Classic Chicago Dogs: It’s what’s for dinner

We try to plan our meals during the week to keep up with our busy schedules — we had homemade spaghetti sauce last night (I adore our Vitamix), and grilled Alaskan King salmon the night before (our well-seasoned Lodge cast iron skillet is my No. 2 favorite cooking utensil next to the Vitamix).

Tonight we’re going to have classic Chicago Dogs. For the Cubs, Game 5 tonight is simple: Score some runs.

As for the Chicago Dog, I ordered them from Vienna Beef in Chicago earlier in the week. The box arrived with the familiar “V” logo stamped on the side. It included a card that read: “Thank You for your purchase from Vienna Beef. Your order was packed by J.N.” — a classic touch.

The box included Vienna Beef dogs, poppy seed buns (S. Rosen’s), a jar of Vienna sport peppers, a jar of bright green relish (of course), a jar of yellow mustard and a jar of celery salt. I had celery salt in the cupboard — for Bloody Mary’s during football weekends — as well as Dijon mustard. But I lacked the bright yellow mustard that goes with a Chicago Dog.

Chicago Dogs also are “dragged through the garden,” so I supplied the tomatoes, onions and pickle spears.

The “ritual” goes like this: Brush outsides of poppy seed buns with butter; bake, split sides down, until warm, about 5 minutes; warm hot dogs in boiling water for 5 minutes; transfer to buns; arrange a pickle on 1 side of each hot dog and 2 tomatoes on the other side; squirt mustard over each in a zigzag; top with a dollop of relish; divide onion among hot dog; top each with a sport pepper. Sprinkle with celery salt. No ketchup! (I grill them).

We have enough dogs and fixings left for a Cubs-Dodger series, which is what I’m hoping for. A few years ago, we had Dodger Dogs — also a tradition. You can get the extra-long ones from Taylor’s Market in Sacramento.

“Farmer John introduced the World Famous Dodger Dogs in 1966, this wiener is now served in most stadiums in Southern California,” the hot dog maker reports.

Here’s a video on the ritual of building a Chicago Dog (a variation on the other recipe), and a review of hot dog stands in Chicago.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

17 thoughts on “Classic Chicago Dogs: It’s what’s for dinner”

  1. Making me hungry!
    We were just back in the western burbs and in the city a few weeks ago, and of course had to hit up what was left of the old neighborhood’s restaurants and the Italian food. Good stuff but not exactly healthy eating. I loved the Italian beef sandwiches from those mom & pop places that were mostly walk-up window ordering, most have closed down around where I grew up.

    1. Yes, Portillos is mentioned in that video. Thanks for sharing your experiences. I consider the hot dog healthy because it is “dragged through the garden” with tomatoes, pickles and onions. lol.

      1. My nephew took us for a drive down into the city and drove north up along Lake Shore Drive and back out North Ave, went right past Johnnies, I noticed the line of people out the building and my nephew mentioned that it was nothing compared to how busy it usually is. Great Italian beef sandwiches are worth the wait, in my opinion.

      2. They move through the line so quickly that you don;t even notice it. That is what comes from basically doing only three things perfectly–Italian Beefs, Combos with Italian Sausage, and Italian Ice. 🙂

    1. Now Pruett, the self-styled Chicagoan, has painted himself into a corner: He either is ignorant or he hasn’t eaten a Chicago-style hot dog for nearly a decade. Harvey is no more Chicago than Miami of Ohio is Ohio State. Let it go, bro. lol.

  2. Okay Jeff,
    I’ll see you that entree tonight and raise you by creating my fab, special occasion Chicken ala King, in pastry shells with chives and peas in cream sauce, topped with toasted slivered almonds.
    We will have a side of, heart healthy, “mandolin thin”, green and purple, pineapple sweetened cabbage slaw, and a crisp blanc for quaffing.

  3. Sounds awesome. I would enjoy that with a glass of Avanguardia Cristallo. Then I would go to Mt. Vernon and jump in the pool!

  4. One day that scenario will come to pass, Jeff.
    Time to perfect that cannonball for next summer.!
    The roof is going up this weekend, just in time for the change in weather.
    It has been a long row to hoe given regulations and delays, but this house will be the energy queen of our neighborhood, thanks to our fabulous local crew.
    Folks, if you are restoring heritage homes or buildings, please hire local contractors.
    The skill, the love and the pride shows in their work.

  5. Well said. Our friends Gary and Christina Smith hired Carl Van Son to renovate their downtown Grass Valley wine tasting room, a Gold Rush-era building that used to be Bunce’s Place. Carl once joked to me it was a lot of work compared with the custom homes he had been cranking out in the “go-go” days. But the skill and pride that you referred to showed through. And it’s a beautiful building, like your Powell House. But to change the subject, I look forward to the cannon ball in the pool at Mt. Vernon. lol.

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