Chef Eric LeVine & the Underestimated Hot Dog

July 12, 2016
Chef Eric LeVine

Eric LeVine, an award-winning chef, restauranteur, and author, recognizes the hot dog’s blank-slate appeal, and is adding some amazing recipes to his menus at Paragon Tap & Table and Morris Tap & Grill in New Jersey. Just in time for National Hot Dog Month, look for the Chicken & Waffle “Hot Dog” (slathered in country gravy and maple mustard), the Pig on a Pig (a hot dog wrapped in bacon with bacon slaw and bacon jam), or the Waygu Dog (a tempura Waygu hot dog topped with kimchi and wasabi).

The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that Americans will eat more than 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Clearly, it’s time to rethink the common hot dog, and kick up our topping game a notch.

5 Questions for Chef Eric LeVine
Edible talked with Eric LeVine and here's what he had to say about toppings, parties, and more. 

What's the best way to cook a hot dog indoors? The best way to cook a hot dog inside is by using a cast iron skillet which gives the dog a nice crisp on the outside.

What are some of your favorite hot dog toppings? My favorite toppings are truly influenced by the seasons. For instance, in the spring and summer months I prefer to choose lighter toppings like salsa and pickled vegetables. In the winter and fall months, chili pairs well with a hot dog.

If you were throwing a hot dog party at home, what would it include? For a party at home, make sure you serve an assortment of flavors. Offer guests chicken, pork, and seafood dogs with different bun options like brioche, traditional, potato, and even tortillas.

What, in your opinion, is the worst thing that could ever happen to a hot dog? The worst thing you can do to a hot dog is boil it. When you boil, you lose the flavor and the texture.

Can you give us one of your fantastic hot dog recipes? Here’s how to make Hot Dog Tacos.

Hot Dog Taco from Chef Eric LeVine

Eric LeVine’s Hot Dog Tacos

Cheese Sauce
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ cup milk
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp white pepper
1 large jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
1 ½ cup cheddar cheese (I use a combination of regular and sharp cheddar)

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in the milk, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, and jalapeno pepper. Cook until slightly thickened, about 10-15 minutes.

1 medium tomato, diced
1 onion, finely chopped
½ fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 sprigs fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a medium bowl, combine tomato, onion, jalapeno pepper (to taste), cilantro, and green onion. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Stir until evenly distributed. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place your hot dog in a soft taco shell, drizzle the cheese sauce first, then top with shredded cabbage and pico.