonoran Hot Dogs, like the Philadelphia Cheesesteak, have spawned a fierce rivalry that rages on.

Fans insist that El Guero Canelo is superior, while others will fight to defend the culinary honor of BK Carne Asada. Almost every food television network and show has been to Tucson to weigh-in on the debate. Our finest chefs, including James Beard, Award winner Janos Wilder, and Chef Albert Hall from Acacia, have offered their spin on them. The Sonoran Hot Dog is not just a winner. It is a delicious, complex, multi-layered meal in a bun. It has been described as a chili dog on steroids, but that is insufficient to describe the "surprises" contained in the best Sonoran hot dogs. Chili dogs never dreamed this big.

You can serve small ones, like Albert Hall does at Acacia, called "Sonoran Pups" for an Oscar party. You can get the whole family involved in a "Make Your Own Sonoran Hot Dog Party". Set out an entire array of toppings and let your culinary inspiration be free. I suggest we all start with the classic recipe as featured in the Tucson Citizen (recipe copyrighted by Tucson Citizen)

• Get a beef hot dog and wrap it like a mummy with bacon. Mesquite bacon is good. ( I like the garlic taste of the Kosher hot dogs, but try a variety of wieners from The Sausage Shop in Tucson for the most exciting results)
• Fry it on a griddle until the bacon gets crisp. Some people like to fry the bacon a little first and then wrap it around the hot dog and then fry them both in the bacon grease.
• Take a hot dog bun or bolillo roll that has been slit to make a pocket in the middle. If you want you can toast them a little or, in the case of the bolillo roll, steam it for a minute to make it soft. Work with what you have on hand or what you feel like.
• Put mayo, mustard and ketchup on the bun and insert the bacon-wrapped dog. If you want to squirt the mayo on top, like they do at the stands, mix it with a little lemon juice or water to thin it out. Put it into a squeeze bottle or sandwich bag with a corner cut off and squeeze it on top when you are done, along with the mustard and ketchup.
• Add warm pinto beans, cheese (shredded Mexican cotijo cheese, cheddar, whatever), chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, sliced or blended jalapenos or some type of jalapeno/green chili salsa.
• "Just stick whatever you want on there, and whatever amount, to make it taste good." (You hear this talking to many Mexican cooks)
But since we have a genuine rivalry here in Tucson, I thought the best way to honor that tradition is to offer 2 recipes from different sources, each perfect in its own right. Similar yet different.
Sonoran Hot Dogs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Robb Walsh

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Tabasco or other hot sauce
Juice of 1 large lemon
8 all-beef wieners (fat ones work better than long ones)
8 slices extra-thin bacon
8 torpedo rolls or bolillos
1/2 cup warm refried beans
1 cup guacamole
1/2 cup grated jack or cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup Salsa Verde

1) Mix mayonnaise, Tabasco, and lemon juice and put into a squeeze bottle.
2) Wrap hot dogs with bacon slices, covering completely. Grill or broil them, rolling hot dogs until bacon is crunchy on all sides, about 7 minutes.
3) Cut a pocket into buns to form a "boat" and toast them in oven or on a grill.
4) When hot dogs are cooked, divide beans and guacamole among eight rolls, spooning them inside pocket and spreading on either side of rolls. Spread cheese down the middle. Using tongs put one piping-hot bacon-wrapped hot dog into pocket of each roll. Top each with onions and tomatoes. Spread Salsa Verde across top. Apply mayonnaise blend in squiggles over tops of hot dogs. Yield: 8 servings.


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