Chicago-Style Hot Dogs: when you can't (quite) get there from here

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The first time I tried re-creating a Chicago culinary icon outside the limits of the Windy City, I went into the process blind.

A lamb led to the slaughter, as it were.

Chicago-Style deep-dish pizza – how tough could it be?

As it turned out, it wasn’t the pizza that was tough – it was the Chicagoland readers, who were, shall we say, vociferous in pointing out the multiple errors of my ways; mainly, the addition of cornmeal to the crust. Here’s an example of one of the Chicago-style pizza blog comments:

“I am looking forward to trying the recipe but I see one thing right off the bat that I take issue with and that is the addition of cornmeal. None of the big-time Chicago deep dish establishments use cornmeal, and I personally find cornmeal in my crust to be gritty and unpleasant…”

A very long back-and-forth among Chicago-area readers ensued, focusing first on cornmeal (yay or nay – the debate still rages), then on the best place to get “authentic” Chicago deep-dish pizza.

That subject, too, remains unresolved.

Thankfully, nearly all the readers were polite; one of our tenets here at King Arthur Flour is to disagree agreeably, so I appreciate keeping the energy positive.

But I learned my lesson: if I’m going to tout any particular recipe as “Chicago,” I’d best have all my ducks in a row.

Or, in the case of Chicago-style hot dogs – my sport peppers and pickle wedges ready to go.

Step #1: Sample a REAL Chicago-style hot dog.

Midway Airport, outside downtown Chicago: the crowd gathers at Gold Coast Dogs, which I’m assured is a “real” Chicago hot dog chain – despite, in this case, being far from the Loop.

“Voted Best Hot Dog in Chicago,” trumpets the Gold Coast Dogs Web site.

Well, that sounds promising.

While waiting to make my way to the front of the line, I had plenty of time to contemplate the menu.

Jumbo Chicago, Jumbo Char, Char Polish, Cheddar Char… which was the “real” dog?

Susan Reid, our long-time Baking Sheet editor and test kitchen stalwart, wrote a piece detailing the Chicago dog in The Baking Sheet 10 years ago. Susan has lived in Chicago; and she knows her Windy City eats. Here’s what she says:

“The Midwest has a number of culinary traditions, and when I lived in Chicago I discovered a few of them. One of the biggest surprises was hot dogs. People in Chicago are very, very serious about hot dogs. The number of toppings and the specific sequence of layering on the dog of your choice were practically mind-boggling.

“First of all, there was the Chicago Red Hot, ‘dragged through the garden.’ This meant a Vienna Beef Frank, topped with (in order, please) yellow mustard; sweet green pickle relish; chopped onion; chopped fresh tomato or tomato wedges; a kosher dill pickle spear; sport peppers (tiny pickled hot green peppers); and celery salt. This is the dog you’ll find at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs.

“Other vendors strayed off the trail somewhat, but in general a Chicago hot dog may have onions, sauerkraut, hot peppers, mustard, and the brightest neon green relish you’ve ever seen riding on top. Sometimes chili, sometimes cheese. Ketchup? Well, all right, if you really must; people in Chicago are way too polite to scoff at you, but you will have branded yourself a non-native at the least. And a potential sissy at worst.”

I’ll take a “JUMBO Char Dog (Chicago Style),” please.

Wow, Susan was right about the neon-green relish. Not sure any natural-born cuke has ever worn THAT particular shade…

But color aside, the dog was fabulous. Really. Charred enough to snap when I bit it, it was the perfect salty base to the sweet relish, crunchy onions, tangy mustard, onions, tomatoes, and those mildly hot little sport peppers.

Oh, and the celery salt – little things do, indeed, mean a lot.

So your mission, should you choose to accept it: clone a Chicago-style hot dog.

In your own non-Chicago home.

Let’s start with the bun, which Susan describes as follows:

“Needless to say, the carrier for this megalopolis had to be substantial: no undersized, spongy supermarket dog buns for this creation, no sir! In the Windy City you’ll find a big, chewy poppy seed bun that has enough oomph to support the skyscraper constructions that Chicago natives depend on for a quick lunch. Here’s our version.”

What she said.

Without further ado, let’s make Chicago “Red Hot” Poppy Seed Buns.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it’ll work for any of our photos.

