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The Pearl Experience

June 9, 2011

I’m a pretty frickin’ lucky guy.  Case in point:  a few months ago I get an email from Bud, one of the higher-ups at Pearl Meat Packing and my new best friend.  To make a long story short, this beautiful man wanted to give  me and my co-bloggers a ticket to heaven.  Yes, my friends, this man turned over thirty pounds of encased meats to some of the most fanatical hot dog enthusiasts you’ll meet in New England, to dispatch with as we saw fit.  My immediate reaction was to hole up in a dive motel and fawn over them like Gollum seducing his precious; saner minds than mine prevailed however and my wife suggested I hold them in storage until my birthday weekend for a big weenie blowout (yes, I am trying to come up with some rather suggestive double entendres).


my birthday present

First, a quick bit of info about Pearl.  They’re a local meat packing company that specializes in all-beef franks.  Bud gave me a small lecture on background of the dogs, of which we had two types:  a 1/6 lb. dog that came in a five-pound package (on the right) and the 1/4 lb. dog in a four-pound package.  They respectively use in sheep and hog casings and are a coarser grind than you’d find in most hot dogs.  Bud took particular pride in the fact that the grind means the dog won’t bend to touch end-to0-end like most dogs, which have a grind that is so fine that the end product resembles a pate.  Both of these can be picked up in most grocery stores in Massachusetts; I’m not sure how much of a presence they have in other New England states but I would assume they at least stretch into New Hampshire but possibly not far into Connecticut since there’s serious competition there (they’re pretty intense about Hummel Bros. down there).

So how do you cook ten pounds of hot dogs for 10 of your closest friends?  Well since I’m such a fanatic I couldn’t decide on just one style so I decided to divide styles between the different sizes of dogs and settled on a copy of the Formaggio Kitchen’s Pearl-in-the-Hole and a West Virginia slaw dog.

the fine sheen of flavor

So what’s a Pearl-in-the-Hole?  Well, at Formaggio they grab a half-pound Pearl frank, grill it, smother it in delicious BBQ sauce and shove it in a half of a baguette filled with condiments of your choosing; my usuals are grilled onions, hot pepper relish and BBQ sauce.  The great thing about this dog is that at the very end you hit a wiener-less spot that’s nothing but bread that’s sopping with sauce and onions; so utterly reminiscent of my favorite aspect of great BBQ joints that are the pieces of Wonderbread laying below a half-rack of ribs.

you hear those angels?

Now Jesus didn’t show up in a burn mark on the baguettes but I did have an odd halo that formed over my head while grilling these bad boys up.  A quick rundown on how you build this dog: throw the dogs on the grill to get them nice & charred; dig the middles out of the baguette, which you fill with the BBQ sauce and sauteed onions and put alongside the dogs; let your friends dip the baguette’s harvested innards into the sauce so they don’t bite your fingers; give the dogs a dip in the BBQ sauce (bubbling in a pot on the grill); and then put it all together by screwing the dog into the baguette, producing a delicious and off-putting squelching sound.

the bubbling vat of deliciousness

the sound this produces is delicious and off-putting at the same time

what, me worry?

crazy Charles Manson look

So now you know what a ravenous hot dog devotee looks like.  Yes, that’s right, he looks like a deranged Charles Manson just moments after scrawling a swastika into his forehead.

Now, on to the slaw dog!  I’ll first have to admit that I’m a fan of the WV Hot Dog Blog and have been ashamed of my countless (two, really) attempts to grab their attention.  Maybe this will do it, because I used the Marmet Yellow Slaw recipe that Stanton unearthed at a flea market last year and combined it with another famous WV HDJ recipe, a replica of Yann’s chli sauce.

Honestly for me this was the clear winner.  It had nothing to do with the fact that I had spent an hour making the slaw and another 5 hours simmering the chili sauce; it had everything to do with the fact that the chili sauce was an amazing burst of heat and savory cumin-cinnamon blend that melded perfectly with the cool sweetness of the yellow slaw.  For any of you readers out there who can’t make the trip, bring a little bit of the WV mountain country to your home with a tray of these dogs and a six pack of some cheap beer in your cooler.

spicy chili

yeller slaw

hot dog what what what!?!

