When you live in Chicago, you are automatically required, by law, to talk about hot dogs every day. We talk about hot dogs all the time because we have our own style of hot dog, called “The Chicago-Style Hot Dog.”
Because the word “Chicago” is in the hot dog’s name, you are also required to get angry at other people for liking different kinds of hot dogs. The other part of this law is that you are immediately supposed to verbally shame anyone who puts ketchup on their hot dog. A lot of hot dog stands here actually have signs saying that ketchup on hot dogs is not allowed.
I think this is a very silly law, but many people in Chicago take it very seriously. I do not mind when people put ketchup on their hot dogs, because that is up to them. I am more concerned with ISIS than I am with ketchup. When people are not looking I oftentimes sprinkle high-quality powdered cocaine all over my hot dogs because I like that extra boost in euphoria, energy, and feeling of self-worth. When I do this, everyone looks the other way, because they like when “Fun Dannis” comes out.
The Chicago-style hot dog is actually pretty complicated.
A Chicago-style hot dog is comprised of a squishy white bread poppy seed hot dog bun, a hot dog (usually a Vienna Beef hot dog, but there are a few other hometown brands), mustard, chopped onions, slices of tomato, weirdly-colored pickle relish, a whole pickle spear, sport peppers, and a small sprinkling of celery salt.
Weird, I know. There are also variations on this dog, such as the “The Depression Dog,” but this is not important right now. And yes, it’s a lot of stuff. If eating one of these things sounds difficult, it really is. All the shit falls off while you’re trying to eat it, you get onion breath, and your hands smell like mustard for the rest of the day. But they really do taste quite good.
If you’re visiting Chicago and you eat one, just loudly proclaim that it’s the best hot dog you’ve ever eaten so you don’t get punched in the face. Also, just to be safe, shout about how ketchup is an abomination even if you like ketchup.
But right now the world doesn’t need another hot dog. It needs a champion.
So I said to myself, while thoughtfully smoking a bowl of crack cocaine, “Dannis Ree, you have eaten many of these hot dogs. What is a fancy new way to experience this hot dog sensation that will unite the fine-dining crowd with the neanderthals who eat hot dogs with their filthy booger-covered fingers?”
I looked west, at France. Then I looked in the opposite direction, because France is actually east of Chicago.
“That’s right, Dannis. Today we will do a Chicago-Style Hot Dog Terrine.”
For those of you plebians who don’t know what a French terrine is, a terrine is basically just a loaf of chopped up meat squashed into a tray, served in slices. Whatever. Doesn’t matter.
Start with your mise en place.
A mise en place is where you fist your best friend’s mother, lovingly, and not violently. It also means to chop up all your ingredients into bits and pieces before you start any actual cooking. Dice your onions, slice up your sport peppers, cut your tomato up into thin rounds, and slice your pickle spears into thin pieces.
On a Chicago-style hot dog, the sport peppers and pickle spears are kept whole, but in this case, you want an even distribution of ingredients so it will look marvelous later.
Next, put a thin layer of onions in your small bread mold.
Optionally, you can throw a few loose teeth in there for additional texture. Maybe some shards of glass. Remember, you’re the artist.
After that, sprinkle the chopped sport peppers onto the onions.
Good, you can follow directions. I’m proud of you. My parents are not proud of me.
Layer the thin tomato slices on top of the onions and peppers. Make sure everything stays in an even layer.
Channel your inner demons to turn this into perfection.
Spoon a uniform layer of neon-green pickle relish on top of the tomatoes.
Chicago’s pickle relish is so green it looks like it’ll give you cancer. Considering processed meats have also been linked to cancer, I think it is safe to say that this dish will also give you cancer.
Gently place your pickle slices on top of the relish in an even layer too.
The more I think about it, the more I think this thing looks like a coffin, which is where you will sleep forever after you get cancer from eating this terrine. Death is coming for all of us.
Set your pan aside and slice your hotdogs into thirds, lengthwise.
It’s like slicing open a penis, but less fun!
One of my favorite thing about hot dogs is that their ends look like anuses.
Well, like most anuses. Mine looks like the hole to Dimension X.
Once you’re finished slicing your hot dogs, place them into a pot of gently simmering water. Do not overcook them, otherwise they will curl up.
Also do not throw out the water, because we’re not finished with it quite yet.
