We used our grill for the first time last weekend, although I have to admit all we grilled were some chicken breasts Yvonne had marinated. They were good, but with summer in the air and the baseball season just around the corner it’s time to have friends over to grill some burgers and dogs.
I don’t know about you but nowadays the first thing that comes to mind when I think about grilling some burgers is, “pink slime.” I personally don’t think we need to get hung up about this. If you stopped for burgers at a fast food restaurant over the past couple of years you probably ate some pink slime and didn’t mind it a bit. And I’m guessing those burgers were just as tasty as the non-slime burgers they’re serving today, and contained about the same amount of artery clogging cholesterol.
It’s interesting what a difference the name of a product makes in our willingness to accept it. If a supermarket advertised, “Fresh Cut Lean Finely Textured Beef – only $3.19 a pound and great for grilling,” most people would consider it a great buy and would enjoy their burgers. But call the same product pink slime and, well, we all want to barf.
Before you get too uppity about not wanting to eat pink slime, think about what you were putting in your mouth the last time you ate a fat juicy hot dog. The exact recipe for hot dogs varies from brand to brand, but I don’t think by very much. I did a bit of research and came up with three easy steps for making your own hot dogs.
Step One: Start with a mechanically separated blend of your favorite meats – pork, beef, chicken, or turkey. It really doesn’t matter whether you prefer “100% pure” beef, turkey, or chicken dogs over traditional hot dogs made with a blend of these meats and pork, because it’s all just “meat trimmings” anyway. The important thing is that the meat trimmings are mechanically separated by a machine that removes the edible meat from the bone and then whips it into a nice thick, slurry, batter-like consistency that is perfect for shaping into hot dogs. If you’re like me, the last thing you want to worry about when you’re eating a hot dog is whether you might chomp down on a chunk of bone.
Turning those meat trimmings into an oozing emulsified goo takes care of that. Oh, and by the way, if you prefer to have your mechanically separated meat sliced, this gooey product is also great for making bologna. Come to think of it, bologna is just a giant hot dog cut into thin slices, with a little variation in seasoning.
Step Two: Place the gooey mixture of meat into a big kettle; add some water and just enough red dye to change the color of the meat from dishwater gray to hot dog pink; next add some meat fat and egg whites for texture, and some bread crumbs or oatmeal for filler; and, finally, add your favorite blend of seasonings such as garlic, pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg, onion, and, of course, lots of salt.
Step Three: After thoroughly blending these ingredients, cut the small intestines of a sheep into lengths of 6 to 12 inches, depending on how long you want the hot dogs to be. You might even want to save the meat trimmings from the sheep to run through that mechanical extruding machine to make a separate batch of sheep dogs. Next, squeeze the gooey meat blend into the sheep intestines; carefully tie off each end of the sheep intestines to make the individual hot dogs; then cook the dogs in a smoker at 165 degrees just long enough to kill any germs.
And, voila, you have your own homemade hot dogs! Now you’re ready to invite some friends over for a grill-out to enjoy your hot dogs. But remember, some people prefer burgers so don’t forget to pick up a couple pounds of Fresh Cut Lean Finely Textured Beef to make some juicy burgers. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.
George Brown is a freelance writer. He lives in Jackson Township.