The “Dog Days” Are Over

Food Blog WatermarkedHave you noticed the trend around artisanal hot dogs lately? Dining establishments across the country are taking their dishes to whole new levels. I went to a restaurant a few months ago that served the hot dog on the left.

Did you just fall in love?

A hot dog consists of finely chopped meat. It is considered to be an emulsion because it contains fat particles that are dispersed in water. The components of hot dogs are the same as those of bologna, but bologna is usually served cold and raw. Many hot dogs have preservatives and binders to conserve the meat in its proper form (1).

It is still unknown where the hot dog originated. Some believe that it was created in Frankfurt, Germany in the 15th century where it was called the “frankfurter.” Austrians claimed that the hot dog stemmed from Vienna’s “wiener (2)” (Wien is the German word for Vienna).

No matter where it was founded, the hot dog was probably adapted from various types of European sausageSausage history dates back to 8th century BC, as Homer recalls blood sausage in The Odyssey.

Sausages were originally introduced as a way to save extra animal parts due to the absence of refrigeration. Butchers ground up the animal remains, mixed them with spices, and stuffed the items into casings (3).

Natural casings were initially made from the intestines of sheep. Today, these natural casings can also come from the intestines of pork. Artificial casings are also currently used, and include edible collage or inedible plastic (1).

Sausages are one of the oldest forms of cured meats. Curing meat is a preservation method that’s accomplished by salting, drying, or smoking. When sausage-making first began, butchers would preserve their items by exposing them to heavy smoking and high salting. The invention of the refrigerator has allowed sausages to become more flavorful, since less smoking and salting is needed to increase the shelf life. Sausages have also become more up-scale. Specific animal parts are now the main composition, rather than the leftovers.

Many sausages currently on the market are raw-fermented. This same concept is applied to making sour cream, yogurt, and kefir. Traditionally, processors relied on bacteria found in the meat to ferment their product. Many companies now add their own cultures to the meat to promote fermentation. Meat fermentation requires little energy, and it is used as a preservation method because it increases the acidity of the meat while achieving specific flavor, color, and texture profiles.

The sausages’ casings serve as barriers to water and light so that the cultures (bacteria) can feast on the sugar found in the spice blends. The byproduct of this process is lactic acid, which increases the acidity of the meat and produces a tangy flavor. A pH (acidity value) between 4 and 5 is low enough to make the product biologically safe, which is why you can consume this type of sausage in the raw form. The sausage can then be stored away to age, or ripen, which builds more flavor in the meat (4).

Trivia time: What do Chorizo, Bratwurst, Salami, Boerewor, and Lap Chong have in common?

They’re all names for sausage.

Whatever you call it, sausages are renowned for their appearance, taste, and hefty protein/fat contents.

Most people grill or broil their sausages, but I wanted to try baking (roasting) them, of course. You can’t have a sausage without a proper bun and condiment. That’s why this post will teach you how to make “the works.”

What you will need:

You can use any sausage to make this recipe.

I used Hot Italian Sausage. This sausage is usually made of ground pork and hot spices. Sometimes fennel is added, along with black pepper or anise. You will need 10 sausages to make the complete recipe.

For the buns: 1 cup warm skim milk, 1 large egg (beaten), 2 heaping Tbsp honey, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup and 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, 1 Tbsp yeast

For the Goat Cheese “Aioli”: 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt, 1 garlic clove (minced), 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 cup goat cheese (crumbled), 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard.

The sauce is a slight variation of an aioli, which is a sauce commonly made with garlic, oil, lemon juice, and egg yolks. Mayonnaise is typically used to make aioli, as it is already a mixture of egg yolks, oil, and vinegar. I substituted the egg yolks for nonfat Greek yogurt. It provides the proper taste and texture of an aioli without the added calories.

Avocado topping is optional- You will need 2 tbsp per sausage.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, then start making the dough. I am fortunate enough to have a bread maker. If you have one, then put all of your ingredients into the bread machine as described by the manufacturer and select the “dough” cycle.