Place the following in a bowl:

3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
3 tablespoons King Arthur Easy-Roll Dough Improver or Baker’s Special Dry Milk; optional, but helpful for shaping buns
4 tablespoons butter OR 1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water
1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping

Can you make these buns with whole wheat flour? It’ll change their texture and flavor, but sure. Start by substituting 2/3 cup whole wheat flour for 2/3 cup of the all-purpose flour. If you like the result, substitute a greater amount of whole wheat next time. And remember: they may be fiber-friendly, but whole wheat hot dog buns will disqualify you from this mission – authentic Chicago-style hot dogs.

Mix and knead – by hand, mixer, or bread machine set on the dough cycle – until the dough is smooth and satiny.

Put the dough in a greased bowl (or a greased 8-cup measure, as I’ve done here).

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it’s close to doubled, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.

Divide the dough into 10 pieces; if you have a scale, they’ll weigh about 72g each.

Shape each piece into a rough 3″ log, and let the logs rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough at a time, flatten it, and fold it in half lengthwise, sealing the seam. Repeat: flatten, fold, and seal. (If you’ve ever shaped baguettes, this is the same technique.)

By the second flatten/fold/seal, the log will have elongated a bit; flatten it one more time, making a 6″ oval that’s as even as you can get it.

Lay the bun on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, laying the buns about 3/4″ from one another, for soft-sided buns; or farther apart for buns with crust all around.

Cover the buns lightly with greased plastic wrap, and let them rise until they’re noticeably puffy but not doubled, about 1 hour.

Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mix the reserved egg white with 2 teaspoons cold water, and brush the mixture over the top of the risen buns. Sprinkle heavily with poppy seeds.

Can you substitute another type of seeds for poppy seeds? Or leave the seeds off entirely? Of course; you just won’t have an authentic Chicago hot dog bun.

Bake the buns for about 18 minutes, until they’re golden brown. They may seem slightly “damp.” That’s OK; that means they’ll stay nice and soft as they cool.

Remove the buns from the oven, and let them rest briefly on the pan.

Then place them on a rack to cool.

Ah, now that’s exactly the effect I wanted: pull-apart buns that are close enough to stay moist, but distant enough to keep their shape.

There: mission accomplished! Well, at least the first leg.

Let’s tackle the second challenge: what goes inside the bun.

Well, look at that – I actually found sport peppers! Not at my local supermarket, but at a salvage-type discount store.

The Claussen dill halves are readily available at our groceries here in New England; and recommended by another of my online guides, hotdogchicagostyle.com.

As for the rest of the stuff: yellow mustard, onions, tomatoes, and celery salt are easy. But the neon relish? All I could find was bright green. I tried, Chicagolanders, I really did!

Since Vienna Beef dogs aren’t available here in northern New England, I settled for Oscar Mayer Bun-Length Beef Franks. Grilled.

Split the bun lengthwise, and nestle the grilled dog right in the center.

Add the following, in order: mustard, relish, and onions.

Next, let’s hear what Kevin, Mitch, and Matt from hotdogchicago.com advise:

Two tomato wedges: The tomatoes should be placed along the crevice between the top of the bun and the hot dog.

Pickle spear or slice: The pickle should be placed in the crevice between the bottom of the bun and the hot dog.

Whoops, looks like I mixed up top and bottom. Do what they say, not what I did!

Next, 2 sport peppers, laid lengthwise down the middle.

And finally, a sprinkle of celery salt.

Are you ready to enjoy a REAL Chicago-style hot dog?

If you build it…

…they will come!

It’s messy, and half the stuff falls out after the first bite, but hey – the same thing happened with my dog at Midway Airport, so that must be part of the authentic experience.

Chicagoans: chime in here, please. Have I nailed it?

Read, bake, and review (please) our recipe for Chicago “Red Hot” Poppy Seed Buns.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Aaron Frank

    Great article!

    Not sure who told you Midway was outside of the city limits but it is definitely in Chicago proper and on the South Side. Unlike -ugh – Wrigley Field (mentioned in Susan’s recipe).

    O’Hare was built in the ‘burbs but Mayor Daley (the first) actually extended the city limits along the L and around the airport so it too is in Chicago.

    But, one of the archetypical Chicago hotdog places is Superdawg which is definitely outside the city but great none the less.

