Hot Dogs, Sonoran Style
I had a recent and very uncomfortable conversation with an older man, a PhD in Divinity, a minister for 30 years, someone one you would expect to have plenty of tact and delicacy of words. The conversation led to the following statement upon learning of my nationality (Mexican) and occupation (culinary): “Oh so do you get to eat a lot of friiijooooolesss?”
I tried to contain the twitching in my left eye, the eye that usually twitches when there is something to twitch about. It twitched, visibly. There was a bit of backpedaling on his part, a bit of mumbling on my part, but the damage was done, my national pride was wounded and for the rest of that painful conversation, my love/hate relationship with beans was my only concern.
Repeat after me, Mexican food is not just about rice and beans. Mexican food is not just about rice and beans. But beans are delicious! Rice I could do without for the rest of my life, but beans, a cheap and nutritionally rich food, are delicious and yes, an important part in the diet of many Mexicans, but repeat after me again, Mexican food is not just about rice and beans, despite the massive quantities of them that overtake almost every plate at almost every Mexican restaurant I have ever been to in the 20 years I have lived in the United States.
What is Mexican food about then? Limes? Cilantro? Chiles? Corn? Yes and no. It’s the layering of these ingredients and many more that make Mexican food; there’s no putting meat on a bun calling it dinner. There’s a sauce or two, pickled vegetables and chiles, a mound of shaved radishes, sliced avocado, cilantro, etc. between those buns. Perhaps there is an “everything in the fridge and pantry” approach to Mexican cooking, but it is never as simple as throwing in everything you have. A mouthful of earthy spice, bright sour, sharp crunchiness (crunchy is a flavor, trust me), salty, fatty, and with a creamy finish to bind it all together.
This is where that eye twitchy conversation lead me, to an imaginary taking apart and putting back together of some of my favorite dishes, thinking about them with beans, without beans, and thinking of those dishes that are made so much better with some well-seasoned beans–lard in them or not.
I’m hungry now as I think about mouthfuls of layered food, hungry as I was after that pre-lunch twitchy conversation. It’s Sunday and it’s almost time to get that charcoal grill going for some football friendly food. You’re probably thinking the same thing, but Sunday night BBQ of hot dogs with ketchup and mustard? Please. My Grandma calls that stadium style, and when was the last time you felt the love with a stadium food vendor? Better get some bacon and yes, get some beans, and make those hot dogs Sonoran style.
Sonoran-style Hot Dogs
1 cups of pinto beans
1 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Pinch of Mexican oregano
8 hot dogs and buns
8 slices of thick cut bacon
16 toothpicks, soaked in water for 15 minutes
1 yellow onion, small diced
1 tomato, small diced
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup Mexican cream
1 serrano chile
2 or 3 limes
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Soak beans in cold water and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours, or overnight. Drain and remove any debris mixed in with the beans. Place beans in a saucepot and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Crush the garlic cloves and add to the beans, along with the bay leaf and oregano. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until beans are tender but not breaking apart. Add salt and ground pepper to taste for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
While beans are cooking soak toothpicks in water for 15 minutes. Wrap each hot dog with a slice of bacon, securing it at each end with a toothpick. Heat grill to a low-medium heat and cook bacon wrapped hot dogs, turning occasionally to cook evenly, being careful to not let the bacon burn.
Place the avocado, Mexican cream, about 2 tablespoons of cilantro, and Serrano chile to taste in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Season with salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
If you prefer the onions can be caramelized, but are typically served raw. The type of mayonnaise used in Mexico is lime juice based, with a brighter finish than regular mayonnaise. It can be found at Mexican grocery stores, or it is easy to add a bit of fresh lime juice and a pinch of salt regular mayonnaise to achieve the same taste.
To assemble, spread mayonnaise on the bun, add hot dog, top with drained beans, onions, tomatoes, drizzle the avocado sauce and enjoy.