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The Bacon Hot Dog

Memorial Weekend is one of the most patriotic American holidays, so when we decided to have some friends over yesterday, I decided that I wanted to make bacon hot dogs. My friends don’t normally eat street food, so I thought I’d bring street food to them, and seriously, what’s more American than bacon and hot dogs? Truth be told, the bacon hot dog has its roots as street food in Mexico, but it also has a strong cult-like following in California. You can even get arrested for selling bacon hot dogs in L.A. as I’ve discussed here and here.


Bacon Hot Dogs

We normally have Niman Ranch thick-cut bacon in the fridge, but I got a tip from a friend that cheap bacon works better for this purpose because it’s thinner and easier to wrap around the hot dog. It also doesn’t add extra girth to the hot dog that would prevent the bun from closing.

I ended up using Oscar Meyer bun-length hot dogs and Bar S bacon. Next time, I’m going to try a different brand of bacon because the Bar S bacon didn’t have a very strong flavor. Otherwise, it was very easy to wrap the bacon around the hot dog. Simply wrap the bacon around itself at the end of the hot dog to hold it in place and then move down diagonally until the rest of the hot dog is covered. The process reminded me of regripping my tennis rackets back in the day.


Bacon Hot Dogs

I also had some meat glue (i.e. Activa TG-RM or transglutaminase) on hand, so I made a slurry and I brushed it on the hot dogs before wrapping them with bacon and refrigerating them to let the “glue” set. If you have access to some Activa, by all means use it.

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The Los Angeles Bacon Hot Dog War

I had my very first bacon dog right on Hollywood Blvd. I walked out of a taping of Jimmy Kimmel Live! and this amazing smell overcame me, and I said, “Goddamn! What smells so good?” This guy on the stairs pointed me toward this woman selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs from a sidewalk cart. Let’s just say that I bought and devoured one immediately.


Bacon Hot Dog Cart

Folks in San Francisco may want to claim the bacon dog cart (above) as their own because they’re pretty popular with weekend drunks leaving bars and clubs after 10pm in the Mission District. The truth is, bacon-wrapped hot dogs really belong to L.A., and you can get them from lunchtime till the wee hours of the morning (if you know where to look).

But things are not good for the bacon hot dog cart vendors in La-La Land. The L.A. Weekly recently chronicled the plight of hot dog vendors in L.A., who are now forbidden from using bacon AND grilling their hot dogs. (Boiling and steaming are the only acceptable cooking methods.)

Sound ridiculous?

They’ve actually jailed hot dog vendors like Elizabeth Palacios, who is featured in the article, for selling grilled bacon hot dogs. Palacios once served 45 days for health code violations, a sentence she said was orchestrated to “make an example” of her.

From the article:

“Honestly, I can tell you, I’ve been a working person all my life, I’ve worked since I was 9 years old,” Palacios says. “I don’t like being bothered, I don’t like being arrested. Never in my life had I been to jail, and they threw me in jail for violating the laws of the health department.”

There’s also a racial element to this story as the City of Los Angeles tries to revitalize and gentrify the downtown area and likely considers it in their best interests to “clean up” downtown for future investment and development.

“They told me, ‘The mayor wants to make this area like New York, Times Square,’ but I told them, ‘Who told him we want that? The people who come here are not like that.’ Ninety-nine percent of the people here are mexicanos. Here, you don’t really see americanos. One or two,” she says. “Why are they coming now to get us out of here? Why the abuse? Why the abuse?”

What’s worse is that while licensed hot dog vendors see the business suffer due to the restrictions, fees, and threats placed on them by overzealous city health inspectors, police and gangs, they have to watch their customers flock to the illegal bacon hot dog carts that have flourished since the ban, serving a customer base that probably doesn’t care where they come from…they just want their bacon dogs.

Will there ever be justice for the L.A.’s bacon hot dog vendors?

UPDATE: Drew Carey joins the fight.