    Thanks

    Thanks, Aaron – I’ve amended the reference. As I mentioned to Larry, I just assumed it was outside the limits -seemed like an awfully long shuttle ride into the city, but then, traffic could have made it seem longer than it was… Anyway, all set now. PJH

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  2. larryvere

    I don’t mean to be nitpicky, but Midway Airport is well within Chicago city limits. Otherwise, great article!

    DARN! Knew I should have double checked that; seemed like it took a good long time to get into town, but I guess Chicago is just BIG. Thanks, Larry – I’m changing that right now – otherwise risk looking like a Chicago-ignorant New England fool yet again… PJH

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  3. pjmaas

    Former Chicago-lander here. I’m anxious to try your bun recipe. I don’t get to the Windy City as often as I used to, but Hot Dogs, Deep Dish Pizza, and Italian Beef are the three foods I insist on eating every time I go there. I have a trip planned in September, and I am looking forward to some tasty eats. I remember as a kid, getting Hot Dogs with the fries thrown right on top of the the whole mess, too. Yum! I went to college at the U of I main campus in Champaign, where I had a part time job at a place called Abe’s Red Hots. The house specialty was called The Garbage Truck. It was the classic Vienna beef dog with ketchup (yes – ketchup is OK), yellow mustard, brown mustard, relish, onions, pickle spear, tomatoes, sport peppers and sauerkraut, all on a poppy seed bun. Talk about a delicious mess! Every year, my boss would run a contest for the champion fraternity/dorm floor/group that could consume the most Garbage Trucks in one sitting. What a riot! We’d show up for work early in the day, and line up hot dog buns on every counter in the kitchen. Then, we’d build the dogs assembly line style. They would fly out of the kitchen as fast as we could make them. Amazing how much a bunch of college guys can consume!! Sadly, Abe’s is no longer there. But I still remember it as one of the most fun jobs I’ve ever had.

    Thanks so much for reminiscing here – I can just picture ALL THOSE HOT DOGS lined up on the counter! And the guys wolfing them down, too. I may have to try adding ketchup and sauerkraut to make a Garbage Truck next time… :) PJH

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  4. elliesmom2

    We lived in Chicago for a few years many years ago. I make your Chicago Deep Dish Pizza all of the time, and it’s authentic enough for us! I bought my husband one of those hot dog roller machines for his birthday, and I make the King Arthur New England style buns. I love the pan. The family actually suggested that I make hot dogs for Christmas dinner. While the kids don’t remember Chicago style hot dogs, their dad and I certainly do. I’m going to have to give this bun recipe a try. Both the sport pickles and the neon pickle relish are available online.

    Good to know – if I really want to be truly authentic sometime, I can spring for the neon relish! Hope you enjoy this version of your old favorite – PJH

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  5. "John VN"

    I used to look forward to going to Superdawg when my business travels too me to Chicago. Your buns look like the real thing and I will put them on my list for the 4th of July. We are lucky that we have Bruce’s Chicago Hot Dog House nearby where he makes Chicago Dogs and Italian Beef Wick Sandwiches just like the treats from Chicago. He even sells the neon green relish and sport peppers by the 8 oz container to go. Looking forward to making some buns and our own Dogs for the holiday. Thanks for the recipe to try.

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  6. antaknee

    Nitpicky, I really do not think a Real Chicago Dog has to be purchased within the Chicago Loop or even within the city limits. For pureists like myself, it does however need to be simmered not chared, grilled, or even Fried. It is simmered and never boiled (period). The natural casing on the hot dog needs to be boiled so when it is bit into there is a little snap.
    Gold Coast’s self proclaimed best Chicago dog HA! So many better places than Gold Coast.

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  7. dryneth

    As soon as I saw this recipe, I headed to the kitchen to try these buns! Very easy to make with the great instructions and pictures you provided, and really tasty. I’m an American living in Canada and a serious hot dog lover. When I lived in California I used a brand of U-shaped buns called Caddies; they were super easy to fill and they held together to the last bite. Plus they tasted great. Unfortunately I can’t get Caddies here and I haven’t found a place to order them, so I’ve been having to settle for bland, spongy store-bought buns for years. You have saved my Dog Days with this excellent and really easy recipe! I’ll be making them often this summer, and I’ll try different toppings to use the buns with other sandwiches, too. I’d like to make the dough in advance and freeze it, do you have any tips for me?

