After a week of scandalous headlines filled with angry denials followed by shame-faced admissions and finally, a closetful of salacious skeletons from a certain senator with a rather unfortunate last name, hotdogs are on the brain. Which is fine. To be frank (har de har har), I have always loved hotdogs—preferably fresh from the grill with a burnt, papery skin on the outside or boiled to a plump finish in a potful of cheap beer. No sense wasting the good stuff on boiling hotdogs, no matter how tasty they are.
Either way, said 'dawgs are best enjoyed, in my humble estimation, tucked in a slightly steamed bun, beneath a mound of cole slaw and a generous slathering of ballpark-worthy yellow mustard. The mustard is crucial—it's the base in the flavor pyramid of the whole shedaisy. Its vinegary bite melds just so with the creamy slaw, the coolness and crunchiness of which contrasts sublimely with the toothsome bite of the warm bread and meat. That said, I'm not opposed to the occasional hotdog with a zip of chili and diced sweet onion or a tangle of saurkraut, mustard and ketchup (the addition of which seems to raise the absolute ire of native New Yorkers).
So, in my enthusiasm for hotdogs, here's my contribution to Weinergate: my top 10 Grilling Side Dishes, each of which will not only work just dandy with hotdogs, but also with practically anything you pop on the grill, from our marinated Portobello Mushrooms to our Jamaican Jerk Chicken to a thick juicy steak.
Ok, ok. Keep your pants on (no really, keep your pants on), I'm getting to it, I'm getting to it.
10. My mother's potato salad, made with Yukon golds, a little mayo, a little sour cream, diced onion, horseradish, salt, pepper, and crispy crumbled bacon sprinkled on just before serving.
9. Our Almost Instant Potatoes.
8. A hearty, slightly warm potato salad with mayo, mustard, diced red onion, diced dill pickles, salt and pepper.
7. Our Rancho Gordo Drunken Beans.
6. Sweet corn grilled in the husk with butter, salt and lots of pepper.
5. Beer-batter onion rings with a boatload of ketchup.
4. Our Black-eyed Pea Salad.
3. Baked sweet potato fries dipped in our piquant Cilantro-Lime Créme Fraiche..
2. Grilled veggie kababs brushed with good quality olive oil, salt, coarsely ground pepper, and a steady stream of aged balsamic vinegar.
1. My absoulute, number-one favorite grilling side: A quickie summer salad consisting of 2 cups of cooked but rinsed and drained black beans, 1 cup sweet corn niblets, diced juicy fresh tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of 2 limes, a ton of chopped cilantro, salt and pepper. The longer it sits, the better it gets. For lunch the next day, I add a little feta and eat it with crackers. Yum.
—By Stacey Norwood, multimedia editor