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Condiments for hot dogs

Don't laugh.

I'm here in Rome planning a cookout Sunday for a group of mainly Italian friends expecting an American experience. I have decent potato salad and cole slaw in my repertoire. We'll grill hamburgers and probably cook spareribs in the oven. I have good hot dogs, and even buns, i just brought back from New York. I have mustard and ketchup but I forgot to buy relish, and I'll never find it here in the time available (if ever). I will probably be able to buy sauerkraut (from Alto Adige), but, much as I love it, it seems a little more New York than the rest of the menu. Or does it? What else could I serve as an alternative?

Many thanks!

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  1. Do you have celery salt? That goes on Chicago style dogs, and coleslaw tops a lot of dogs I've had in NC.

    Don't laugh at this question---are pickles available? Minced, you could have an ersatz relish. Don't forget chopped onion.

    1. Another popular NYC hot dog condiment is this cooked onion relish, served warm: http://www.mrfood.com/Relishes-Sauces...

      And yes, sauerkraut is a must for many New Yorkers, myself included. Sorry 'bout the pickle relish.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcsheridan

        That's my jam...cooked onions and sauerkraut. Nom nom.

      2. I'd be more inclined to have sauerkraut on a larger sausage like bratwurst or kielbasa, but I wouldn't automatically discount the idea on a hot dog. From what you already have on hand, cole slaw topped hot dogs with bacon or chili would be an ultimate treat. Or if you have access to pickled cucumbers, you can always make a quick relish to offer your friends.

        1. Can you get some sort of pickled peppers, or even a giardiniera? If you chop either of those up a bit, they'll be even better than relish.

          Some cheese can be nice on a hotdog, especially if it's a bit sharp. If you melt it all on there, it tones down the bite of the sauerkraut, too.

          1. kraut is a must in PA too, I think its pretty "American"

            In TX (and presumably elsewhere) "coney dogs" are popular - chili (no beans) cheese and onions although I never recall actually eating them this way at Coney Island or anywhere else growing up in NY.

            what's more "American" than taking meat, covering it in more meat and then fake cheese - so wrong but I do love a coney dog. Do they even have "Whiz" in Italy?

            1. Oh don't deprive them trying a bite or two with sauerkraut

              1. Sauerkraut is a ubiquitous hot dog condiment. You could make it more special by cooking/baking it with some smothered onions and chutney mixed into it.

                For relish, mince (or pulse in food processor) some pickles, onion, and bell pepper. Use some of the pickle brine. Cook the mixture until the vegetables soften. If the pickles aren't sweet you'll need to sweeten the relish a bit. I see that my jar of organic relish includes gum arabic, for a bit of viscosity. You might try stirring a bit of cornstarch into a little brine, then mixing into the relish and simmering until thickened before cooling.

                Not so much for hot dogs, but to top burgers, it would be nice to make smothered onions with red and green bell peppers, served warm/hot.

                1. Do you know anyone who works at a local military base (Aviano?) ? The base exchange may have relish.

                  1. If you really want to humiliate the US you could make that canned pineapple, mandarin orange, marshmallow abomination called "Ambrosia Salad" Very scary and very retro. Or you could do those 7 layer bars that start off with graham cracker crust and end with condensed milk.

                    1. I think you are good with ketchup, mustard, kraut, and add some chopped fresh onion.

                      8 Replies
                        1. re: drongo

                          I wouldn't use it myself but Europeans are weird. They love that shit. :-)

                          1. re: drongo

                            Not for the hot dogs! For the burgers.

                            1. re: mcsheridan

                              I wouldn't use it there either. I worked in an office with a bunch Balkan people and they all put ketchup on pizza. It made me angry.

                            2. re: drongo

                              Instead of ketchup, I'd offer homemade BBQ sauce. BBQ hot dawgs are sorely underrated. If the OP wishes, I'll give her my recipe for some truly legendary Texas BBQ sauce. If not, that's okay too.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                I'd love to have the recipe for future reference. I think it's too late now, but we do have less-than-legendary bbq sauce to work with. Brush the dogs with it as they grill? Split the dogs or leave them in the round?

                                1. re: mbfant

                                  I wouldn't brush anything on the dogs; let them grill in their pristine glory.

                                  1. re: mbfant

                                    I like to brush on while grilling. You get a nice caramelized char.

                            3. Raw onion.....Want eat a dog without it.

                                1. You're saying you just brought "good hot dogs and even buns" from NY to Rome?
                                  Didn't know Italy allowed the import of hot dogs from the US. Learn something every day.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                    You can bring practically anything into Italy. The problem is getting the Italians to eat it.

                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                      They worry about meat, not hot dogs.