    So glad we could help – especially since you couldn’t find your Caddies! You can mix/knead the dough and, before letting it rise, wrap it airtight (leaving a bit of room for expansion) and freeze it. When you want to use it, remove it from the freezer; place it in a greased bowl, cover the bowl, and let it thaw overnight in the fridge. The next day, let it rise in the bowl until puffy; then deflate, shape buns, and go from there. Understand that the dough might be a big sluggish, doe to having been frozen and being cold; for that reason, you might want to up the yeast in the recipe by 1/2 teaspoon. Also, don’t freeze for longer than a month, OK? Enjoy – PJH

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  8. Mercedes

    Looks great! definitely something I need to try on a BBQ evening with my friends… I live quite far from Chicago (and honestly, no early plans to visit the city, would love to, though!). However Copenhagen is also quite known for the hotdog carts in the streets, that are all year round. They are of course, European size (meaning like 3 times smaller) but full of crunchy onion that I love!!! (mind you, that onion can be found at the food shop by the cashier line in any IKEA around the world).
    cheers!
    http://www.sweethoneybunny.com

    Thanks for your blog link, Mercedes – oh, my, I shouldn’t be looking at it just before supper! :) PJH

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  9. argentyne

    Oh, that is SO NOT FAIR… Now I’m SO HUNGRY.

    Well, except for the sport peppers. I would have to leave those off because of allergies, but everything else can stay. And I’ll add an extra pickle spear to make up for the lack of peppers.

    Since I have hot dogs in the freezer, I think I will have to make these buns soon so that I can get hot dogging. :D

    Hot dog! Enjoy – PJH

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  10. booklady3102

    Seems interesting but different from the slaw dogs we have in the South. Gotta get one of them–but maybe not by making just one for myself! Reckon we can get them in Atlanta?

    Not sure Chicago dogs have traveled all the way to Georgia – maybe Gold Coast will open an outpost for you? :) PJH

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  11. Corisande

    Great blog as usual, PJ, and I loved the pictures showing the gradual, architectural building of ingredients on the hot dog. Now: would you be prepared to storm another citadel, Italian Beef, with an appropriate bread to eat it with?

    Sure, I’d love to storm the Italian Beef citadel! Do you have any particular sources in mind? I’ve never had it, don’t know what it is, so need somewhere to start… PJH

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  12. pdw20515

    As a native south-sider, I can tell you that our Italian Beef sandwiches can’t be beat. Of course, every restaurant/carry-out place has their own version …. but here the trick is to use authentic Italian beef … in Chicago, it’s Scala’s Italian beef, hands-down (along with the requisite gravy). We are fortunate in that we can buy it in most deli departments of the chain stores. Next comes the roll ….. you will usually see an “Italian roll” which is about 6-8″ long, a very chewy crust with a heavy interior. Usual toppings are sweet or hot peppers and mozzarella cheese, and “red” sauce (a thick spaghetti or pizza sauce). I prefer mine with sweet peppers (green) and mozzarella cheese only. Another option, which has proved to be very popular in the area where I live, is that the sandwich is made from garlic bread. (The bread appears to be Italian bread, with a light coating of garlic butter.)

    As for the hot dog buns, I can’t wait to try them this weekend. As a kid growing up on the south side of Chicago in the 1950′s, I vividly recall an elderly man pushing a hot dog cart on hot summer evenings in our neighborhood. The bun was definitely steamed, the hot dogs were simmered, and the taste was out of this world!

    While at Midway Airport, I did try the char-grilled hot dog, and while it was tasty, that is NOT a typical Chicago hot dog. Vienna Beef Franks really rock, and, for me anyway, that’s what its got to be. However, I envy your lobster rolls! That’s what’s so great about the USA — regional favorites!

    One little quibble about the original article …. I noticed “Southside Hot Dogs” mentioned somewhere. You simply cannot refer to the Cubs when mentioning a Southside Hot Dog! LOL

    Keep these great recipes and articles coming!

    Ah, you caught me – Susan referred to the Cubs, I added the “Southside” reference, and my bad for not knowing the two clashed! So – should have been White Sox (who are on my radar right now due to you guys getting Kevin Youkilis)? Anyway, I’m cutting and pasting your description – great jumping off place, thanks. PJH

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  13. johngfaulh

    Dear PJ,

    You’re in luck!

    Check out this site.

