April showers bring May flowers, as well as several other reasons to celebrate glorious spring. Like Cinco de Mayo, a favorite excuse to drink and devour all things divinely Mexicano.
Mustard your courage, relish something new and ketchup with old friends. Here’s a dog that’s muy caliente. Like the burger, creative cooks are desperately seeking new tricks for old dogs, dressing buns in big, fat style with spicy southwestern chili, chopped avocado, cheese, ‘maters, scallions and a handful of crushed tortilla chips. To round out this fabulous fiesta, serve with chilled gazpacho and ice-cold cerveza.
Southwestern Chili Dogs
Makes 8 chili dogs
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
Coarse salt and cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons minced dried onion
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon hot chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
14-ounce can tomato sauce
4-ounce can diced green chilies
1 cup beer
1 tablespoon honey
8 hot dogs, preferably kosher
8 Coney style hot-dog buns
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, or more to taste
2 large tomatoes, diced
4 Haas avocadoes, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup tortilla chips, crushed
In a medium stockpot over medium-high heat, brown ground beef, seasoning with salt and pepper. As meat browns, add onion, cumin, paprika, chili powder, oregano and cinnamon. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Add liquid smoke, tomato sauce, chilies, beer and honey, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until thickened.
As chili simmers, grill hot dogs. To build the chili dogs, place meat in bun, top with chili, cheese, chopped tomatoes, diced avocadoes, scallions and crushed tortilla chips.
Diva Confession: Elevate your hot dog experience with a few tablespoons of butter and a hot skillet. Melt a little butter over medium heat, then add the buns, split side down. Allow the buns to toast and caramelize in the sizzling butter, then serve. If preparing ahead, keep them warm wrapped in foil. Or nix the bun and nestle your Southwestern dogs in a soft flour tortilla, preferably fajita or soft taco size.