                                    2. Thank you all.

                                      I can work with chopped onion. I have a jar of dill pickles, but I don't want to mess with them trying to make relish. I have no access to US or international commissaries and haven't time to go looking in the few international shops that might conceivably have sweet pickles. I will definitely make the pushcart onion sauce -- that's a find. Smothered onions are a good idea too. No CheezWhiz, no bacon. There are squares of cheese ("sottillette"), not American of course, but I don't feel like arguing with the Italians and defending cheese product. Giardiniera we have, of course, but isn't it too tart? I'm also making guacamole (brought Haas avocados from NY, which they had already traveled a long way to reach), deviled eggs, and some sort of corn and pepper salad. We'll have fresh fruit for dessert, but also homemade pecan pie. Pecans are one thing the Italians can't compete with.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: mbfant

                                        Personally, if I'm trying to give Italians an American food experience, I wouldn't put giardinera (very Italian) anywhere near hot dogs or hamburgers; wrong taste profile entirely.

                                        Deviled eggs *and* Pecan Pie? Fabulous!

                                        1. re: mcsheridan

                                          Yes, that's true about giardiniera. Actually I looked for it at the supermarket this morning and they didn't have it (small supermarket), and, come to think of it, I see it more in New York than here.

                                          Deviled eggs just like granny used to make. AND pecan pie. Italians don't have pecans and don't know them. They call them noci (walnuts) americani. But it's time they learned that we, too, have products to be proud of.

                                        2. re: mbfant

                                          Some refridgerator quick pickles would be a nice addition, just something to offset the coleslaw/hot dog combo with bright acid.
                                          Or just slice your dill pickles into spears to have along side...

                                        3. I'm partial to chili on mine. It could be fun to post the proper etiquette. This is from the Hot Dog and Sausage Council

                                          Hot Dog Etiquette
                                          Everyday guidance for eating America's sacred food

                                          To see a video illustrating the dos and don'ts, go to www.youtube.com/hotdogcouncil.

                                          Put hot dog toppings between the hot dog and the bun. Always "dress the dog," not the bun.

                                          Condiments should be applied in the following order: wet condiments like mustard and chili are applied first, followed by chunky condiments like relish, onions and sauerkraut, followed by shredded cheese, followed by spices, like celery salt or pepper.

                                          Serve sesame seed, poppy seed and plain buns with hot dogs. Sun-dried tomato buns or basil buns are considered gauche with franks.

                                          Use a cloth napkin to wipe your mouth when eating a hot dog. Paper is always preferable.

                                          Eat hot dogs on buns with your hands. Utensils should not touch hot dogs on buns.

                                          Use paper plates to serve hot dogs. Every day dishes are acceptable; china is a no-no.

                                          Take more than five bites to finish a hot dog. For foot-long wiener, seven bites are acceptable.

                                          Leave bits of bun on your plate. Eat it all.

                                          Fresh herbs on the same plate with hot dogs over-do the presentation

                                          Use ketchup on your hot dog after the age of 18.
                                          Mustard, relish, onions, cheese and chili are acceptable.

                                          Condiments remaining on the fingers after eating a hot dog should be licked away, not washed.

                                          Use multi-colored toothpicks to serve cocktail wieners. Cocktail forks are in poor taste.

                                          Send a thank you note following a hot dog barbecue. It would not be in keeping with the unpretentious nature of hot dogs.

                                          Bring wine to a hot dog barbecue. Beer, soda, lemonade and iced tea are preferable.

                                          Ever think there is a wrong time to serve hot dogs.

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: mike0989

                                            I love this and will keep it in mind tomorrow when they ask me all these questions.

                                            1. re: mike0989

                                              It's pretty hard to take that list seriously.
                                              The number one hot dog rule is to dress it and eat it any way you most enjoy it.

                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                I violate "Rule" #1 regularly. I always put the pickle relish in the bun before the hot dog; mustard next, then finally, if I have it, well-drained sauerkraut.

                                                The other violation is when I'm having what I call my "cardiac dog": sliced cheese on either side of toasted bun, add well-cooked hot dog, slide crisp bacon alongside. I want that cheese to melt!

                                                1. re: The Professor

                                                  Strangely, that is not a concept too familiar to Italians in the food department. Call it rules or call it tradition, but I expect to be asked what is the correct/usual/normal/customary/traditional procedure, and I'm delighted to have some guidelines spelled out, even with a grain of salt (apologies for the mixed metaphor). As it happens, most of the list strikes me as definitely what I view as normal.

                                                2. re: mike0989

                                                  Excellent edicts. My only quibble is that a sweet blush wine is fine with dawgs.

                                                3. I'm liking the chili on top. That broadens it up a bit out of NYC.

                                                  How about something simple like choc chip cookies or brownies or rice krispie treats for dessert?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: jbsiegel

                                                    I might be inspired to make brownies but I'm already making pecan pie. We bought a small Sicilian watermelon this morning.

                                                  2. Are you grilling or boiling the dogs?....In NYC we do have the "dirty water dog" put out a pot of dirty water dogs, if you grill them they must have a nice char on the outside. If they are boiled, consider me a conservative with mustard and onions, if grilled, cheese and mustard...You might also want to steam them as in Chicago, and you will have a bloated pup, add, mustard, chili and chopped onions...

