Joshua Sharkey, co-owner and chef of Bark Hot Dogs, serves up mouthwatering artisinal hot dogs (which he bastes in “Bark butter” — a combo of smoked lard, butter and sea salt). He knows that condiments are a game-changer — all toppings and sides are made in-house with local ingredients. Here, he shows us how to jazz up the standard dog. Your grill just got hotter.
Toast the bun!
“One of the biggest problems you encounter with your hot dog is a soggy bun. There should be a contrast of texture between the bread and the sausage so that you can taste and appreciate both. By toasting the bun (we toast ours with a little butter), you can create a nice crust on the outside of the bread that keeps it moist with a nice bite.”
Some meat for your meat
“Hot dogs are a great medium for lots of different flavors, and we find that adding a little extra meat to your already-meaty experience makes for an amped-up version of the classic hot dog. We like to add braised meat or porky baked beans on top with a little heat — whether from mustard or horseradish or a spicy sauce.”
Go crazy with seasonings
“If you plan to make a topping from scratch, make sure it’s heavily seasoned. When tasting something such as baked beans, chili or sweet tomato-laced onions, they should taste a little too strong on their own. If these condiments don’t have enough acid, sweetness and salt, the hot dog and bun will soak up a lot of that flavor, yielding a flat-tasting condiment. Vinegar and sugar are your best friends.”
Cook to perfection
“Part of a great hot dog experience is, of course, the ‘snap.’ If you are working with a quality hot dog, it will most likely have a natural casing. This is the best type of dog for that quintessential snap — but you have to treat it carefully. We like to cook our dogs very slowly at first, with a little bit of canola oil to soften the casings. Afterward, just before we serve them, we cook them on high heat to get a nice, crispy outer surface.”
Slaw: Not just a side
“I’m from the south, and down there we like slaw on everything — including our hot dogs. This is why at Bark we thought it only natural to have a hot dog topped with our pickle juice-laced coleslaw. It’s tangy [and] savory and has a nice bite to it to contrast the soft bun and snappy dog.”