Well I got the idea this week to put it out there for people to ask questions and I would give my best answers for Fun Meat Fact Friday! And I only got one response… Come on y’all! Anyways, Thank you to Ian (@ianhmoore on Twitter) for sending me a whole list of great questions! You make my job of blogging about what my readers want easy! So without further adieu… from the questions received, I formed this blog unveiling the truth about hot dogs… Are you scared!? Lol. You shouldn’t be… Hot dogs are in fact delicious and there’s really nothing to FEAR about eating them.
Question 1: “What’s the difference between a hot dog and sausage?”
Fun Meat Fact #1: A hot dog is TECHNICALLY a type of sausage because essentially all a sausage is meat that is ground and mixed with spices. What separates a hot dog from a sausage is the fact that it is usually ground more fine than a sausage or more commonly, emulsified. The fine ground meat is then mixed with seasonings (usually rather mild in flavor), stuffed into casings, and then cooked. There is so much variety in hot dogs that I could make a whole blog post out of it really.
Fun Meat Fact #2: The most IMPORTANT thing to note about hot dogs is in fact the VARIETY. Not all hot dogs are the SAME. If you’re concerned about finding a good quality hot dog, it is important to read the label! Some of my favorite hot dogs are in fact, not made by my own store, but indeed are commercially processed hot dogs.
Question 2: “…. Hot dogs and sausages are made from bits of animals you just don’t want to know about, is this true?”
Much to my dislike, hot dogs get an AWFUL reputation for being made of all sorts of “un-named animal parts”, we joke about chicken lips, hog snouts, etc. This misnomer is actually the NUMBER ONE reason people give me for not liking hot dogs. When in fact, in SOME cases this may be SOMEWHAT true. However, Fun Meat Fact #3: in MOST cases hot dogs are made up of all meat ingredients and let me promise you, no chicken lips are put in your hot dogs. And even if there were, it would be listed on the label. According to USDA, hot dogs require “not less than 15% of one or more kinds of raw skeletal muscle meat with raw meat byproducts. The byproducts (heart, kidney, or liver, for example) must be named with the derived species and be individually named in the ingredients statement.” So my statement above stands, if you are indeed worried about what may be in your hot dogs, READ THE LABEL! USDA also requires that all ingredients be listed in order predominance from highest to lowest. Fun Meat Fact #4: ALL ingredient statements on meat are also required to be approved by a USDA inspector. Our inspector has approved all of our ingredient statements AS WELL AS approved all of our formulations (recipes). So even IF we were trying to feed everyone chicken lips in our hot dogs, he would make sure we met restrictions put out by USDA.
With all this said, we only make one kind of hot dog so here’s the run down on how our hot dogs are produced. Our hot dogs are made out of beef (usually chuck) and pork (pork shoulder butt) which is ground through a fine ground plate three times. This grinding process is taking the place of an emulsifier which would do this for us in one easy step. Seasonings are then mixed in, exactly in the same manner our sausages are made. There are, in fact, standard hot dog seasonings (usually containing salt, garlic, and paprika). A typical hot dog flavor profile tends to be mild, not containing heavy pepper or other added ingredients. The meat is then stuffed into sheep casings and smoked (essentially cooked).
We call our style of hot dogs “Old Fashioned Hot Dogs” due to the fact that we use a natural casing much like the traditional production method of hot dogs whereas synthetic casings dominate commercial production. The meat is stuffed into synthetic casings, smoked (or cooked), and then actually taken out of the casing which is called skinned. Leaving a skinless hot dog which maintains it’s shape.
Either way you like it, it’s all considered a hot dog and has to meet standards put out by USDA. So Happy Friday Everyone and go enjoy a HOT DOG will ya!? Just make sure it’s not one like this… Ha!