28 March 2012

« Un chien-chaud ! »

That's the French translation for "a hotdog" but nobody here would ever say that except facetiously. Actually, in French this kind of sandwich is called a « hot-dog », with a hyphen. Pronounced, it sounds a little like [ut-DUG].

We made U.S.-style hot dogs, with mustard, ketchup, and pickle relish, last week. So the next time we went to the supermarket, I bought some more saucisses de Francfort. Actually, they were saucisses de Strasbourg, which are similar to the German ones. In this season of equal time — I refer to the French presidential election — I thought we needed to make hot dogs French-style.

A French-style hot-dog, served with a gratin
of sliced potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes

One of my earliest memories of a hotdog in France dates back to 1970, when I was a student in Aix-en-Provence for a semester. There was a street vendor there who sold sausage sandwiches. His version was a hot saucisse de Strasbourg (a wiener) inserted into the middle of a hollowed-out piece of French baguette of the right length. The only condiment? Not mustard. Not ketchup. Not pickle or chile. No, just butter, melted. It was amazingly good.

Knacks are saucisses de Strasbourg — "knackwurst"
or even "knockwurst" in English.

Anyway, that's not what I recognize as a real French hot-dog. The authentic one, to me, is a saucisse on a split length of baguette dressed with Dijon mustard and melted Gruyère cheese. You put the wiener in the bread, slather it with hot mustard, and sprinkle on a good amount of grated "Swiss" cheese (Gruyère, Comté, or Emmenthal).

Baguette, saucisses, mustard, and grated cheese

Then you run the sandwich under the broiler until the cheese is completely melted and starting to brown on top. Be careful not to burn the baguette. Eat it with your hands or, better, with a knife and fork, after it's cooled slightly.

Hotdogs hot out of the oven

Some recipes I've seen call for wrapping the wiener in a slice of poitrine fumée — streaky U.S.-style bacon — but that seems to me to be a little over the top. I was tempted, though.


  1. Frankfurters they are. Where does Strasbourg come in? Most German town in France?

    They are the most commonly ordered street snack in Austria. Not as a hot dog, but with sweet mustard and a bun on the side.

  2. Here's some information on the differences between saucisses de Strasbourg and saucisses de Francfort. It's in French. In fact, the two sausages are very similar; their color is the main difference really. Frankfurters are 100% pork, apparently, while Strasbourg sausages are a mixture of beef and pork. But then « knacki » sausages from Alsace are also 100% pork, and that's what I bought at the supermarket. Evidently, the Strasbourg sausage dates back to the 16th century and, like its Frankfurter cousin, is most often eaten with sauerkraut.

  3. You even make a hot dog look scrumptious!

  4. Having Alsatian ancestry, I resent ‘saucisse de Strasbourg‘ being called a Frankfurter. In fact, it’s the other way around. There is no such thing as a Frankfurter as food; the so called ‘saucisse de Francfort’ is just a pale imitation of the ‘ saucisse Strasbourgeoise’. Na!

    Now, I crave choucroute!

    In days long gone, I remember once putting butter and then jelly on a slice of pain d’épices. My father, in his nineties, thought it was “over the top.”

  5. i agree with Judith, I might eat a hot dog if it appeared in a baguette with gruyere cheese on it

  6. "with a knife and fork" -- definitely French. But then, with so much cheese and really crispy bread, it's the only way to handle it.

  7. Years ago I went to Stockholm where they sold hot dogs with mashed potatoes on the street. I don't know if they still do this. I can't eat a hot dog without mustard.

  8. I spiral cut my beef hot dogs (there are tools for this if you're lazy!) and deep fry in peanut oil before the baguette, cheese and mustard routine. I prefer Colman's English mustard, or a quality Dijon.


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