If you don’t have a bread machine, then follow these steps:

  1. Heat the milk and honey in a small saucepan until warm to the touch (about 115°F).
  2. Take the mixture off the heat, and add the yeast. Let the yeast dissolve and sit in the liquid until it becomes foamy (about 5 minutes).
  3. In a large bowl, mix the all-purpose flour,  sea salt, chili powder, and dried rosemary. Mix the foamy liquid/yeast mixture with the contents in the large bowl, and then add the beaten egg. Stir in the olive oil. Add the whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
    The dough should resemble this structure.

    The dough should resemble this structure upon mixing (proper ratio of wet to dry ingredients).

    If the dough still seems too wet, add another tbsp of whole wheat flour.

  4. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (stretchy). This will take 6-10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces. Shape the pieces into long ovals (like hot dog buns), and place them on a greased baking sheet. You may also use parchment paper instead of grease. Cover the shaped dough with plastic wrap, and let the buns rise for about 45 minutes.

While the dough is rising, cook the sausages.

Evenly space the sausages on a wire metal grill rack, which usually comes with a roasting pan.

If you don’t have one, then you can use a baking sheet. Just cover the sheet with aluminum foil before you place the sausages onto the pan.

Raw sausages evenly spaced on a wire rack.

Raw sausages evenly spaced on a wire rack.

Cook the sausages for 30 minutes: Every ten minutes, flip the sausages over with tongs. Then “spin” the pan.

Spinning the pan is a technique that I learned about in a laboratory course. Since the inside of the oven is generally hotter toward the back, the items near the front will cook more slowly. To promote even cooking, take the pan out of the oven, and place it back into the oven in the opposite direction.

After 30 minutes have passed, raise the temperature of the oven to 400°F. Flip the sausages once more, and spin the pan. Cook for 15 more minutes, or until the sausages have browned on the inside.

No one wants to eat raw pork!

No one wants to eat raw pork!

Risen dough, ready for baking.

Risen dough, ready for baking.

Take out the sausages. At this point, your dough will have risen!

Uncover the risen buns, and place them into the 400°F oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Goat cheese aioli. I could eat this all day.

Goat cheese aioli. I could eat this all day.

Make the aioli while the buns are cooking.

Mince 1 clove of garlic, then mix it into the yogurt. Add the crumbled goat cheese, and stir it into the sauce until smooth. Squeeze the lemon juice into the sauce. Then add the spicy brown mustard.

You will have a lot more aioli than you can fit on the sausages. Feel free to save it in the refrigerator, because it is delicious on anything.

Finished buns.

Finished buns.

When the buns are finished, remove them from the oven and let them cool for two minutes.

Slice the buns until they are almost ready to form two halves, but don’t let the top separate from the bottom.

Aioli on dog

Be generous with that delicious aioli!

Add the sausage to the sliced bun. Place as much aioli as desired onto the sausage.

I added some sliced avocado for another healthy element.

Sprinkle black pepper over the top. Take your first, messy bite, and savor the sweet, spicy, tangy, and creamy flavors of the sausage creation.

You’ll never think of sausage the same way again.

You'll never think of sausage the same way again.

Nutrition Facts for one complete sausage (with bun and toppings) based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

Nutrition Facts for one complete sausage (with bun and toppings) based on the USDA Nutrient Database.

Sources:

1. Regenstein, Joe.  “Meat Science.” Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Food Chemistry II. 2011.

2. “Dachsunds, Dog Wagons and Other Important Elements of Hot Dog History.” History of the Hot Dog. Accessed 13 Mar. 2014. Available at http://www.hot-dog.org/ht/d/sp/i/38594/pid/38594.

3. “Sausage Variety, Culture, and Cooking.” Accessed 13 March 2014. Available at http://hot-dog.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/94387.

4. “RAW-FERMENTED SAUSAGES.” FAO Corporate Document Repository. Accessed 13 Mar. 2014. Available at http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/ai407e/ai407e11.htm.

© The Baking Tour Guide, 2014

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