As the hot dogs warm up, pour two packets of gelatin powder into 1/4 cup cold water and let that sit for a few minutes until it looks like this.
If you put gelatin directly into a hot liquid, it will seize up and make strange white mucus ribbons, much like the substance that your mother is covered in after we have Greco-Roman wresting practice. Always bloom gelatin in cold water, just like I always finish on your mother’s face.
When the hot dogs have warmed up, place them in uniform layers over the hot dog toppings.
It should look pretty horrific, but power through it. You can do this. I believe in you.
After you’re done with the hot dog layers, pour the gelatin into the warm hot dog water and give it a good stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved.
This will bind the terrine together so that it will come out in one big piece. Plus, the hot dog water gives the terrine a much more disgusting flavor.
Pour the warm gelatin hot dog water into the tray until it comes up to the hot dogs, cover the top with plastic wrap, and let the terrine sit in the refrigerator overnight.
As it cools down, the terrine will set into one jiggly loaf. You should be pretty excited at this juncture, so excited that you have an erection.
The next day, when you are ready to serve this monstrosity, tear the poppy seed buns in half and roll them out flat with a rolling pin. Toast them in the oven until they are golden brown, then slice the bun into even squares.
Before they are toasted, they should look like an unused sanitary napkin, and in fact, can be used that way.
Take the tray out of the refrigerator, and gently slide a knife along the edges to loosen the terrine onto a cutting board. By now you should have an insane boner. If you are a woman, you will have actually grown a penis, which is now fully erect.
This is what your Chicago-Style Hot Dog Terrine should look like!
I mean, just look at that glorious thing! Isn’t it actually kind of beautiful in a terrifying way? Even Harvey and Mr. Bee were impressed, and it’s hard to impress them and their beady little judging eyes.
Here’s another view from the side.
You can see all the layers! It’s like a Chicago-style hot dog rainbow of cancer!
To serve, lop off a slice gently, drizzle with mustard, and sprinkle with a dash of celery salt.
And man, this thing tastes as hilarious as it looks. There’s nothing like the mealy texture of cold hot dogs encased in hot dog water gelatin. The pickle spears cut through the richness of the emulsified meat product, the pickle relish adds sweetness, the tomato brings freshness, the onions provide a sharp acrid bite, and the spicy sport peppers punch your culinary balls with heat. The whole thing is finished off with tart mustard and grassy celery salt, along with the humiliation that you just made this awful piece of shit.
It’s truly divine. Divinely stupid.
And congratulations, now that you’ve read this, you’ve just become twenty-five times dumber in the kitchen.
The Chicago-Style Hot Dog Terrine
- 1/3 cup chopped onions
- 1/4 cup chopped sport peppers
- 1/2 medium tomato, sliced thinly
- 1/3 cup neon green pickle relish
- 4 pickle spears sliced into thin pieces
- One package (8) hot dogs of your choice, preferably Vienna Beef for accuracy, sliced lengthwise into thirds
- 2 cups simmering water
- 2 packets gelatin
- 1/4 cup cold water
- One package poppy seed hot dog buns
- Celery salt
Layer the onions, sport peppers, tomato, pickle relish, and pickle spears on top of each other evenly in your bread mold. You’re probably not reading this.
Heat the hot dogs gently in 2 cups of simmering water. Once they are hot, remove them and layer the hot dog slices on top of the other garbage, but do it nicely. Remember, this may result in someone having rough sex with you in the backseat of a stolen minivan.
Bloom 2 packets gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water and let sit for 5 minutes. Pour the sticky result into the hot dog water and stir until dissolved. Pour this mixture into the bread mold and gently tap to get any air bubbles out. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
When ready to serve, roll poppy seed bun halves with rolling pin, toast until golden brown, and slice into squares.
Serve with a drizzle of yellow mustard and a sprinkling of celery salt.
Then run. Run as far as your legs will take you. Run to the sea, spread your angel wings, and fly. Fly until the horrible people in your life can never find you again. Fly to the planet Jupiter. It is a gas planet. You cannot live there, nor can you breathe in outer space. You also don’t have any wings. Instead, cry. Cry like you lost your greatest love, because you probably have. Cry like you lost all of your hopes and dreams. Live out of a Volkswagon Beetle for two long years, all the while, repeating to yourself, “At least I’m not Dannis. At least I’m not Dannis. At least I’m not Dannis.”