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Making Hot-Dogs (Frankfurters)
         Summer is here and that means Barbecue, and what's a barbeque without Hot Dogs? This is a delicious recipe and walkthrough on making your own hotdogs. The Recipe is from the Ultimate Sausage Making Book, ofcourse we're talking about none other than Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing by Rytek Kutas. The recipe is for 20 lbs. of hotdogs, so adjust accordingly for however much you wish to make (each 5lbs of meat equals 1 tsp. INSTACURE #1 if smoking)... the recipe and tools needed are located on our Checklist Page. There's nothing like serving up your own homemade hot dogs at a BBQ and smiling with pride at the guests' reaction. First, to the taste which will beat any store-bought brand, hands-down. Second, the fact that you saw the meat through the entire process (no mysterious additives ) and it was produced through your own hard work. The process may seem a little tedious at first but, the end-result will more than pay off... Click Here or use your browser to return to Tutorials Page. Ok, enough jibber-jabber. Let's move on to the first step.


Step One : Preparation

         Getting everything ready and in place is almost half the work. Make a checklist similar to Ours (Picture #1 & #2). The Pork to Beef ratio is entirely up to you, our 3:2 Beef is taken directly from a tried and true recipe from Great Sausage Recipes Book (GSR). It came out fantastic for us, and should also for you. Also, the Paprika ingredient gives the final product a nice reddish tint, if you do not want that then just leave the Paprika out entirely. The recipe also notes that if someone finds the lightly bitter taste of Mace objectionable, the 2 Tablespoons can be substituted with 2 oz.(10 Tbs) of ground Coriander (a slightly less bitter spice). We kept the recipe entirely intact, Paprika and Mace included. The Mace mixes in very well and is largely unidentifiable in the hot dog, and the Paprika gives it color (not a terrible thing for a dull-looking dog, right?). Now, both the Beef and Pork should be very lean (the dry milk / soy protein will do most of the binding instead of the fat). Cut everything that looks fatty or that you may not want to eat, like the gland in the pork butt (if there is one)(Picture #3 from GSR). The Beef Chuck (your choice of cut) shouldn't have much baggage to deal with aside from a little defatting. At the end of this step the meat should be sitting in a cooler / fridge awaiting the grinding phase. The ingredients also should be ready for the next step (Picture #1).

         One more thing to do before beginning the wiener experiment. Cleaning all the tools and machines before using them is a vital step that shouldn't be overlooked. We want to make hotdogs that won't make people sick, efficient cleaning will give us a leg-up on that. Clean the grinder parts thoroughly, the stuffer, food processor, knives, everything that will come into contact with the meats.

Picture #1
Spices and Seasonings for Mixing
Picture #2
Equipment for Makin' Dogs!
Above, are the ingredients used in our tutorial for HotDogs. We did not smoke the hotdogs or use InstaCure (included in picture). The Non-Fat Dry Milk was also added but, not included in this shot.
Some Equipment for Hot Dog production. (Food Lug missing). Left of the spices is the 4 Cups of Non-Fat Dry Milk in a container, it will seem like a lot but, it really is just right for the recipe.


Step Two : Grinding and Mixing

         The meat should be removed from the cooler when it gets to just above freezing (mid 30°s is perfect). Cut them into pieces to fit your grinder's hopper, we're using our 3/4 HP #8 Electric Grinder, any grinder will do. The grinding plate should have very fine holes, 3/16" Plate or 1/4" Plate. Grind the Pork and Beef together into a Food Lug, and mix together well (Picture #4). We had an unused coffee grinder that we used to grind up some of our seeded spices. Sprinkle the ground ingredients over the meat, mix everything together thoroughly. Latex gloves are helpful here because it is cleaner, without them you can contaminate everything you touch and washing off the meat isn't the easiest thing to do (if you wear gloves, you just take them off and toss them in the trash, thats it). After about 5 minutes of mixing, the meat should begin to change consistency into a clumpy, sticky and a lightly grayish color (if using the Paprika, it won't get very gray). Put meat in Butcher Paper, in cooler and clean grinder before the little meat shrapnel hardens. Tips on cleaning grinder: grinding hardened leftover bread works great in (at least partly) cleaning the plate's holes, when sufficiently cleaned, spraying plates, knife, auger and even grinder itself with Silicone Lubricant will prevent future rusting, place the small parts in a plastic bag with some uncooked rice to absorb excess moisture and store.
Picture #3
Pork Butt Gland Shown
Picture #4
Grinding Away!
At the tip of the blade, the bitter tasting gland is located, it should be removed.
Picture shown has bone intact, either remove bone or buy a boneless butt.
Grinding the Pork and Beef together. Immediately after, we took our ingredients and water and mixed them in real well.


