Otto Van Bismarck is credited with the famous quote, “Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” With the trend towards preservative- and filler-free sausages made using natural ingredients and transparent methods, however, some processed meats don’t necessarily have that same negative connotation any longer.
With the number of small producers that are thriving because of the demand for tasty, artisan sausages (Irvings Farm Fresh comes to mind), it was only a matter of time before hot dogs – the other near blasphemous processed meat, were treated with the same respect.
Spring Creek Ranch does make artisan ‘dogs with natural casings, though at this point, they are only sold at the Monster Burger outlet at the Northlands Expo Centre (Kirstin Kotelko said that a wider commercial release may be in the cards). O Sol’ Meatos, a small producer out of Kitscoty, Alberta, on the other hand, does offer artisan hot dogs for at-home consumption. We bought a package of four through the Good Food Box recently to give them a try.
O Sol’ Meatos hot dogs
There weren’t any cooking instructions on the package, and being without a barbecue (which would have been our preferred preparation method), we decided steaming them in a sauté pan with some water would be our best bet.
Even during cooking, we could tell these weren’t regular hot dogs. They were pungent in the best way possible – we couldn’t think of a better word to describe it than “beefy”. We steamed them for just over five minutes, but in hindsight, should have inserted a meat thermometer to keep a close eye on the temperature, as they didn’t need to be cooked that long. Talking to Brian and Rhonda at the Culina Muttart launch, they said our suggestion of including instructions was a reasonable one – given the lean meat encased in the hot dog, overcooking them would be an easy mistake to make.
We ate the hot dogs in German buns from Bee Bell Bakery (they worked well enough, but if anyone has any suggestions of good hot dog buns, please do share!). The casings were crisp, like those normally associated with breakfast sausage, and the meat directly around the casing was pink, as one would normally expect. The centre, however, was brown, and had the consistency of sausage meat, dense and unyielding, with a deep, smoky flavour.
Brian and Rhonda explained that nitrates (added as a preservative) lend the pink hue to commercial hot dogs. Their product is nitrate-free, except for the naturally occurring nitrates in smoke, which clarified why only the circumference of the hot dog was pink.
On the side we served a very simple red cabbage salad with lemon and black pepper, a Molly Wizenberg recipe. We loved the crunch, and it was a great seasonal replacement for the more common green salad (the small cabbage we bought from August Organics made six generous servings of this salad).
Red cabbage slaw
We just bought another package of the O Sol’ Meatos hot dogs this week. I’m sure when cooked right, they will be even better!