    Genuine Chicago tid bits are shipped directly from my home city to yours!

    http://www.tastesofchicago.com/

    It’s run by the Lou Malnati’s pizza restaurant group. A leader in Chicago style pizza in my town!

    Try the Portillo’s Italian Beef. A Chicagoan will knock over their mother, a group of nuns or cute animals to get a good Italian Beef!

    They eve have some good Chicago hotdogs available there!

    Now to the kitchen to make the buns for my Chicago dogs!

    PS.

    Ketchup will get you a long face from some places. But I’m a life long Chicagoan, and I love ketchup on dogs! The one thing Chicago is known for is it’s neighborhoods. Each one different from the next. I think there is room for a char dog or a fried one along with ketchup here.

    We might give you grief over it, but we will all agree that we want you to enjoy yourself and enjoy our city when you’re here!

    Have fun!

    Thanks for the great recipe!

    Great site, John – I’m tempted by the Portilio’s Italian beef kit, for sure. At least the ingredients for the Italian beef are pretty universally obtainable – unlike that green relish! And thanks for giving the thumbs-up to ketchup, which I love, but didn’t dare add to the dog… I love Chicago – great architecture (is it the Tribune building with all the pieces of other buildings embedded in its face?), food, and waterfront. What’s not to like? :) PJH

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  14. johngfaulh

    PJ

    I’d love to have you do Italian Beef!

    I’ve attempted it myself and came close. But my problem was i couldn’t slice it thin enough without a slicer. It’s so good it’s almost worth buying one!

    I’ll see if i can scare up some recipes. But as you ‘d imagine most Chicago restaurants hang on to those recipes like gold!

    Now I’m craving one!

    Portillo’s here I come!

    To the Drive Through!!!!

    John F

    True, now that I’ve looked it up – would be tough to slice thin enough. I wonder….. Very rare deli roast beef, very thinly sliced at the deli, briefly steamed over a pan of broth? Or start with shaved beef? Would that be cheating too much? PJH

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  15. Lorraine

    Your dogs look delicious!! Last summer my husband I were in Stockholm, where we came across a food wagon selling “Chicago-Style Hot Dogs.” We rushed up to order, and then I asked if they were beef wieners–”Good Finnish lamb” was the answer. We passed.

    Lorraine, must have been a Chicago-style hot dog from Chicago, Finland – :) PJH

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  16. MugsyEllen

    Looks fabu, & a definite must-try for the sake of my Midwestern-raised husband who raves about them! The only change I’d make to this recipe is (oh, the horror) substituting sesame seeds for poppy seeds on top. Love the flavor of poppy seeds but hate the ‘witch’s teeth’ look they give you after you’ve eaten them ;-)

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  17. gpyrocat

    Oh PJ! My hubby is going to be sooooo happy! He’s originally a Southsider, (my MIL lives there still after almost 65 years) and he’s very picky about his hot dogs. Woe to the child who thinks to put ketchup on that dog! Between your recipe and the great hints on where to get that crazy relish, I think I’ll be able to surprise him with an authentic Chicago dog!

    Your hubby’s going to be lucky dog! (groan..) :) PJH

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  18. jtee4short

    Wow, I’m sorry for you that Oscar Meyer hot dogs were the best you could do for your Chicago Dog. How rural is it out there in Vermont? Could have used a “ball-park” style dog, ala N.Y.C., that dinky Oscar Meyer dog looked lost in your beautiful bun. And I grew up on Oscar Meyer! But Vienna Beef is king in Chicago! Buns looked fantastic, though. And I just have to mention that on the Southside they may put red sauce on their Italian Beefs but I’ve never had one that way and I’ve had beefs from joints as far “south” as Berwyn. (Which is actually a near-west suburb.) The beef is slow-roasted with all this fabulous seasoning and a “jus” is created from the drippings. (I wish I knew how.) You can order your sandwich “wet” which means they’ll dip your bread in the juice. Oh it is so good, but you gotta have good bread. In Chicagoland that is Gonnella or Toscana Italian bread. Portillo’s is a local chain that actually makes a really good beef. I’ve been wanting to try your Italian bread recipes in the hope of getting something similar to the bread used in Chgo.; it seems to have changed over the years. If the delis in Vermont sell thin sliced roast beef, don’t they offer the “jus”? Ours do. It’s funny, the regional differences, isn’t it?

