There was a point in my life when I had every intention of naming my first-born son Satchel Paige. The legend, lore, and magic surrounding baseball has been with me ever since I found an old copy of Bernard Malamud's The Natural in a used bookstore during high school. The Hollywood movie version still chokes me up, but truly it's the dark side of legend that hooks me, Mr. Cobb. Only when I fell in love with a baseball fan did I learn to love the actual play: finding providence in a Texas-leaguer or a Baltimore chop, both marveling at and dreading a knuckle-baller on the mound, understanding the gamesmanship at stake with the delivery of a little chin music.
Needless to say, as my obsessions often run closely amuck, today isn't just Opening Day for baseball season, it's Opening Day for hot dog season. There is no better way to celebrate the game and return of the Boys of Summer than with a fat dog. If I were going to the game tonight, it would be easy to slam down a Domer Dog, but since I'll be watching from my couch, I'm going to offer up some home dogs that are worth the effort. (And maybe I could work this into some sort of plea for better concessions at the new ballpark. Sure, I'll run a hot-truck if that's what it takes.)
Biker Jim Dog: An homage to the Denver dog cart that blew me away with his gateway Alaska reindeer sausage. Split your dog/brat down the middle, and grill it. Get it in a bun; pipe cream cheese down the middle; top with caramelized onions, jalapeno peppers, pickles, spicy mustard, and ketchup. "Cream cheese and jalapenos go together like helpless women and railroad tracks." -- Jim's Karen.
BLAT Dog: Wrap your dog in bacon, secure with toothpick. Cook in saute pan so that bacon gets crispy. Remove picks, and put in bun atop a leaf of lettuce. Pile with pico de gallo and slices of avocado.
The Fatty: Using knackwurst from Kramarczuk's, simmer the giants in a shallow pan. Using a slice of sourdough to hold it, slap on aioli, some pickles, and a little shred of lettuce. The frank is ostentatious enough, you don't need to make it into a Taco Town freakshow.
Badger Dog: Grill it up, slather with Merkt's Cheddar. Go Port Wine if you're feeling fancy.
Big Bleu: Grill up your dog, top with bleu cheese, grilled onions, crushed Kettle Chips. It works, don't argue.
Gator Dog: It's got bite, y'all. Adouille sausage, tomato-onion relish, horseradish cream. Top with cilantro.
Kraut Dog: Grill up your Polish, people. Top with sauteed onions and sauerkraut. Whisk a little bit of Guinness into your Dijon, and goop it on.