I’m a chili dog aficionado. I don’t mean I just like chili dogs. I love them. They’re the perfect combination of meat and starch, and they stick to your ribs.
Up until recently, I lamented not being able to make this treat at home with Petit Jean hot dogs. However, Petit Jean Meats has now come up with an all-beef dog that’s not only good, it’s vastly superior to just about every hot dog I’ve encountered – and that’s saying a lot! I’m not going to drop names here (it’s impolite to the competition) but I will say Petit Jean Meats beef hot dogs are Chicago-worthy – as in, just as good if not better than the wieners I encountered in the Windy City.
You may not know this, but Petit Jean Meats also makes a primo chili. I’m not talking about one of those from-the-can chilis. I’m talking about an all-beef, tomato-based chunky and thick chili with just the right amount of garlic. It’s not spicy, but if you want spicy, you can add your own heat.
And turns out, it’s mondo perfect for a good chili dog.
Thing is, true chili aficionados know all about a good chili dog. They also know what you do to make the perfect dog, and what you don’t do. Hence, the Chili Dog Rules. These are the tips to making your dog as good as any you get in a prime restaurant, drive-thru or sporting event.
- NEVER heat your bun in the microwave. This means your dog should not touch the bun until it’s time for assembly. If you want your cheese melted on top, the heat of the chili will do that for you.
- Never toast your bun. Hot dog buns can be steamed or they can be placed inward face down on a hot griddle, but they should not be toasted. You can use cold buns, too, and that’ll keep them comfortable enough to pick up with your bare hands, if you’re into that sort of thing.
- Condiments go on the bun before your dog does. Whether it’s mayo, mustard, Miracle Whip or sweet relish, your best coverage per bite is incurred by putting the condiments on the inside of the bun instead of on top of the dog. This insures a good condiment-to-bite ratio. If you must add ketchup, you can do it at this step. I won’t judge (though others might).
- The perfect dog perspires. That’s right – whether you’re heating your dog on a grill or in the oven or even over an open fire, the dog is perfect when it’s sweating. That means the surface is starting to become moist with the internal juices.
- If you’re going to pick your dog up, be conservative with the chili. A sign that a subpar dog is being used in many places is the chili-to-dog ratio. If the dog is so-so, the chili dog maker may try to cover it up with more chili. Plus, it’s really hard to pick up a chili dog that’s got chili dripping on the outside. If you’re somewhere you can eat it with a fork, slather on as much as you like.
- Coleslaw is acceptable but not necessary. It always goes on top of the chili.
- Choose your cheese wisely. Petit Jean chili has a nice flavor profile, but some stinkier cheeses and creamy cheeses don’t match well. I love a good, firm Cheddar that I grate myself on my Microplane.
Now that you’ve gone over the rules, it’s time to assemble your dogs.
- Eight Petit Jean all-beef hot dogs (there are 10 to a pack, but trust me, those dogs won’t go to waste)
- *Yes, you may substitute Petit Jean Jumbos or those famous red wieners
- One package of eight hot dog buns
- Two packages Petit Jean Real Beef Chili
- Two ounces hard or semi-hard cheese, grated (Cheddar, Colby and Monterrey Jack are all fine choices)
- Condiments of choice
- Heat chili according to directions. Grill hot dogs on griddle or grill or over open flame until heated through.
- Open hot dog buns and add condiments of choice, per the preferences of each diner.
- Place one Petit Jean all-beef hot dog within each hot dog bun.
- Carefully spoon in 2-3 tablespoons Petit Jean Real Beef Chili over wiener, leaving the end of the dog uncovered. The chili will spread a little on serving. This step keeps chili from ending up in your lap.
- Sprinkle grated cheese on top of chili. Serve immediately.
Kat Robinson is a food and travel writer in Little Rock, AR who has taken to spreading the word about Arkansas foodways. The storyteller and former television producer found a calling to share the tales of Arkansas’s restaurateurs, chefs and home cooks during recent years criss-crossing the state as afreelance journalist. She has published three books, Arkansas Pie: A Delicious Slice of the Natural State, Classic Eateries of the Ozarks and Arkansas River Valley, and Classic Eateries of the Arkansas Delta, and is researching a fourth, Classic Eateries of Southern and Western Arkansas, to be published in fall 2015. Kat has written about food and restaurants for a number of publications including the Arkansas Times, Arkansas Life, Arkansas Living, Serious Eats and Do South, among others. Her syndicated blog, TieDyeTravels.com, covers her journey through Arkansas and the MidSouth. She also serves as the Arkansas Research Fellow for the Southern Food and Beverage Institute. She lives with her daughter Hunter in Little Rock.
Kat is a member of the Petit Jean Meats Blue Diamond Club, a group of dedicated ambassadors who share their love of Petit Jean Meats with the world.