Step Three : Processing

         The Grinding/Mixing step is over and now we have to further break down the meat into a paste-like consistency using a food processor. We won't name what brand we used for emulsifying the meat because it was a messy fiasco. If you plan on going through the processing stage we HIGHLY recommend you buy a food processor that has a reputation of handling emulsification or call the manufacturer to find out. The meat got into places it shouldn't have, half way through the machine started giving off a slightly burned smell, and when we finished the motor gave out an exhausted smokey sigh. If this experiment was enjoyable for you and you plan on doing this again then doing a little research and purchasing a quality food processor is a good idea. Now, we can't let the meat get too warm and when it is being processed it will of course warm up very quickly. So, keep ice water closeby. Add small amounts of water to the concoction to keep the temperature down and make it easier on the processor, be careful not to over-do-it with the water (avoid pooling). The best way to do this phase is fairly speedily. You can wipe the paste off the side walls with a spatula or fingers (fingers worked better for us, careful, blades sharp), and put the splattered meat back into the center. We did about 2-3 lbs of the meat at a time and after each pasty bunch, we placed it in butcher paper (use any food safe container/material) and in the fridge. And so on with the next batch, til the fridge is filled with our pulpy meat. NOTE: The food processor we purchased was not cheap (about $100) and we still had problems with it. To skip the risk, you can emuslify by regrinding the meat two times with a 3/16" or 1/4" plate (smaller the better) in your grinder. The consistency may not be as pasty but, it will taste just as good and may save you a stress headache.

Picture #5
Processing Utensils, Clean
Picture #6
Processing Utensils, Meaty
Ground and Mixed Meat in the Food Lug. Processor at the ready, cup of ice-water and spatula for scraping off the sides (hands worked better...)
Processor emptied of emulsified pasty hot dog meat. Obviously, the messy part. Two loads of emuslified meat gave us about 5lbs, we packed it in butcher paper and immediately put it in our cooler.


Step Four : Stuffing

         Now for one of the funnest (yet tricky) parts of the process, stuffing the meat into casings. We will be using 24-26MM Sheep Casings which, when stuffed, are little over a plump 1" in diameter. The 3/4" Diameter Stuffing Tube is a bit of a stretch so we are going to use the 1/2" Diameter instead. The stuffer is our TSM 5 Lb. Capacity Model. If you plan on smoking the hotdogs, remember to link in even numbers... for example, 2 sets of 12 links or 3 sets of 8 links, whatever the number just better to make it even. It is much easier to hang an even number of links, it will prevent one side from pulling the other down, and if they are equal length links, they're less likely to touch the Smoke Diffuser in your smokehouse. One more note on smoking before we begin; if your smoking the hotdogs AND you prefer to use Collagen Casings instead of Natural, make sure you use "Smoked" and NOT "Fresh" Collagen Casings. OK, lets get started. [This part deals only with Natural Casings] The casings come in bundles called hanks. Each hank can be very long and untying them can be quite a chore. What I like to do is find a loose one and keep pulling it till it's stuck. Now I place the entire knotted bundle on a clean surface and start working on it. If you have roughly 5 feet, its long enough, cut it and place it in a small container with warm water. Move on to the next casing and do the same. Be absolutely sure to flush the casings thoroughly (Picture #7,8). When you untangle a casing, open one end and with the faucet lightly open fill the at least half with water, when the "water-sausage" (Picture #8) gets to about half-way, gently push the water through the end (always watching for knots, it would be a shame to burst a casing before it sees any meat). Remove any water left in the unused casings, mix liberally with Purified Salt, repack tightly in a plastic bag and place in the back of the fridge for storage. When loading the casings on the tube always put more on than less. Casings are relatively cheap, they have incredibly long shelf-life, and a single plastic bag sold by us has about 100 Yards of casing. So if there is a little bit left on the tube after the meat is gone, its better to just throw it away.


Picture #7
Flushing Casings
Picture #8
Water Sausage, flushing
Flushing Casings with water is always a must before stuffing. Be sure the casing being flushed is immersed in water and not knotted anywhere.
Getting a nice water sausage going will ensure sufficient flushing. Be careful that the casings don't get sucked down the sink's drain (hate it when that happens).


Stuffing Continued

         A quick note on inserting casings on the tube, try your best to put the casings on straight and not turn them either way. When you notice the casing beginning to tighten in front due to twisting, do NOT force it on the tube or try to untwist it by turning the part thats already on the tube. Those twists will exit just as they entered and your hot dogs will be turned around. If it is less than half-way up the tube I would take the whole thing off and unwind it. If you have a lot of casing already on, hold what's on the tube and (you may need an extra hand) untwist it with the other end. Getting the tube and casing thoroughly wet will prevent casings from getting stubborn when applying, have warm water handy. Now that we have the casings on, leave about an inch of casing hanging off the tube . Start cranking and once the meat starts pushing its way out the tube, pinch shut the casing a little to get a nice shape going right at the start (Picture #9). If you have someone with you have them help you get a coil going so its not snaking it's way off the edge of your table. At the end of any long stuffed casing, be sure to leave an inch or two of empty casing. Now start at one end, move down the sausage to where you want the first dog to end, gently with forefinger and thumb massage away some of the meat in that part, turn the new dog clockwise making a link. You should use that one (or something its length) as a model for the rest, or "eye-ball-it". Remember, each new link needs to be turned the opposite direction than the one before it, so the next one should be turned counter-clockwise and so on. Bursted casings are just as likely to occur during the linking phase as the stuffing phase... be careful when linking. But, if you have any bursted ones, just empty them and fry them up for a little teaser of what's ahead in the finished product. If your giving them a light smudge in a smoker later, don't forget to prick out the air-pockets. Ofcourse I have a utensil specific to each task, this is the Sausage Pricker... but, you can use anything from a toothpick to a sterilized sewing needle. Smoking = Skip to Step 6. Not Smoking = Go to Next Step.

