My Bacon-wrapped Birthday
“You know that there are two things he hates,” Milkbone said to my wife as they waited for me to get home. “Surprises and parties.”
She shrugged. It was too late now. She had arranged to surprise me on my 48th birthday with a hot dog-based shindig with a few close friends who had already arrived and I was on my way home in, unbeknownst to her, a pretty foul mood.
What saved the day, and the soiree, were the bacon-wrapped hot dogs.
It was a daring move on her part. Not only was she planning to bring together the two things I love most–okay, third-most after her and the kids–but she was also banking on a recipe she’d found on the internet.
And a tricky-ish one at that. It’s easy enough to wrap a strip of bacon around a hot dog and fry it up. But her idea went beyond that. Each Kayem jumbo dog was carefully slit down the middle, caution being taken to not cut either all the way down or all the way to the ends. Thus, a pocket was formed. And into this pocket went cheese. She took a block of cheddar and sliced it thinly along the long side. Each slice was then cut into thirds, and all three pieces were tucked into the pocket. “A hot dog holds more than you think it will,” she says.
Next up: jalapenos. In some cases, actually, jalapenos and sauerkraut. She tucked some thinly sliced jalapeno rounds in with the cheese. Sadly, the store wasn’t packing habaneros that day or she would have bought one for me. (Needless to say, it’s on the list for next time.) Finally, the wrapping.
Before discussing how much of a pain in the weiner wrapping each hot dog was, let’s stop to take a look at the finished product. You may, if you like, make an ooooh sound.
My wife’s advice to you if you try to do this is to use thick-cut bacon. The run-of-the-mill thin bacon shown here didn’t always want to roll without ripping. Other times it stuck to itself. I believe she was saved from madness only by the healing powers of Blue Moon beer. (You know, in case they’d like to sponsor us.) However she did it, she cranked out a dozen and we were ready to fire them puppies up.
Of course, the bacon dogs weren’t alone…
Along with the dogs, other members of the encased meats family were invited. A kielbasa and Chinese sausage made for tasty appetizers. The table was set with an array of condiments, mustards, hot sauces and more–everything to let the guests express their hot dog souls. They also had their choice of standard hot dog rolls, torpedo rolls or potato rolls. From here this post is pretty much just a photo album.
I was disappointed that Alex posted a picture of someone wearing this hat before I did.
Milkbone offered to be the grand grillmaster for the event, and there’s no one I’d sooner hand my tongs to than this guy.
A pair of photos for your gustatory delight. The first shows Milkbone taking the dogs off the grill as hungry guest D. Bradford looks on. Note the rapt attention on Milkbone’s face. For him, this is serious business.
In our second photo, it’s just all about the hots dogs, baby. They’re ready for their close-up.
The bacon-wrapped dog really is a delicious bit of fun. We cooked them on a sheet for foil on the grill to start so the bacon wouldn’t stick and, as Milkbone pointed out, to reduce flareup that would burn it . As the bacon crisped up and the dogs were done, Milkbone moved them onto the grate proper to finish and brown up just a bit more under the flame. The jalapenos gave an acceptable shot of heat to the dogs, and the cheese was pure melty goodness. Almost seems a shame to top them, since they’re so good. But we did.
I was feeling artful. The dog on the left was the more straightforward of the two, with more cheese and a very good sweet chipotle mustard by Good Food, which is brand associated with, of all things, Good Housekeeping. Go get some. Like now. On the right, well…I went a little overboard. Store-made chili (She didn’t have time, okay? She was wrapping bacon around hot dogs, going a little more Lady Macbeth with each one. We’re a theater family.) and homemade cole slaw based on my quite satisfying recip). That was an explosion of flavors, my friends. And sloppy as hell. As Milkbone said later, the dogs became a secondary or tertiary consideration at this point. “One, jalapenos. Two, bacon. Three, hot dog.” I believe those were his exact words.
Even Boy, the Lord of Just Ketchup himself, was on hand.
Naturally, I couldn’t get him to try one of the bacon dogs. But he was quite content to load a straight dog up with red stuff, tucked in a torpedo roll. And, as you might guess when it comes to 12-year-old boys, he couldn’t get enough of the damnfool hat.
So, yes, I started the evening in a foul mood. Unsociable, disliking surprises, coming off a so-so workday. But with the liberal application of a few delicious bacon-wrapped dogs, an adult beverage or three, and the company of good friends by the grill, I’d say that my bacon-wrapped birthday was one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in a good long while.