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: PHREDDY

                                                      I wonder if Italian folk would confuse a hot dog with a sandwich?
                                                      mbfant, maybe ask your impartial, Roman friends if a hot dog is a sandwich. Might help us in this thread;

                                                      1. re: porker

                                                        They might call it a Panini if the bun is toasted....just thinkin...

                                                        1. re: PHREDDY

                                                          They might well call it a panino, never a panini, that being plural. There is no need to toast the bun to make it a panino. A panino is generically any sandwich, though most sandwiches are known by the kind of bread they're made on. A panino is also a bread roll, and thus technically a sandwich is a panino imbottito, filled roll, though few bother to call them that. TMI, I know.

                                                      2. re: PHREDDY

                                                        Grilling. It's a cookout. I'm a Manhattan dirty-water-dog girl myself (mustard and sauerkraut for me), but everything in its place. I have made the onion sauce, so we'll see how that goes over.

                                                        1. re: mbfant

                                                          Can't wait to hear your post-party report!

                                                          1. re: mbfant

                                                            "I'm a...dirty-water-dog girl myself"
                                                            That certainly has a ring to it!

                                                            1. re: mbfant

                                                              Actually grilling, eh? You NEED BBQ sauce.

                                                          2. I make a relish out of a red onion, kimchi and mustard. It's really nice.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: YAYME

                                                              Kimchi! I'm in Rome! I have red onion and mustard, however.

                                                              1. re: mbfant

                                                                Go here!!!
                                                                비원(BI WON)
                                                                Via Conte Verde 62, 00185 Roma
                                                                Three-minute walk from Vittorio Emanuele station

                                                                [heavy cut'n'paste follows].

                                                                Exposing locals to the charm of Korean culture
                                                                BI WON, run by the chairperson of the Korean Community Association in Italy, is one of Rome’s longest-running Korean restaurants. It recently launched a cooking course teaching young Italians recipes and techniques from Korean cuisine, enticing Romans with the charms of Korean cooking. The interior is split into two halls; the one nearer to the entrance is a more casual space for enjoying à la carte options, whereas the rear hall is furnished with tables with built-in grills for Korean barbecue. Weather permitting, customers can enjoy a relaxed meal in the garden.

                                                            2. Well, the cookout is over and done with and I think was a success. My ribs (cooked in the oven) were totally delish. We had procured the meat from our very special pork butcher -- very succulent and meaty ribs. I turned and basted every 15-20 minutes for about three hours while making the guacamole, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, etc. The "etc." was actually just canned corn with a little diced tomato and green pepper. I also made green beans with extra virgin olive oil and lemon, Italian style, just in case. The designer ketchup we had bought at Union Square market and schlepped back was definitely appreciated. They hardly touched the pushcart onion sauce on the other hand (so now what do I do with it?). They did well with the dill pickles. Some ate sauerkraut. They ate the deviled eggs but we had some left over. One of the teenagers put mustard on his hot dog and then asked me if he could put ketchup too. Since he was a minor, I said yes. :-) One of the guests was an Italian food anthropologist, who seemed thrilled with everything -- I guess it's important to remember that what's normal for one group food is fodder for anthropologists of another group.

                                                              My esteemed colleague, an Italian food historian, observed that since indeed, as I had said, all the food served could be eaten in any order and practically any combination, it explained why Americans were inclined to eat pasta and salad together, a practice which in Italy can practically get you thrown in jail.

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: mbfant

                                                                Nice to hear it all went so well. The pushcart onion sauce can be frozen, or it can hold in the fridge about week (if you have any more hot dogs handy.)

                                                                Leftover deviled eggs? Now *there's* something you'll never see Stateside!

                                                                The teen was onto something, as here in NJ, both condiments get put on the infamous "Italian Hot Dog" that also contains onions, peppers, and fried potatoes.

                                                                I wonder if the anthropologist will be citing your gathering in an article or lecture any time soon. :)

                                                                1. re: mbfant

                                                                  sounds like fun - love the thought about salad and pasta - American irreverence has its upsides and downsides I guess - its great to think of something so simple as a hamburgers and hotdogs being a basis for cultural study but it probably does say a lot about Us (Americans) and out approach to food.

                                                                  1. re: mbfant

                                                                    WTF Italians? I've never seen deviled eggs left over after a party lol.

                                                                    1. re: mbfant

                                                                      I'd cook that pushcart sauce down to a glaze with chicken thighs... to create a pseudo-curry type thing[y].

                                                                    2. I recently tried some well ripened kimchee on a hotdog...it was pretty amazing.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: The Professor

                                                                        Try it with kimchi mayo and seaweed!

                                                                      2. Bobby Flay's relish is killer. I know it's too late but what the heck, save it for next time.

                                                                        1. Make sure they understand that to Americans, putting ketchup on hotdogs is like putting cheese on shrimps.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: emu48

                                                                            Both of which I would happily eat (and yes...I'm American!)