If these easy-prep, fun-to-eat hot dogs are good enough for Jacques Pépin, master chef and friend of Julia Child, they're good enough for us!
This dish goes back to my days of working at the Howard Johnson Commissary in Queens Village. The commissary turned out tons of hot dogs, among many other products, and I had fun preparing them in unconventional ways: sliced in stew with beans or in soups, in salads with a mustard sauce, or with cabbage. I do not remember exactly how we invented the “curly dog.” It involved cutting the hot dogs in such a way that they curled as they cooked. Each dog is cut halfway through lengthwise and then with about 12 crosswise slits, so when it cooks in a skillet, it curls into a “dented” wheel. I knew my granddaughter Shorey would enjoy making curly dogs with me so I included them in my new book A Grandfather's Lessons.
I like pork and beef hot dogs, but any hot dogs will do. Only one hamburger bun is used for both the hot dogs, half a bun for each curly dog to sit on, and the centers are filled with the relish.
Curly Dogs with Pickle Relish
2 hot dogs
1 teaspoon peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
1 hamburger bun (about 2 ounces), split in half
About ½ cup pickle relish (homemade or store-bought)
1. With a sharp paring knife, cut the hot dogs lengthwise about halfway through the meat. Then make crosswise cuts in each one, spacing them about inch apart and cutting about halfway through the meat; you should have about 12 cuts on each hot dog.
2. Heat the oil in a sturdy skillet. Add the hot dogs and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan so the hot dogs roll over and brown on all sides. They will start curling up into wheels.
3. Meanwhile, toast the bun until it is crusty.
4. Place a curly dog on each bun half, curling it into a wheel. Spoon the relish into the centers and serve.
(And just a friendly reminder that hot dogs can be a choking hazard for kids under age 4! So when feeding your littlest ones cut the cooked curly dog into small pieces before serving.)