Picture #9
Stuffing Start
Picture #10
Pinching at the start. Casing thoroughly moist and towards the front. Meat is very cold (condensation on cylinder). Water close-by. Table is wet for easy sausage sliding.
Starting a coil. Our casings were bursting more often than usual so we stuffed them a little more loosely, later tightening them by gently squeezing. If linked and you want the links separated individually, wait a minute or two before cutting so the linked ends don't come undone.
Picture #10
Hot Dog Coil
Picture #11
Finished Dogs, Ready for Cookin'
The casings were giving us a hard time, this was the only time we got the whole 5 lb cylinder through in one stuff without bursts. Had to take a picture.
Beautiful Lookin' Dogs!


Step Five : Parboil, Grill and Eat

         *If you are not smoking the product, there is no need for INSTACURE #1 to be in the ingredients. The product will need to be partially boiled to precook the meat, afterwards they can be simply reheated on a grill, boiled, or pan-fried. To parboil, place the dogs in a pot of cold water and gradually bring up the water's temperature, do not exceed 180°F water temperature or you risk breaking the casings. If you have a meat thermometer, the dogs should be at or over 152°F to be considered cooked. If no thermometer, about 15-20 minutes on simmer should be alright, use your better judgement. You should eat one or two soon after they are cooked to get an idea of how they will taste, I would recommend you eat one plain and the next with your favorite condiments (being a Buffalo Boy I eat mine with Ketchup, Webers mustard, Broadway Market Horseradish, and Relish...mmmm). Try a few pan-fried with some vegetable oil, the outside nicely caramelizes in the oil, delicious. You can save them for 2 weeks in the refrigerator, for preserving over two weeks time, freeze. Enjoy folks!



Step Six : Smoking / Steaming

         The Smoking phase is entirely optional and for hot dogs I can't imagine you would want it to taste very smoky or have a dark smudge on it but, to each his own. First, be sure when hanging the links that they don't touch each other or the walls, the smoke will not get into those contact points. You should have a temperature probe inside the biggest and furthest away (from the heating element) sausage for a clear internal meat temperature and a separate inside smoker temperature. When they are set to go, you must dry the wieners by setting the smoker to 120°F with the Smoke Diffuser atop the heating element and dampers wide open for about an hour, or until the dogs' casings are dry to the touch (No Smoke!). I would recommend you not smoke anymore than 3 hours. By wetting the sawdust more than normal, the smoke will not be as forceful. After casings are done drying, set to 130°F, bring up the temperature 10°F every hour until you get to 160°F (damper open 1/2 whole time). Smoke to your liking. After smoking, you can go straight to steam. We steam in our smoker by placing a large bowl of freshly boiled water onto the heating element (remove diffuser entirely) and setting the temperature all the way up, this will bring the meat temperature past 152°F fairly quickly. When steam cooking in your smoker, remember to prevent any steam from escaping (especially from the chimney/damper) by sealing cracks with either towels or other means. If steaming is not an option, no worries, only patience. Set the temp. to about 165°F, making sure the temp. doesn't go over 170°F inside smoker for any period of time because any fat that is inside will melt and drip down along with moisture. Our dogs have very little fat so the dripping may not be terribly dangerous but, this higher temperature will also cause your dogs to shrivel, and nobody likes a wrinkly shriveled dog! Once the internal meat temperature is at least 152°F in a few dogs, they are done. Take them out, and give them a cold shower under the sink until the internal temp. goes down to about 110°F. I always cut off a little sausage right after smoking/steaming is done and before cold showering for a victory snack. You can hang them in room temperature until they are sufficiently dried and reach your desired bloom. Finally, they should be put in a cooler until their internal reaches about 50°F. Yes, it is a bit of work but, it shouldn't seem like a chore. If you do this ONCE, you will not soon forget how it's done and the next time it will be done quicker and the final product will only get better. Personalize the recipe, make some tweaks and call it your own.


Step Seven : ENJOY!!

         We made this batch for our 4th of July party but, anytime is the perfect time for some good ole fashioned American Hot Dogs. I wouldn't dream of giving any grilling advice to you folks since most people I know take pride in their BBQ wisdom. I hope this tutorial was written in an informative and understandable style and English. I also hope that you have as great a time making these tasty dogs as you surely will eating them with friends and family. Take Care!


Rookie Sausage Maker,

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