But what of the Pearl dogs, you say?  Well I didn’t admit it to Bud at the time but I’ve always been a fan of theirs, having first encountered the dog at Speed’s (which has since changed brands) and then at my neighborhood stand, Fred’s Franks.  Their all-beef dog is the best you can get in New England.  I’m a devotee of the coarser grind, which has a texture more enjoyable than the pate-like all-beef dogs, and their spice blend is near perfection because it doesn’t stand in the way of some of the more subtle condiments I’ve put on a dog (such as the zuchinni relish at Snappy Dogs).  So if you keep making ’em, Bud, I’ll keep eating them.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2011 9:15 am

    I understand that I may not be on your “top ten” friends list, but if you expand the list to the top eleven I expect an invite.
    We get Pearl’s here in Maine. They are awesome hot dogs, but we’ll stick with our Hummel’s. I’ve actually considered offering both, but not yet.
    Hopefully, Hot Diggity and I will see you next year at your birthday party. Happy Birthday!

    • November 12, 2012 9:29 pm

      Yank’s Franks began serving Pearl’s at the start of our 2012 season. The reviews have been fantastic.

  2. June 10, 2011 9:17 am

    haha! Hey Yank, I figured you were too busy slinging dogs at the stand–aren’t most people slaves to the business for the first fifteen years or so of owning a restaurant? Of course I’ll invite you along for the next round, however, and hope to make a stop in at your stand now that we’ve shaken off old man winter.

  3. June 10, 2011 10:34 am

    Boston Speeds is back on the Pearl dogs !!!** ## I was also told that
    Greg is also spreading his wings ito a few other venues . Not sure where but the
    airport was one location and fenway park area was another spot. I’ll keep you posted if I hear anything new.

    • June 12, 2011 2:34 pm

      oh wow, were the freight charges for his Hummel Bros. too much? 😉

      I heard rumors about the Fenway spot but not the airport–did he say either are definite?

  4. John S permalink*
    June 14, 2011 11:20 am

    I should chime in here on my Pearl experience. A couple of days sfter meeting Bud in a supermarket parking lot to get my bag o’weiners, I had some folks over–notably Boy and Milkbone–for the season’s first grill firing. The Pearls were the main attraction.

    I found that I preferred the smaller, sheep-casing dogs. While I liked the snap on the larger dogs, I then became much too aware of the consistency of the hog casing as I chewed. Boy was at the other end of the spectrum, but as a dog-lovin’ 13-year-old, it may just be that he was diggin’ on the bigger-sized dog.

    I tried one with my own slaw recipe (a specific salad dressing being the semi-secret ingredient). Nice, but I need to go much finer on the slaw. A big, coarse slaw doesn’t work well for me on a dog. On another evening, having a couple of pounds left over and being a boiler by nature, I subjected a couple of the smaller dogs to the grey water and then buried them under melty cheese. The Pearls keep their flavor and their snap whether they’re flamed or boiled–nicely versatile. They’re now a first consideration at the house when dog-shoppin’.

  5. July 1, 2011 3:48 pm


    What you don’t know about your West Virginia Hot Dog combo is that Russell Yann, the owner of Yann’s Hot Dogs in Fairmont (the chili recipe) would have a stroke if he knew you had put slaw on top of his sauce! I always knew that it would be great with sweet slaw on top. Thanks for testing it out for me. I’m glad to hear the yellow slaw recipe was good.


    • July 3, 2011 2:43 pm

      hey Stanton, thanks for the info–I’m not surprised that Yann would take exception to the combo, from stories I’ve read on the net he seems to be a man who runs things his way and his way only. Thanks for posting the recipe on your site, it was delicious!

  6. CEO permalink
    July 23, 2012 4:52 am

    I’ve had the original marmet slaw as a kid growing up and that looks nothing like it. Also the recipe unearthed supposedly is incorrect also, no one but his family has that recipe since they moved to the last trailer by the highway

    • July 24, 2012 6:39 pm

      I’m not terribly surprised that the slaw I made looks like nothing what you would remember, CEO, because I never had the original so have no point of reference (and that’s not to mention that I’ve only rolled through WV a few times). Regardless, the recipe was pretty awesome and I’d highly suggest giving it a try.

  7. Brenda Bruce permalink
    June 10, 2014 11:07 am

    Your cabbage isn’t cut up fine enough. My dad use to take me to the Canary Cottage as a kid to get hot dogs and they were great. I’ve had other versions of yellow slaw over the years but none come close to the ones from the Canary Cottage.

    • June 14, 2014 7:47 pm

      Thanks for letting me know Brenda–not having had the slaw or a visual guide I went with how I make slaw. I know I cut it waaaay to thick for a WV slaw dog but I was a little busy prepping for the party that day and didn’t have the time to go finer with my cut.


  1. The Yann-Marmet Dog Comes Home « The Hot Dog I Ate
  2. a summer wasted with weenies (or, how i learned to stop worrying and love the hot dog) « The Hot Dog I Ate

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