The idea of a hot dog roasted over an open fire is a romantic one, but the reality is usually bitter black on the outside and cold in the middle. A truly perfect dog requires technique—and maybe a couple of secret ingredients.
First, the heat source: Let a hardwood fire burn down until you have a pile of glowing coals that you can hold your hand over for a count of five.
A flat metal skewer (with a handle) transfers heat better than a green willow, cooking the hot dog from the inside as well as out, and keeps the meat in place as you turn it. Next, while a plain dog is fine, thinking outside the bun is even better. Wrap the dog with bacon or prepared biscuit dough, then hold the frank about 4 inches over the fiery ashes. Slowly spin the skewer so all sides roast evenly.
This, of course, leaves you with a hand free for the perfect hot-dog beverage—a cold beer.
Illustration by Andrew Rae