As I’ve gotten older, the draw of neat and easily eaten food has overwhelmed some old favorites, and I can’t even remember the last time I had a sloppy joe. Pretty sure my Mom made ’em from a can, but perhaps I’m wrong and she figured out the seasonings balance and cooked them from scratch. Now I wouldn’t eat them because, well, they’re sloppy. It says so in the name, right? Ah, those summer dishes we’d have when I was growing up. Mmm…
Gad. How boring I’ve become! Determined to do something about that, I set out to make chili dogs. But not just any chili dogs, I wanted to make great and healthy chili dogs based on Park’s Finest frankfurters from Ball Park. After all, my kids already love Ball Park hot dogs, so the fact that the company’s introduced a new line of gourmet-style frankfurters was just a win. The perfect chili dogs include cheese and fresh white onions too, so those were added to the recipe.
Let me start by whetting your appetite. Here’s the finished product:
Doesn’t that just look amazing? And messy? 🙂
First stop was the local Safeway where I had to hack through the jungle of hot dogs to find the Park’s Finest. Can you see them in the following photo? It took me a minute or two:
Turns out that they were on the left side of the second shelf down. A bit tricky to locate, but well worth it. The Park’s Finest come in three flavors: Signature Seasoned, Smokehouse BBQ Seasoned and Cracked Dijon Mustard. I’m a sucker for mustard, so my chili dog grill recipe starts with the Cracked Dijon Mustard Park’s Finest frankfurters.
In addition, pick up some hot dog buns, cheddar cheese, the chili of your choice and a big white onion. Here are my starting ingredients, all neatly laid out:
My kids are currently obsessed with sharp cheddar, the sharper the better, so Tillamook Sharp Cheddar – in slices! – works great and is delicious. Im’ also a huge fan of the Amy’s Organic Chili line. I usually have the spicy variation with the red label but since I’m making these up for my children, I opted for the medium chili instead. In fact, it’s not spicy at all, so don’t let “medium” throw you off.
I fired up my trusty Weber and tossed a couple of the Park’s Finest on the grill. Didn’t take long for them to look, well, good enough to eat:
Not quite ready to eat them, though, because we have lots of stuff to add!
While those were grilling to perfection, I chopped up the onion. And really, who doesn’t like chopping onions? >sniff<
The chili went on the stove, the buns were pulled out and toasted just for a minute or so in the BBQ to crisp them up.
Then the fun part, assembly. To start, a bun + a thick slice of sharp cheddar broken in half and placed in the bun + a Park’s Finest frankfurter:
Don’t grab it yet! The messy part is yet to come.
Once the chili is nice and hot from the stove, ladle or spoon enough on to cover up the frankfurter completely, but not so much that people are going to say “do you have a knife and fork for my hot dog please?”.
Optionally (since not all my kids like onions) sprinkle on some chopped onion. The result:
See? Doesn’t that look amazing? It tastes sublime, and even if I did make a bit of a mess of things, it was totally worth it!
To recap, Park’s Finest frankfurters from Ball Park, a can of Amy’s organic “medium” chili, a package of Tillamook sharp cheddar, a package of Sara Lee wheat hot dog buns and a white onion, chopped. Cook, heat, pile on, and step outta the way because if your kids are like mine, these are going to be eaten real fast!
If you’re going to pick everything up at Safeway and it’s not yet June 1, 2014, check out the Park’s Finest coupon from Safeway.com. Saving money while eating well? That’s a win in my book.
And if you’re not American, you might be a bit confused about our obsession with hot dogs. I’ll say this for the US of A: we eat one heck of a lot of hot dogs. In fact, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, we’ll collectively eat about 7 billion hot dogs. Billion. With a “B”. In fact, Ball Park alone sells enough hot dogs each year that laid end to end it’d wrap around the Earth 4.6 times. And you’d need a crazy long bun too, right?
Give my chili dog recipe a whirl, then let me know if you liked it and how your kids enjoyed a classic, messy American meal!
Special hashtags: #StartYourGrill #CollectiveBias