I have a weakness for frankfurters, in any shape, form, size or ethnic persuasion. So it was highly enlightening for me to receive a copy of a national frankfurter company survey that questioned more than 300 people across the country on their prejudices about the American nosh.
The frankfurter, known by at least a dozen different names from coast to coast, is still referred to as a hot dog by more than three-quarters of the people polled. But this cross section of the public was far from unanimous in its preference for how a frankfurter should be prepared or garnished.
Dousing a Frankfurter
The survey also uncovered that some aficionados will douse a frankfurter with practically anything under the sun. Products mentioned included such divergent condiments as coleslaw, peanut butter, mayonnaise, horseradish and maple syrup.
Americans, clearly, have strong emotional attachments to their frankfurter consumption. Whereas more than 80% of those tallied admitted to eating between one and seven a month, more than 25% have at least on one occasion eaten four or more at a single sitting.
Perhaps the reason for the frankfurter popularity (an estimated 18 billion will be eaten this year) is the increasing public awareness of its nutritional value.
Back in the Depression, I remember that we used frankfurters as the basis of casseroles and one-dish dinners at least two times a week. A unique Texas version of the myriad con carne renderings, this dish originally was devised with chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage). It does equally well with spicy beef frankfurters as a stand-in. HOT CHILI DAWG
1 pound dried peas (granules), soaked overnight in cold water
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound spicy beef frankfurters, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
3 pounds beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons chopped jalapeno chiles
2 tablespoons masa harina
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon crushed dried hot red peppers
1 1/2 cups chopped, seeded and peeled tomatoes
1 (17-ounce) can plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
Drain soaked beans. Place in large pot water. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 hour. Drain.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large Dutch oven. Saute frankfurters until crisp on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon to plate.
Add remaining oil to pan. Pat beef cubes dry and saute over medium heat, a few pieces at a time, until well browned on all sides. Transfer to plate with frankfurters.
Add onions to Dutch oven. Cook 1 minute. Add garlic, green peppers and jalapenos. Cook over medium-low heat 5 minutes. Return meats to pan.
Stir in masa harina, chili powder, cumin and red peppers. Mix well. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and beef broth. Heat to boiling and cover. Place in 350-degree oven and bake until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Stir beans into meat mixture. Bake, uncovered, additional 30 minutes. If beans seem too dry, add more broth. Makes 8 servings.
I usually make the following dish with French garlic sausage or Polish kielbasa, but thick, soft beef frankfurters, cut on the bias, make an admirable All-American substitution. WARM KOHLRABI-FRANKFURTER SALAD
6 medium kohlrabi bulbs, trimmed and peeled
3 tablespoons dry vermouth
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound beef frankfurters, sliced diagonally about 1 inch thick
2 green onions, trimmed and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Cook peeled kohlrabi bulbs in boiling salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine vermouth, vinegar, mustard, salt and oil. Set aside.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-low heat. Saute frankfurters until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Meanwhile, cut kohlrabi into 1/4-inch-thick slices and place in medium bowl. Whisk vermouth dressing and pour over kohlrabi. Add sliced frankfurters and green onions. Toss lightly and serve sprinkled with parsley. Makes 4 to 6 servings.