winner 2012 great hot dog cookoff

Team TailgateJoe Wins 1st Place at Great Hot Dog Cookoff 2012

by Joe on July 24, 2012

This past Saturday, Team TailgateJoe led by the tandem of Joe and Chef Sal, along with help from Joe G, took 1st place in Top Dog Audience Voting, as a majority of the over 600 attendees felt that our “Nick Mangold Over The Line Dog” was the best in a field of 24 chefs. Here is the story of how we came up with our dog.

After taking 2nd place 2 years running with the Sanchize Dog in 2010 and the 81 The Dustin Dog in 2011, Joe and Sal had something to prove coming into the 2012 Great Hot Dog Cookoff. Joe and Sal decided to buck the trend of going exotic with toppings and instead just concentrate on taking some classic hot dog flavors and going all out to make them the best they could be. Their creation turned out to be the “Nick Mangold Over The Line Dog.” The game plan was to pick three toppings as we felt this was the optimal number to create something interesting and full of flavor but not a sloppy mess or adding things for the sake of adding them.

Joe methodically studied, researched, and tested every selection involved in creating the dog. Here was the process step by step.

The Bun: After searching high and low since before the 2010 Hot Dog Cookoff, we have been trying to find the perfect bun. We wanted a bun that was able to hold all the toppings we were going to throw at it and be substantial enough to impart its own flavors, but not overly “bready” or dry. We were looking for soft, sweet, and slightly buttery. At this point I can hear some of you saying in your head “how about those Martins potato rolls?” Well, all I have to say to that is, you are a fucking retard, no self respecting hot dog gourmand would dare consider a potato roll. After making trips to bakeries throughout NY and NJ this summer, we found exactly what we were looking for from Brooklyn’s own Royal Crown Bakery. These buns will hopefully be available for retail purchase soon.

The Hot Dog: We made the choice early on that we wanted to do something different in the preparation of our dog. As a native Staten Islander, Joe has spent quite a bit of time in neighboring New Jersey, home to some of the greatest hot dog stands in the USA, and home of the “ripper,” a deep fried hot dog cooked in oil until it bursts. Having enjoyed hundreds of these dogs from places like Tommy’s Italian Hot Dogs in Elizabeth, Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, The Windmill along the Jersey shore, and Hot Dog Johnny’s in Buttzville, Joe knew the crowd in Brooklyn would love the idea of a deep fried dog. The competition provides hot dogs to the competitors every year, but we always elect to bring our own. In the past we have used a 1/4 lb Nathans for the Sanchize and a natural casing Sabretts for the Dustin as we felt those dogs were best suited for the application. For the Mangold Dog, we tested 3 different dogs, finally deciding on Best brand hot dogs from Newark. This is the same dog used by most of the Italian Hot Dog shops in Jersey, and well suited to standing up to the deep frying process.

Chili: As far as we are concerned, the chili dog is the ultimate expression and the example of the hot dog in its ultimate form. In the world of hot dogs, the chili dog is the top dog. As it turns out, TGJ has what we feel is the best hot dog chili there is, so including it was a no brainer. For this contest we added 3 ingredients and a little bit of heat to give a little punch on top of all the layered flavors we were building.

Bacon Jam: Doesn’t that just sound awesome? Say it with me folks, “bacon jam!” Try saying it without having a smile crack on your face, you can’t. Bacon is like cheating in any cooking competition and we knew we wanted to add a sweet bacony component. While we produced a passable version after cooking it for nearly 24 hours, we are still working on perfecting our recipe for this component.

Cheese: Cheese goes along with chili and we needed to have some, but we didn’t want to do some boring cheese sauce or just drop a clump of shredded cheese on our dog, we felt that would be a cop out. We also were having an issue with getting a crunch component to contrast the chili and the bun. We decided we wanted to combine cheese and crunch, but that led to some dry and not necessarily cheesey options. Starring at the deep fryer we would use for the competition, we came up with the idea of fried cheese, and the cheese balls we ended up using. The cheese balls turned out to be a massive hit at the competition and I am sure was very much a reason for our success.

So there ya go, a little peak into what it takes to create one of the greatest hot dogs we have ever eaten.

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