This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kingsford. The opinions and text are all mine.
I have vivid memories of my dad wearing a t-shirt that had writing on it that read “the Cubs will be fine in ’79.” He wore that shirt well into the 80’s. He was the quintessential Cubs fan. Die-hard. Loyal. And he passed that love of the team onto his two daughters.
While the Cubs were, in fact, not fine in ’79, they finally got it together in 2016 to break a one-hundred and eight year World Series drought. Two weeks after my dad passed away from stage four colon cancer.
This sounds like a sad story, but it’s not. Because my dad, through his passion and love of the game, passed on a tradition that keeps him with us in spirit with every game we watch and every time we light the grill to make hot dogs. Baseball and barbecue were two of his favorite things, and a Chicago-Style char dog brings his memory alive, whether we enjoy them at Wrigley Field, or right at home.
Making a Chicago-Style hot dog at home isn’t too difficult but it does require some specific items to get it “just right” and worthy of my dad’s approval.
First the grill. Must. Have. Fire. But no wimpy gas grills allowed. You need a charcoal grill so you can create a smoky, charred sear to the food. That earthy scent of flames hitting food is an integral part of the American baseball experience.
Along with said grill, you need fuel – aka charcoal. Kingsford is an official partner of Major League Baseball and they have a fantastic new cookbook called Taste of The Game that is filled 30 recipes inspired by Major League Baseball. This book will teach you how to create your favorite team’s signature recipe, but also help you taste traditional recipes from major baseball cities across the country.
St. Louis Ribs, Milwaukee Brats, Toronto Pulled Pork Poutine, Texas Brisket, Philadelphia Cheesesteak, Chicago-Style Char Dogs are just a few of the delicious regional recipes you can find in this book. Of course, I had to start with the Chicago-Style Char Dog recipe because it is the signature recipe of the Chicago Cubs, but I am looking forward to trying them all.
Of course, the first step for any of these recipes is to light the grill. I love this part. It’s just so primitive in a way.
Then you prep your ingredients. You start a classic Chicago hot dog by splitting each dog in half. You want as much of the surface area of the hot dog exposed to the flames as possible for the ultimate charred experience.
A Chicago hot dog also has a toasted bun. It only takes a second or two, otherwise you end up with some extra char on them. They still taste delicious.
Assembly of the Chicago Char Dog is critical and specific and you simply must include a few key ingredients or risk being mocked by Cubs fans and Chicagoans. First, ketchup is not allowed. If you must have ketchup, you better hide it under all of the other ingredients. Also, celery salt is a must. It adds that extra bit of oomph that you didn’t realize was missing. Bright green relish is the suggested type of relish, but we allow you to compromise there without mocking you. It’s harder to find.
The order in which you assemble the ingredients is less critical. Just get them ALL on there.
There is nothing like the sound of the hot dog vendor at Wrigley Field yelling with a cadence in his voice that you can hear over a roaring crowd; “Hot dogs, get your hot dogs here!” and watching your money get carried down the row of people and your foil wrapped Chicago dog being passed back down to you. It’s an experience that lives in my memories and will forever hold a special place in my heart.
To be able to relive those memories right at home helps keep my dad’s spirit and passion alive. It’s more than just baseball and hot dogs. It’s tradition. It’s family. It’s an important part of who we are.
Do you love baseball? Or maybe you just love barbecue. No matter which team you enjoy (ahem, go Cubs, go!), and what your favorite food is, you will find something delicious in Kingford’s Taste of The Game cookbook.
You can check out the recipes on Kingsford’s website, or you can order the cookbook here: Taste of The Game cookbook on Amazon. Trust me when I say this would make a great gift for the baseball fan in your life.