Fat Tuesday and A Hot Dog in Every Pot

I can hear my daughter now, “where does she come up with this stuff”?

Pepper Weenies

“It (Mardi Gras)is a thing that could hardly exist in the practical
North… For the soul of it is the romantic, not the funny and the
grotesque. Take away the romantic mysteries, the kings and knights
and big-sounding titles, and Mardi Gras would die, down there
in the South.”
~ Mark Twain, in ‘Life on the Mississippi’

Pepper Weenies–adapted from chef David Guas’ recipe

Celebrating President’s Day, or Mardi Gras after paying for gasoline this past weekend, what can you afford, why hot dogs of course!  Who knows why this recipe caught my eye, but it has all the makings of a perky change for a real hot dog lover, nothing new for Mardi Gras partiers.  Interesting and different, I was surprised when my husband said that sounds good and is looking forward to a hot dog dinner as for me I just cook.  Hot dogs and a salad with Creole dressing certainly a departure from my Shrimp Creole, Etouffee or Gumbo for this day, but I’ll save one of those recipes for another night, in the mean time on to the pepper weenies  and what changes I’ve had to make.  Honestly, I found the marmalade cooking times too high and burned the first batch, my gas range top cooks hot and the sugar can easily burn, ruining the whole effort.  I made note of the reduced times and by all means babysit the onions.

Loved the smoked bacon and onion marmalade.  First of all I had no sweet onions as they were all marked “Peru”, I used what I already had on hand, white, yellow and a red onions, Steen’s cane syrup, ha, not here, but I made a reasonable substitute with corn syrup and molasses.  I use Phillip’s Seafood Seasoning, 30 or so pounds should last me the rest of my life, then again we use a lot for shrimp and crabs to name a few things around here, Now hot dogs, what the heck?  A tender bath, and a quick grill later, toasted buns and voila, we are done.  Drops-ins for dinner, no problem, add more hot dogs to the simmering brew…have a party.  I can see changing this up a bit by using sausages.  Not saying that this is a very healthy recipe at all, but it is a fun recipe.  Serve with a Creole vinaigrette salad.

Pepper Weenies
serves a crowd
1/2 pound Phillip’s Seafood Seasoning or (Zatarain’s Crawfish, Shrimp, & Crab Boil)
1 (or more) packages hot dogs, I had Hebrew National ¼ pounders, big hot dogs
Melted butter

Mix 8 quarts water and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil over high heat. Gently simmer hot dogs so they will not explode.  I think the skinny hot dogs would curl a bit as well.  I grilled the hot dogs, brushing with melted butter, probably not necessary, but I prefer grilled hot dog, adds a bit of char and a snap when you bite into it. 

Or, for a party, remove hot dogs from the pot and return the liquid to a boil. Cook additional hot dogs as needed.

Smoked Bacon & Vidalia Onion Marmalade
makes 6 cups
3 strips bacon, thick cut
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 pounds Vidalia onions, diced (about 5 onions) or red white and yellow onions worked well for me
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 ounces corn syrup plus 1 ounce molasses 1/4 cup Steen’s cane syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the bacon onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until each strip is evenly crispy. Remove and chop the bacon into small pieces. Set aside. While I like the bacon cooking method using that amount of energy for 3 slices of bacon is just nuts, but it cooks evenly and stays pretty flat.  I also use a slightly elevated baking rack that fits into the sheet pan to cook the bacon on so they don’t swim in bacon fat.

Toast the mustard seeds in a dry sauté pan over medium heat just until the seeds begin to dance and get slightly browned. Add the vinegar and remaining ingredients (including the bacon) to the pot. Cover and raise the temperature to medium-high. Allow the onions to sweat on the heat for about 20 minutes, stirring the pot a few times throughout. (I simmered on low for 30 minutes).  After 20 minutes, remove the cover and continue to cook on medium heat to medium low until most of the liquid is reduced and the onions are dark in color, approximately 45 minutes to one hour. (I ended up reducing the heat, stirred often and it took about 15 minutes to reduce and not burn).

Recipe link: http://www.thekitchn.com/mardi-gras-recipe-pepper-weinies-with-smoked-bacon-vidalia-onion-marmalade-166113