Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fancy Hot Dogs and Duck Fat Fries

Oh yes...you read that right: strips of potato fried in duck fat.

**NOTE: I didn't take all the pictures in this post...I have labeled the pictures taken by other people and linked those pictures to each person's Flickr account.

People, I love food, I love food, I love food. I used to read Slash Food and Serious Eats religiously every day, multiple times a day. Since the list of blogs I read has gotten stupid huge something had to go, so now I use these blogs for reference purposes only, but still...I love food.

Which brings me to Hot Doug's. And the fact that I really love variety and new riffs on classics. Most of the time I would rather have 2 bites of 5 different things than one big serving of one thing, even if I like that one thing a while lot (mom's macaroni and cheese, Paula Deen's corn casserole (which we double by the way, except the butter...1 stick is plenty. AND I recently replaced the sour cream with fat free Greek yogurt to great success), etc).

I think I first read about Hot Doug's, the self-described "Sausage Superstore and Encased Meat Emporium", on the Chow message boards (GREAT resource for finding good food) while doing research for our 2008 Chicago vacation. I am absolutely driven to find the best unique food while in new places, and Hot Doug's sounded like it fit the bill.

So we went on our first day in Chicago, exhausted as we were (we tend to procrastinate on the packing until we are forced to stay up shoving things in bags the entire night before we leave). We figured out the bus map, rode the bus and walked the block with scratchy eyes and hurting feet, and we waited in the HOUR AND A HALF line. And people, it was WORTH it. We went back the day before we left town...we do NOT repeat places when in a new city because that means I miss an opportunity to try something new, so now you know Hot Doug's is truly special. Hot Doug's has great regular hotdogs that most would find pretty exotic. But then you come to Today's Specials.

For some reason one morning recently I found myself reminiscing about my time at Hot Doug's and thought I'd check out the day's specials. Oh, my heart aches (because I'm sad, not because its clogged with duck fat or anything), to read the list of "encased meats" I'm missing:


Today: February 6, 2009
The Game of the Week:
Spicy Smoked Alligator Sausage with Creole Mayonnaise and St. Pete's Blue Cheese

The Erick Lee Purkhiser (Today's Celebrity Sausage)
Gyros Sausage with Spinach Raita, Kalamata Olives and Haloumi Cheese

Other Specials

Saucisson Alsacienne: Bacon Sausage with Creme Fraiche, Caramelized Onions and Pepper Affinois Cheese

Smoked Applewurst Sausage with Lime-Ancho Mayonnaise and Cotija Cheese

Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Sauce Moutarde, Foie Gras Mousse and Sel Gris

The Atomic Bomb: Spicy Pork Sausage with Sweet & Spicy Curry Mustard and Jalapeno-Havarti Cheese

Smoked Mexican Chorizo with Tomatillo Mole and Habanero-Jack Cheese

Jack Daniels and Fennel Smoked Pork Sausage with Lemon-Pepper Dijonnaise and Marieke Fenugreek Cheese

The Teuben: Corned Beef Sausage with Russian Dressing, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese

Cherry Pork Sausage with Spicy Citrus-Apple Salsa and Chaubier Cheese

Smoked Cajun Pork Sausage with Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise and Smoked Gouda Cheese


Maybe to you these sound weird or gross...to me these sound exciting and compelling and like I MUST TRY SOME OF THESE!!!

My limit is 2 hot dogs at a time, and at first I thought the Game of the Week would definitely be one of them. Words like "Smoked alligator", "creole mayo" and "blue cheese" make my heart go pitter patter. I've never had alligator, and I LOVE trying things I've never had; creole mayo fits the bill as a "riff on a classic"; and blue cheese makes everything better.

(Alligator Dog Photo credit: dwfree1967)
(Mmm, look at that St. Pete's Blue Cheese...yes, I would like some of that)
But then I saw the Erick Lee Purkhiser (sadly found no picture of this one), the Saucisson Alsacienne...
(Saucisson Dog Photo credit: emyduck)

...the Foie Gras and Sauterne Duck Sausage (though the tree hugger in me is pretty opposed to the idea of foie gras...get ready for some gross video if you google that one)...

(Foie Gras Dog Photo credit: santheo)
(Are you kidding me...I am drooling right this very minute)

... the Jack Daniels and Fennel Smoked Pork Sausage...

(Jack Daniels Dog Photo credit: ehfisher)
...the Teuben...
(Teuben Photo credit: ::bianca::)

and the Cherry Pork Sausage (no pic of this one either)...what is that, 7 total?!?! Oh nooooo, what to do??
Hubs probably wouldn't be much help because he loves the Italian Sausage dog. Sometimes he'll accompany me into the food frontier and have me order 2 dishes I'm interested in so we can share them, but sometimes he's the guy who eats vanilla ice cream (as in by itself...nothing on it...*shaking head) and orders the Italian Sausage dog that you can get at any of a number of other places.
But that makes him happy which makes me happy, so I don't give him a hard time, I just silently curse the fact that 7 must be whittled down to 2.

So what'll it be? As hard as it is to leave any behind I think I'll go with the Foie Gras (if I'm gonna be party to torturing a duck just this once, I guess I'll make it part of a hot dog-nirvana experience) and the Teuben...or the Jack Daniels/Fennel Smoked Pork? Honestly I'd probably ask Doug or whoever was taking orders their favorite between those last two. Food people can largely be trusted to steer you in the right direction, so don't be afraid to ask the worker's opinion.

And speaking of, its Hot Doug himself!

(Hubs said he didn't think Doug was that hot :D ) Thanks, Doug, for taking the time to take this picture with me! There was a LINE of people at the counter, and yet he was so nice to smile for a picture. (I hadn't slept in approximately 24 hours by the time this picture was taken. And my contacts dry out when I fly so I stuck with the had-em-since-8th-grade glasses...nice.)

Care to see what we enjoyed during our two trips to Hot Doug's??

Brandy-Soaked Portuguese Chorizo with Saffron Rouille and Queso Arico Cheese

Smoked Shrimp and Pork Sausage with Cajun Tarter Sauce and Blue Cheese

Bacon-Infused Duck Sausage with Morello Cherry Mustard and Venison-Cognac Pate

Bell Pepper Wild Boar Sausage with anchovy goat's milk butter and Saint Rocco cheese

Oh, and don't forget the duck fat fries on Friday and Saturday...I don't need my usual Heinz 57 sauce for dipping, and I'll even eat the non-crispy ones. These things are WORTH EVERY CALORIE (I say that having no idea just how many of those are in these babies).