Making Tony Packos Chili Dogs

The only thing most people know about my home town of Toledo, Ohio comes from MASH. That series starred a guy named Jamie Farr who, aside from Katie Holmes and Adrianne Palicki is probably the most famous person from there. His character, Clinger, was also from Toledo and therefore he represented his hometown by way of Mud Hens and Tony Packos references. The former is our minor league baseball team and the latter is a local restaurant that specializes in hot dogs and pickls. In fact, you might have seen the restaurant on food shows because they have any visiting celebrities sign a hot dog bun and then said buns get put on display.

To be honest, I don’t have a long history with the restaurant, at least not when I lived in town. I think I only ever went to one of the restaurants once and then they opened one in a local supermarket called Andersons that I went to a few times. But, when I met my future wife and she told her parents where I was from, her dad got excited because he’s a big MASH fan. As such, I started giving them Tony Packos pickle sets. That’s really where I discovered how tasty their pickled products are. I’m a fan of their dills but also their banana peppers.

Anyway, when my parents visited for Second Christmas, they brought with them two packages of Tony Packos hot dogs and two cans of their chili. After they went home, Em and I wanted to just have a relaxed dinner in, so I popped open the cans of chili (probably could have gotten by with just one in retrospect), warmed them up on the stove and then got a pot of water boiling for the dogs. I also got the steamer basket ready and put the buns in there. Unfortunately, I put just a little too much water in the pan and those buns got ruined. We had more, so those went back into the basket with less water with a lid and we were good to go.

The chili is actually spicier than I remember, but I thought the Hungarian hot dogs and chili popped so well with some basic yellow mustard. I probably should have cut up a few onions and mixed those in there too, but that’ll be next time. If you’re curious about trying Tony Packos yourself, either go to Toledo — they could use your tourism bucks — or click that link above and you can order a ton of stuff, including these handy dandy gift packs (one even comes with a Mud Hens hat!).

Bonus Food Pic: Mini Corn Dogs At The Renegades Game!

A few weeks back we went to a Hudson Valley Renegades baseball game with some friends. The game actually wound up being a pretty good one, but I was more impressed with the food. Actually, I’m not sure if “impressed” is the right word. It’s not like I was moved by the experience, I’m just a really big fan of corn dogs. How can you go wrong with tiny corn dogs that are even easier to eat? Back in high school, one of the few days I would actually buy lunch was corn dog day and then in high school, I loved when the cook in our fraternity house made them for lunch. I also am drawn to them every time we go to a fair and whatnot. Corn dogs forever!

Cooking French Fries & Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

After watching so many food travel shows, I’ve become a bit fascinated with how different places prepare hot dogs. Back home, hot dogs were always a pretty simple affair: throw some Oscar Meyers’ on the grill, put in a bun and decide if you want ketchup, mustard or relish (I do not like relish, normally). While flipping around the All Recipes app, I came across one for Chicago-Style Hot Dogs and decided to pair them up with Oven French Fries also found on AR.com.

The fries actually took a lot more time to put together than I expected and suffered a bit for my poor time management. You’re supposed to soak the cut potatoes in cornstarch, water and soy sauce for an hour, but I only went about 45 minutes with them because I wanted to get eating. The results were pretty uneven, with some fries being very good and others a bit too crunchy. Next time, I’ll try to follow the recipe a lot closer. I almost didn’t write about them because they didn’t turn out well, but figured my goof might help you guys out. I’ll give them another shot probably sooner rather than later as it’s summer and fries go with everything.

The hot dogs themselves were mostly prep work. We have a stock pot that comes with several steamers. One goes much further down into the pan, that’s the one I used for steaming vegetables. There’s one that only goes four or five inches down from the top that I’d never used before, but it worked out perfectly for steaming the buns. See, put three or four inches of water in the pot and got that boiling. When it was ready I cooked the all-beef dogs for about five minutes and then put the smaller steamer tray in to do the dogs without turning the heat off. I also chopped up the onion, tomatoes and banana peppers. The recipe called for sport peppers, but I have no idea what those are and I already have the best banana peppers around from Toledo’s own Tony Packos, so I was good to go.

I made my first dog to the specifications of the recipe (I love that it’s written out for one dog at a time), except for the poppyseed buns which I could not find in either the bakery section or the bread aisle. I will say this, Chicagoans do not mess around with their hot dogs. These is a strong bit of food to eat. The pickles plus the relish with onion, mustard and celery salt join forces to kick your tastebuds in the face and it’s a pretty great thing, but I decided to cut a few of the ingredients out for my second dog. Overall, though, I hope this is but the first in a series of good hot dog experiences. Got any suggestions for what I should try next time?