The first time (there’s been two…) my PBS TV series director saw me cry, it was over a Mexican hot dog.
We were filming for Season 3 in Morelia, the capital of the state of Michoacán. We had heard from many locals that the best Mexican-style hot dogs in the city were the ones at Richard’s.
You shouldn’t be surprised about Mexican-style hot dogs in the Mexican culinary repertoire. We love our hot dogs! In every city or town in Mexico, no matter how small or big, a few feet away from the top-selling taco stand, you are likely to find a top-selling hot dog stand. And once you try one, I bet that’s how you will want to prepare them in the future.
So anyway, we headed to Richard’s to meet him, film how he makes his hot dogs and try them. When we travel, I can’t help but share the food I love with my production team. I ask the sound guy, Dave, to take a bite, hoping he understands why I moan so much… I ask the camera guy, James, to take a bite too, so he can see why I keep on insisting that things are this or that good… The same goes for the director, Dan, the producer, Allie, and, well, pretty much everyone on board. If I taste something magnificent, I really want to share it with my team, mostly because I want them to experience it along with me. But this time it was different.
We got to Richard’s, he was super friendly, and he made an insane hot dog. Different from usual, I was not sharing a single bite with anyone and was very quiet. Not my normal self for sure. To the point that the director started asking, “Hey Pati, are you ok…?” And “why aren’t you showing it to camera,” and “…do you want to give James or Dave a bite?” I was zoned out. I was just shaking my head and eating the hot dog, so very slowly.
See, Mexican hot dogs and I go a long way back, as most Mexicans I guess. But in my case, rewind like 30 years ago. I was a girl, and my oldest sister started driving my sisters and me to school. Enjoying our newly found freedom, we started stopping at El Galán hot dog stand on our way back home. Though our intention was to have just one, it ended up being at least two or three. And, con todo, with all the trimmings.
El Galán translates to dreamboat or a hunk, which he was not, but his hot dogs were to die for. He would drizzle some oil on his hot plancha, or griddle, and throw on some chopped white onions, pickled jalapeños, and tomatoes. Then, as they sizzled, he’d squirt on some yellow mustard and ketchup with a secret sweet ingredient (we later found out it was orange soda!) and mix everything up. Onto that delicious mess, he threw a slice of American cheese and, once it melted, he piled everything onto a soft bun and topped it with a steaming turkey hot dog wrapped in crisp bacon. If you wanted your hot dog extra especial, a couple more crispy bacon slices would also show up at the party.
Then we would head home. Once there, we weren’t that hungry anymore. Once my dad figured out our shenanigans, he took out a $100 MN pesos bill, gave it to my oldest sister and announced that since we weren’t eating my mom’s planned home made meals, we were to eat at El Galán every day for that month. We were delighted to hear that, though we really tried not to show it… Now, I know what it feels like to be a parent that takes a disciplining measure that does nothing but fail, and then doesn’t know how to take it back.
In any case, we soon stopped going every day and left that hot dog rendez vous for Fridays, not to make my mom sad. It was a truly special time in our lives. And I am telling you those hot dogs were INSANE.
Then life happened. Then our parents divorced. Then we grew up.
Fast forward 30 years and I am eating Richard’s hot dog in Morelia. After a few minutes later, I snapped out of it, and we started filming again. I showed my hot dog to camera and ate some and shared most. As we wrapped the day up, I asked Richard for an extra hot dog. I walked to the van, sat in the back, closed the door, and ate it by myself. A few minutes later, the director opened the door to find me weeping. When I saw his concerned look, I just said, “it is nothing really, it was just the hot dog.”
Here is the recipe as good as I remember it, minus the orange soda which I find to be really not necessary. Do try it at home!
p.s. Oh… pictured to the left of the dreamboat hot dog is a hot dog del mercado or market style hot dog, which is also phenomenal, and it is included in my new cookbook Mexican Today.
- 6 to 8 slices bacon
- 6 to 8 turkey hot dogs
- 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños, or to taste
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup yellow mustard
- 6 to 8 hot dog buns
- 6 to 8 thick slices cheddar cheese
- On a cutting board, roll one slice of bacon around each hot dog. Place the tip of the hot dog over one end of the bacon slice, then roll the sausage around and around on the diagonal so that the bacon wraps around it and covers it entirely. If you get to the end of the hot dog and there is still some bacon left, roll back in the other direction until the whole strip of bacon is rolled around the hot dog.
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon-wrapped hot dogs and cook, turning every 2 to 3 minutes, until crisped and browned on all sides. Remove from the heat.
- To make the salsa especial, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medi-um heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is tender and the edges are beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato and cook for another minute or so, until the tomato has softened a bit. Stir in the jalapeños, ketchup, and mustard and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Preheat the oven or a toaster oven to 350°F.
- Open the buns but try not to separate the tops from the bottoms. Top the bottom or both halves (to taste) with cheese (break up the cheese if desired) and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 2 to 3 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the buns are lightly toasted.
- Place a bacon-wrapped hot dog on the bottom half of each bun and top with a generous amount of salsa especial. Cover with the top halves and serve right away.