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Those of us lucky enough to have backyards have been busy puttering about — cleaning out flower beds, pruning back shrubs, organizing the garage, and putting together a list of bedding plants and vegetables required for this year’s gardening season.
It’s been quite enjoyable to turn off the TV (no more Tiger King!) and dig in the dirt (hello ladybugs!). Spring has a way of pushing out the cobwebs and giving us something to look forward to. They don’t call it rebirth for nothing.
Spending more time outside has made life with the pandemic just a little bit easier. And, it’s also made me excited for all of the grilled food coming my way over the next few months.
With the May long weekend being the unofficial start to summer, I’ve dusted off the barbecue, replaced the propane, and I’m ready to get my grill on. The first recipe out of the gate is the classic hotdog, but it’s gone all fancy.
I admit that I’m pretty picky about my hotdogs. I don’t eat them that often, but when I do, I go all out. They have to have a good amount of charred crispy bits, and are preferably cooked over an open flame, in the woods, with your best friends gathered around you.
The stars poke out of the night sky, and you know that you’ll stay up too late telling stories. The burnished, almost burnt dog is slipped into a soft bun, slick with mustard, grilled onions, and relish. You’ll devour it, then slide another one onto a stick and into the fire it goes. That’s the dream hotdog scenario.
When I don’t have a campfire in the woods at my disposal, this fancy backyard grilled dog is a close second, and it’s still pretty dreamy and so darn pretty.
This dog is garnished with quick-pickled carrots, lots of crunchy veg, bright cilantro, and a little heat from the sliced jalapenos. The grilled all-beef hotdog is nicely nestled in a fresh panini bun slathered with a spicy Sriracha mayo.
There’s a little bit of everything here: crunch and crust, sauce and spice, heat and sweet. Every bite is bursting with flavour, and you’ll wonder why you haven’t had a fancy hotdog like this before.
Be sure to prep the pickled carrots at least one day in advance, but they are so good you’ll want to have a jar in the fridge all summer long. Other than that, the prep is simple, which is what we want with summer food.
There are only a few months of these glorious summer days ahead of us. Time, it goes. So, promise me that you’ll make these next few months the best ever, all the while practising physical distancing, of course.
Eat things that make you happy. Get outside and do something that makes you sweat. Invite a few good pals over for food off the grill. Drink cold drinks. Tell stories until the stars come out. Maybe you’ll have to sit six feet apart, but that’s all right. I’ve got a big backyard and there is plenty of room for a few of us to be together. We just have to be careful, and be smart about it all.
BANH MI HOTDOGS
Quick Pickled Carrots:
3/4 cup vinegar (rice vinegar if you have it, otherwise plain white is fine)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4-inch slice fresh ginger
1/2 pound carrots, cut into matchsticks
3 Tbsp mayo
2 tsp Sriracha
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 panini buns, or one fresh baguette sliced into 4 pieces
2 mini cucumbers, sliced in quarters lengthwise
4-5 radishes, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced
4 grilled all-beef hotdogs or smokies
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1. To prepare the carrots, combine the vinegar, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the slice of ginger. Cover and let the mixture infuse while you slice the carrots.
2. Pack the matchstick carrots into a clean 1 pint (500 mL) jar. Pour the brine over the carrots and seal the jar. Allow the carrots to cool completely at room temp and then place in the fridge. Pickle for about 24 hours before eating, but if you can’t wait that long, then an hour or two is fine.
3. Stir together the ingredients for the Sriracha mayo and set aside.
4. To assemble the hotdogs, spread some Sriracha mayo on each side of the bread. Top with the cucumber, radish slices, some pickled carrots and a few jalapeno slices. Nestle in the grilled hotdog. Top with cilantro leaves and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020