It seems so simple. Stab a hot dog with a stick and shove it in the fire. Sure that’s how you’ve done it ever since you were in short pants, but I’m here to say you can do better than the resulting ash-covered, coal-black burnt dog that’s still cold in the middle. Here’s how:
I shouldn’t have to tell Wild Chef readers this, but it bears repeating: The best meals, even just a roasted hot dog, start with the best ingredients.
That means investing in a well-made frank. Nathan’s seem to be the dog on everyone’s lips, but as a Nebraskan, I’m partial to Fairbury Tom Boy hot dogs. You can find some flavorful franks in specialty meat markets, including great tasting, and probably healthier, uncured versions. And for the love of all that is sacred to summer grilling, don’t go with the vegetarian dog. That’s just wrong.
The romantic notion of roasting a dog over an open flame leads to that oh-so-familiar black and cold dog. Instead, build a proper cooking fire burning hardwoods like ash, birch, or beech down until you have a good bed of hot coals. Rake the glowing embers to one side, or better yet, build a keyhole fire ring that has an area to keep the fire going and a place to cook over the coals. You’ll want the heat source in the medium-hot range, which you can gauge by holding your hand 4 inches over the coals. If you can keep it there for 5 seconds, you’re ready to roast your wieners.
For the right roasting stick or skewer, the traditionalist in me wants to recommend a green branch stripped from a nearby willow. However, commercial-grade skewers are much more efficient at cooking the hot dog from the inside out as the metal transfers heat better than wet wood. A flat skewer will also keep the dog from spinning or, worse, sliding off into the fire. Just be sure to get one that’s long enough to prevent scorching the hair off your knuckles.
Prop your skewer up so the hot dog hovers about 4 inches above the coals. Now get to spinning. You know those hot dogs that spend their day turning on rollers down at the Git-n-Split? That’s what you’re going for. A nice slow spin so the sausage cooks evenly on all sides without scorching. Keep this up for about five minutes and then grab the dog with a pre-toasted bun, slide it off the skewer and enjoy with your favorite condiments, which in my book includes yellow mustard and a green tomato relish.