    Hey, I figured Oscar Mayer would be approachable to all of us around the country; if I were going with my favorite, it would be a Maine “road flare” dog, bright red and 8″ long; or a Rhode Island “saugy.” How rural is Vermont? Well, with WAAAAAY under a million people (under 700,000, in fact), let’s say it’s pretty uncrowded. Makes for a lot of nice scenery – cows and the Green Mountains and autumn foliage. The phrase “Vermont deli” is pretty much an oxymoron, so looking for “jus” with your thin-sliced roast beef would no doubt elicit nothing more than confusion. Vermont just isn’t an “Italian beef, wet” kinda place… But I pledge to do my part by figuring out a roll that’ll work with this sandwich. :) PJH

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  19. lindadv

    I made these buns this morning, even though it is eleventy-billion degrees in my house. No AC here but now the clouds are starting to form this afternoon. I can’t wait for supper to have a hot dog for these yummy buns. I had to try one for lunch, really good with egg salad too!

    Bake on! Sultry weather doesn’t stop us, does it? It was about 95°F when I was making cookies the other day… Hope you enjoyed your hot dog – PJH

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  20. "Mike Nolan"

    As someone who also lived in the Chicago area for 10 years and still visits it periodically, these are pretty close. They held up well to the ingredients. (There is no way to eat a Chicago dog without spilling the toppings, though.)

    I would note, though, that there is no egg in Vienna hot dog buns, and they weigh 57 grams each. Mine came out more like 67 grams each. When I make hot dog buns from Moomies recipe, I use 2.25 ounces of dough (64 grams) for a hot dog bun, next time I think that’s what I’ll do with these, giving a yield of 11-12 buns rather than 10. Mine also came out a bit too long, less dough would probably help that as well.

    As to Chicago style Italian beef, there’s a pretty good recipe for it on the Food Network Site from their show The Sandwich King. The challenge is slicing it really thin without a deli slicer. Using shaved beef from the deli is worth trying, the au jus is the real key to Italian beef.

    I use the hoagie rolls recipe that came with my sandwich roll pan, which King Arthur no longer sells. (That recipe is posted in my recipes on the Baking Circle, though.) They don’t hold up quite as well when making a dipped (or wet, depending on whether you’re a south sider or a north sider) sandwich, but other than that they’ve got the right flavor profile.

    Thanks, Mike – I know what a good baker you are, so I appreciate your feedback – especially since you’ve experienced “the real thing” in Chicago. Now, as for the Italian beef – I’ve been emailing with another fellow, and we agreed using shaved steak or deli roast beef (in the absence of owning a meat slicer) would be fine. And that it’s the “jus” that counts. So, thanks for the hint about the hoagie rolls – I’ll see if I can find the recipe somewhere, and “toughen” it up just a bit to hold up to a dip in jus… Can’t wait to get going on what sounds like a very tasty project – with the help of Italian beef lovers out there… PJH

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  21. "Mike Nolan"

    2.25 ounces of dough made a perfect size hot dog bun.

    I also made some very tasty burger buns from this dough for the 4th of July. 2.5 ounces of dough is about right for a quarter pound burger.

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  22. "Debra Lee"

    I am wondering if there is a way I can make these hot dog rolls gluten free? Every recipe I have tried with you guys are fantastic, but trying to stay away from the gluten can be an interesting dance. Do you have any tips or feedback for those of us that want to indulge in your rolls and still walk the gluten free line? Thank you for your help!

    Debra, the best tip I can offer is to make our Gluten-Free High-Fiber Dinner Rolls, but shape them into hotdog buns instead of round rolls. They’ll be a bit crumbly, but heck, these Chicago dogs collapse into a pile of yumminess when you take the first bite anyway… :) PJH

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  23. lillabit2001

    These buns look great, and I’ll bet they would be good with a lot of other fillings too. I’m looking forward to the Italian Beef recipe that you develop.

    I’ve been to Vermont and it’s a lovely state, with lots of rural and green areas–I’d love to go back. We moved to Wyoming a little over a year ago from Iowa, another rural state, but compared to Wyoming, both Vermont and Iowa are pretty crowded. Wyoming has about 500,000 (human) inhabitants, and you could fit about 10 Vermonts into it!

