This is a guest post by Sarah Sprague.
With the city of Los Angeles putting the final touches on their push to bring the NFL back to LA… What? You don’t live in Los Angeles and have no idea what is going on with football here other than UCLA Head Coach Jim Mora is getting into fights with the local media and that USC’s pre-season darling Matt Barkley has a head start on being yet another disappointing Trojan quarterback, hopefully saving us pro football fans the agony of seeing another Leinart/Sanchez/Palmer/Booty stink up the NFL? (Although you could make the argument that Palmer’s career struggles are in part the fault of Kimo von Oelhoffen, but you’ll never convince me Palmer’s injury wasn’t accidental.)
Let’s bring everyone outside of the Southland up to speed. Last Friday, the LA City Council unanimously approved the plan brought forth by the Anschutz Entertainment Group to build a new 76,000-seat stadium in downtown Los Angeles, nestled between between Staples Center, the 10/110 interchange and the LA Convention Center, which will need to have one wing torn down and replaced with another larger wing at a cost of $315 million to fit Farmer’s Field — naming rights that cost Farmer’s Insurance $700 million in early 2011. The council’s approval includes fast-tracking state environmental impact studies, which has been met with some community opposition over the legality of California SB 292 which sends all opposition filings over Farmers Field and Convention Center development directly to the court of appeals in addition to concerns over affordable housing for workers (like that exists for anyone else in Los Angeles) due in part to housing lost with the building of LA Live next door (echoes of Chavez Ravine, but with fewer bulldozers), mass transportation issues, and the general quality of life questions that come up every time a major city looks to build something of this magnitude.
But let’s back up for a second. Just two weeks ago, Philip Anschutz announced he was looking to sell his AEG subsidary, which among other things owns Staples Center, LA Kings, LA Galaxy. Is there someone who wants to buy a large entertainment company that is committing to build a $1.5 billion stadium? Meet Patrick Soon-Shiong, Los Angeles’s richest person and medical billionaire who failed to buy the Dodgers just a few years ago, who is likely to bid on AEG in a partnership with new Dodger owners, the Guggenheim Group.
Right. You need an NFL team to have a stadium. Over the summer Roger Goodell sent a memo the entire league stating that applications to move a team for the 2013 season had to be submitted between January 1 and February 15, 2013. Maybe they can play at the Rose Bowl and to help defray the cost of their over-budget renovations until Farmer’s Field is ready in 2018, except there is a pretty vocal group of Pasadena residents against any NFL team playing in their neighborhood, especially the former Los Angeles Raiders, with one local requesting that impact studies, “include a mitigation measure that the [Oakland] Raiders not be included as a possible NFL team.”
What about the rival plan in the City of Industry headed by Majestic that is supposedly shovel ready to be the first LEED-certified stadium in the country? Well, they do have a pretty active Twitter feed about tailgating, which they will have more room for than Farmer’s Field would under the current design.
All of which is a long walk to get to what I really wanted to talk about, football snacks.
If Dodger Stadium is already famous for the Dodger Dog, the most glorified ten-inches of meat in Hollywood outside of Milton Berle, the next Los Angeles home of an NFL franchise should embrace the best of LA hot dogs for its tailgates and concourses. Not Pinks, not Carney’s and not Scooby’s, although I do love the latter’s bacon cheddar dog and garlic aioli with chips.
Pro football needs the LA street dog.
The LA street dog — or “danger dogs” as locals like to call them — are found at the ubiquitous hot dog carts that pop-up outside of bars at closing time, after Staples Center, Rose Bowl, Coliseum and Hollywood Bowl events, and even just on random street corners with heavy pedestrian foot traffic. The name “danger” comes from in part, well, the danger. These bacon-wrapped hot dogs are cooked on giant steel cookie sheets along side onions, green peppers and jalapenos over hot coals or sterno in shopping carts. If you’re lucky, the person making the dogs have coolers for their hot dogs, bacon and mayonnaise, but don’t be surprised to see everything that is going onto the pan in a large bag just behind the cart.
Sure, there are a few licensed hot dog vendors that sell LA’s version of a Sonoran dog, most notably around Santee Alley in the Fashion District downtown, and hip burger joints like 25 Degrees put fancy street dogs with queso fresco on their menu, but the best ones are the hot dogs that have been turned dozens, if not hundreds, of times on the street. You smell them first, the fatty bacon, the sweetness of the onions and peppers mixing with the smoke of the charcoal that could easily ignite the sidewalk around it. Then you hear the sellers call of, “hot dog, hot dog, hot dog” before you can even see them through the crowd, spinning the dogs with tongs in one hand while adding buns to the vegetable pile to steam with the other hand. Even the most ardent Whole Foods-shopping Angeleno cannot deny the intoxicating smell of the late-night danger dog. Why? Because they’re delicious and they hit all the right spots after a couple of beers; fatty, salty, crunchy and meaty. Which is to say, they’re perfect for watching football.
Except that they’re really hard to make at home.
Go to enough tailgates and barbecues in Los Angeles and you’ll see people over and over again trying to replicate the street dog at home without success. The bacon becomes unspooled from the hot dog even when held in place with toothpicks, the hot dog is raw while the bacon is burnt, the onions are caramelized and not just softened, roasting fifteen jalapenos for every one hot dog. Every attempt almost always fails. Like others before me trying to get down the technique of perfect pork-hugged hot dog, I’ve stood and watched the hot dog sellers work their carts long enough to be asked if I was “policia” about to throw their cart in the trash. What I finally figured out after all of my hot dog stalking was that the secret to a good LA street dog was the extreme length of time it took to make each dog over the medium-low heat while constant turning the meat. I also decided after enough failed attempts that I could get the same dog taste at home for football with a lot less time and effort by making the bacon first and then cook everything in bacon fat.
Readers who have followed my Football Foodie posts for the past five seasons know I usually give pretty detailed measurements and recipes, but since this is a scalable item based on demand, here is the ratio of ingredients to use:
Dice the bacon and cook in a large skillet or flat grill top over medium heat until just about crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels, reserving at least two or three tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan to cook the onions and peppers in depending on how many hot dogs you are making.
Still over medium heat, cook the diced onions, green peppers and jalapenos until the the onions are almost translucent.
Nestle in your hot dogs in the onion and pepper mixture and cook through, turning every two or three minutes depending on how hot your stove top runs.
Just about when your hot dogs are done, reduce the heat to low add the diced bacon back to the pan and place the hot dog buns on top of the hot dogs, onions, peppers and bacon to steam for a few minutes. If your skillet lid is high enough to cover the height of your bacon dog masterpiece, you can speed up the steaming by covering the the pan but it’s not necessary.
Once the buns are soft, give each one a touch of mayo (or leave it off if you’re a mayonnaise hater like Ufford and use salsa in its place), slide on a dog and then top with the bacon, onion, peppers and jalapeno mix.
Enjoy and imagine what it’s going to be like to cheer for (or against) the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles via Anaheim.
Need more football watching-centric recipe ideas? Find the complete archive of Football Foodie recipes here.