    WOW, now THAT’S rural! I knew Wyoming was big, but had no clue it had so few residents. I guess you’re enjoying the wide open spaces, eh? Hope you get a chance to bake and enjoy buns – PJH

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  24. jmanni

    Wow. Just finished two of these for dinner. I’ve never had a Chicago hot dog so I can’t judge the authenticity, but I can judge the absolute deliciousness! The rolls were out of this world. Thank you so much for the clear, easy to follow directions.

    And thanks for sharing your enthusiasm here. Glad you liked the hotdogs! PJH

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  25. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - SENAC RJ - BRAZIL

    Hot-dog was always one of prefered sandwiches in Brazil. But we really can´t find a superb hot-dog, with primorous bread like this bread, KAF teach us here. One of best breads i ever made in my life. Puffy, excelent structure to hold all the fillings. This bread is really what makes the diference. And here in Brazil, due to Government prohibitions to use poppy seeds on foods, we adopted some Kümmel seeds largely consumed by germanic people from here in my city Petrópolis. I added some wheat fibers to the dough. The bread and all the results? A ´must `!!!!
    P.J. you really did a gooood job!! As always!
    So glad you enjoyed this Ricardo, and that you tailored it to make it your own. ~ MaryJane

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  26. salmeitz

    It was finally cool enough here in Mid-Michigan to turn on the oven and try the bun recipe. Excellent! I made them to go with sweet Italian sausage links with grilled peppers, onions and mushrooms, so I didn’t care about Chicago authenticity. Sprinkled some with sesame seeds, some with your Artisan Bread topping seed mixture. I hope to never eat a store-bought bun again!

    Love grilled sausages. And brats, and dogs, and turkey dogs, and… And when the roll is as good as its stuffing, you’ve hit a home run, right? Thanks for your enthusiastic feedback – PJH

    Reply
  27. pjmaas

    When I was in high school back in the ’70′s, I worked at a place in Bloomingdale, IL (NW suburban Chicago) called Mr. Beef. It’s gone now, though there is another place in Chicago with the same name. I’m not sure if it’s a new manifestation of the original business or not. But at the original Mr. Beef, I watched our day cook, Mrs. Keller, prepare pounds and pounds of Italian Beef every week. It was exceedingly simple! I believe they used beef brisket. A dry rub was mixed, consisting of salt, pepper, onion powder, chopped fresh garlic, basil and oregano, which was very liberally applied to the roasts. I’m not sure of the quantities, as Mrs. Keller would mix enough to do about 30 briskets at a time. But anyway, once the briskets were rubbed, they would be placed in shallow roasting pans with an inch or so of water in the bottom, and were then slow roasted at 325 until the meat registered medium rare on a meat thermometer (several hours). When the meat was done, the roasts were removed to large trays to cool. The pan drippings were cooled as well. When everything had reached room temperature, the roasts were placed in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The pan drippings were strained and chilled overnight as well. Once the roasts were chilled hard and solid, they could be trimmed of excess fat and sliced easily into paper thin slices. A meat slicer is essential! The chilled pan drippings were used to make the jus. The fat separates out and solidifies on the surface. This was discarded. The remaining pan drippings were diluted by 50% with water and brought to a boil on the stove, and were then poured into large pans of the sliced beef. The hot juices proceeded to ‘cook’ the meat further as they sat in the steam table for serving. As for the bread, Mr. Beef’s owner also owned a bakery directly across the parking lot (The Yamo Italian Bakery) which provided long, freshly baked baguettes for the restaurant every day. These were sliced into 6 inch rolls for sandwiches. People would drive for miles to eat the beef sandwiches at Mr. Beef. Delicious!! The bonus – every night you worked, you could take home a fresh loaf of bread from the bakery, often right out of the oven. My mother would wait up for me, and I’d find her sitting at the kitchen table with a knife and the butter dish. Often, we’d sit and eat the whole loaf before we went to bed! Anyway, that’s what I remember about how the Italian Beef was made at Mr. Beef.
    Forget driving for miles, I’d invent a time machine and go back for this, it sounds so good! Thanks for sharing! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  28. rhobinlee

    Made these yesterday for a dog and burger party. Now hubby says no more store bought buns. (Uh-oh!) Very good. Thanks for the recipe

    Good for you hot dog roll baker! When a recipe meets the hubby-seal-of-approval, then it’s a keeper as well ;) Happy Baking – Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  29. "Mike Nolan"

    A follow up on the Italian Beef idea to use pre-cooked beef.

    Here’s what I tried today, it was pretty close to Chicago Italian Beef, enough so that I’ll be making it again.

    1 pound thin sliced rare roast beef (from the deli)
    4 cups beef stock
    1 medium onion
    1 tablespoon oil
    1/2 cup dry red wine
    2 tablespoons Italian Spice
    1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.
    Optional: 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or 2 cloves of garlic)

    Roughly chop the onion and mash the garlic cloves if using fresh garlic. Sautee the onion in the oil until transparent. If using fresh garlic, add it shortly before the onions are transparent.

    Add the wine, beef stock, Italian spice, garlic powder (if using) and red pepper flakes, and simmer for at least 2 hours.

    Strain to remove the pieces of onion, and add the rare roast beef. Simmer for 2-4 hours, then serve on hoagie buns.

    For a ‘wet’ or dipped Italian beef sandwich, dip the bun in the juice to get it soaked (or ladle on generous amounts of juice.)

    Best served with peppers. Some like sweet peppers simmered in beef stock or the liquid from this recipe for 1/2 hour, others like sport peppers, depending upon your preferences. I like it with both.

    If you don’t have any Italian Spice, mix together 2 tablespoons of each of the following dried spices: basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary and fennel. Toast in a 350 degree oven for a couple of minutes, then grind into a powder with a spice grinder.
    Thanks so much for sharing again Mike. but now I’m hungry, and my 4 stale ‘Nilla wafers just aren’t going to cut it. :( ~ MaryJane

    Hey, thanks, Mike. I’m adding this to my Italian Beef file… PJH

    Reply
  30. Rebel1001

    If you want to make your own neon green relish use 4 tablespoons store brought relish add 1 drop blue food colouring and 5 drops yellow Dave Canada.

    Reply
  31. Macbabe

    I’m a Chicagoan born and bred. I’ve lived here all of my 55 years.
    Here’s my take on great Chicago eats and where to find them: hot dogs from Devil Dogs on the NORTHside of the city, under the L; not all Chicagoans are into deep dish pizza – for great thin crust pizza that is NOT anything like New York’s. go to Home Run Inn (a name that pays tribute to Cubs great Ron Santo). There you will find a heavenly thin crust with just the right amount if cheese and toppings. They also have a unique dish – pizzsagna, a combination of pizza and lasagna (really delicious!). They have several locations but the original is at 31st and Pulaski Road in Chicago.

    As for Italian beef sandwiches, Buona Beef (locations in the city and suburbs) has a really tasty one! Another great place in the hospital complex on the west side of Chicago is Lulu’s Italian Beef on Ogden and Taylor avenues in Chicago. Anybody can slice beef paper thin, it’s the Italian gravy that makes each beef sandwich different! By the way, the beef LIVES in the gravy – no steaming. I like combos (Italian beef and Italian sausage) on a bun that’s been dipped in the gravy (this is called ordering the sandwich ‘juicy’) and some hot giardinaria (sp?) which is a spicy bottled olive salad. Usually there’s tiny hot green peppers, green olives and carrots in a vinegar brine. Some salads have tiny bits of cauliflower as well. And I ‘never’ add cheese of any kind! This is a meat and bread party! ;-)). Also, every good Italian beef I know of uses Gonnella bread. They make a tender/chewy Italian bread that’s very sturdy, has a great flavor profile and won’t fall apart even when juicy!

    I hope you make it back here and can enjoy some these great eats yourself! Just a reminder that this is only MY opinion – your mileage may vary,

    I hope to be back in Chicago next spring, and am definitely printing out your advice here. I feel an “Italian beef crawl” coming on… Thanks! :) PJH

    Reply
  32. Jon B.

    Hi PJ. Nice blog and bun recipe. I’ve been looking up recipes. As a 61 year resident of Chicago I can tell you that it must be a Vienna dog, most assuredly not Oscar Mayer. And it’s a sacrilege to put ketchup on a Chicago style hot dog. You can make a garbage dog and put whatever you want on it, I guess. :-) You can get a Chicago hot dog kit from Vienna. It’s $39.95 for 16 dogs and includes everything but the onion, tomato and pickle.

    http://www.viennabeef.com/chicago-style-hot-dog-kit?page_id=30

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Jon, thanks for this information – good to know you can actually do Chicago dogs the right way, even when you’re WAY out of the Loop! :) PJH

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