Sometimes entertaining isn’t about the most complicated recipes and chic tableware. It’s about getting together with people you like without having to spend hours of preparation.
Keeping it easy and fun is as simple as hot dogs and old-fashioned board games, where young and old can eat together and play together. For one night, we turn off the electronics and bring all generations together for dinner that pleases all the people all the time.
For the kids, you’ll provide mustard and ketchup, of course. For the adults, we like the idea of personalizing the dogs, adding a Louisville flavor with a “hot brown” topping combination of mornay sauce (and ours is super-easy) or a German twist with a sweet and hot mustard. But the number of topping possibilities only stops when your imagination does – check our list of ideas, and add some of your own.
Marinated cucumbers provide a pickle-y (and simple) side dish and the potatoes provide a kid-friendly side dish with adult-friendly reduced fat (and mess).
For the sundae bar, scooping the ice cream ahead gives easy access to all the party-goers, and means you’re not stuck in the kitchen.
Picking the Right Frank
The debate over who makes the best frank is waged ad nauseum on hundreds of blogs and websites across the internet. We don’t propose to settle that debate today, but instead we can offer three brands that what won’t leave you disappointed: Hebrew National Beef Franks, Nathan’s Famous Beef Franks and Vienna Beef Franks. Any of the three are fine choices.
Other Dog Options
Kentucky bison frankfurters: Like an all-beef dog with a local twist. Kentucky bison is raised without hormones and antibiotics. It’s easy to find bison burgers on the menus of lots of Louisville restaurants but bison frankfurters aren’t as common. You can find them at Mike Best’s Meats, Paul’s Fruit Market, and Rainbow Blossom Natural Food stores.
Stone Cross Farm bratwurst: A cookout’s not a cookout without bratwurst. We love pork, especially when it’s local, field raised and antibiotic-free. Stone Cross Farm bratwurst can be found in the freezer section at Valu Markets, and at Companions Creek Farm’s booth, at the Beargrass Christian Church farmers market and Whole Foods farmers market.
Vegetarian dogs: The best choices for the vegetarians is Tofurkey’s Italian sausage or Field Roast apple sage sausage. These are good grilled or sautéed, which tofu hot dogs often aren’t. If you opt for a tofu hot dog, don’t grill it – simmer it for 3 minutes. Available where natural foods are sold.
Cooking the Perfect Dog
Although steam is the preferred method to cook hot dogs, cooking in water, grilling or using the microwave are also acceptable. Since hot dogs are pre-cooked all you need to do is heat the dog until it reaches approximately 170-180 degrees.
Fluky’s (a Chicago institution since 1929 and widely acknowledged as the originator of the Chicago-style hot dog) provides these instructions for cooking your hot dogs in water: Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and allow water to return to a slight simmer. (Do not cook hot dogs in boiling water). Place desired number of hot dogs into water and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Your favorite brand and type of hot dogs
- Hot dog toppings
- Ice cream
- Sundae toppings
- Rice wine vinegar
- English cucumbers, 2
- Fresh dill, 1 bunch
- Russet potatoes, 2 pounds
- Whole grain mustard
- Dijon mustard
- Prepared horseradish, 1bottle
- Tabasco or hot pepper sauce
- Watercress, 1 bunch
- Heavy whipping cream, 1 pint
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 bag
- White wine
- Beer, 24 ounces, light in style such as a pilsner
- Frozen limeade, 1 can
- 100% blue agave tequila such as El Jimador Blanco
- Lime, 1
- Lemon, 1
- Root Beer
Also pick up if not already in your pantry
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Garlic powder
- White pepper
- Olive oil
- Shop for non-perishable groceries
- Check your stock of games or buy new ones
- Make a list of the types of hot dogs you plan to serve and all of the toppings
2 Days ahead
- Prepare your table with games, platters and serving pieces
- Make the ‘Spicy Horseradish Mustard’
1 Day ahead
- Shop for last minute groceries
- Chill mugs for the Root Beer
Morning of the party
- Scoop and freeze the ice cream and place the toppings into individual bowls for the ‘Sundae Bar’
- Prepare the toppings for your ‘Hot Dogs’
- Rim the glasses for the ‘Beer Margaritas’
- Make the ‘Marinated Cucumbers’
- (timeline continued)
Just before the party
- Set up the games
- Set out the Root Beer
- Make the ‘Beer Margaritas’
- Make the ‘Easy Mornay Sauce’ for the ‘Hot Brown Dog’
While guests are playing the first game
- Prepare and set out the ‘Hot Dogs’
- Make and plate the ‘Oven Baked French Fries’
- Plate the ‘Marinated Cucumbers’
Join your guests for the next set of games
- Afterward, set out the bowls and toppings for your ‘Sundae Bar’ and at the last minute the ice cream.
Easy Mornay Sauce
(Makes 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons white wine
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Pinch of garlic powder
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of white pepper
In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of white wine, stirring until no lumps remain.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat bring the cream to a gentle simmer. Whisk in the cheese and once it is incorporated add the white wine, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper while whisking. Let simmer for 5 minutes then add the cornstarch/white wine slurry while whisking well for 2 minutes. This will thicken the sauce. If you want to change the consistency add more wine to thin it out or more slurry to thicken it.
Serve this on your ‘Hot Brown Dog’ with bacon and sliced tomatoes.
Spicy Horseradish Mustard
(Makes 1 cup)
In addition to hotdogs this mustard is great on hamburgers, sandwiches and as a dip for pretzels.
- 1/2 cup whole grain mustard
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/8 cup prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon honey
In a small bowl combine the whole grain mustard, Dijon mustard, horseradish and honey. Scrape into a jar with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. Can be made 1 week ahead.
Oven Baked French Fries
(Serves 4 – 6)
Individual servings can be made by putting parchment paper or a cocktail napkin in small cups and filling with the fries.
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick sticks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
Put a rimmed baking sheet on the middle rack of your oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Rinse the potatoes in a large pot of cold water being careful not to break the sticks. Dry in a kitchen towel then carefully toss in a large bowl with the olive oil. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and arrange the potatoes in a single layer. Roast the potatoes for 45 minutes turning every 10 minutes until evenly browned. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
(Serves 4 – 6)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh snipped dill
In a large bowl combine the sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the cucumbers and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Just before serving toss with the dill. Serve cold or at room temperature.
This is a fun treat! Buy a gallon of your favorite ice cream and scoop out individual scoops, place in a large footed bowl. After all the ice cream is scooped into the footed bowl put it in the freezer so when it’s time to serve, your guests can easily put a scoop of ice cream in their dish and begin building their own personalized sundaes.
The sky’s the limit in terms of toppings but here are a few of our favorites:
- Fudge sauce
- Caramel sauce
- Toasted pecans
- Fresh blueberries
- Fresh sliced strawberries
- Fresh raspberries
- Crushed Butterfinger bars
- Crushed Heath bars
- Chocolate chips
- Crushed pretzels
- Whipped cream
For Game Night, try a new twist on an old favorite — Beer Margaritas. You might be skeptical about mixing beer with the traditional margarita mix, until you taste it. One sip and you’ll understand how that fizzy carbonation of a light pilsner or lager can brighten a drink that sometimes comes off too syrupy. Once you’ve tasted it, you may never go back.
NOTE: Since not everyone likes salt on their glass, rim only 1/3 of the glasses with salt to please all of your guests. Make a signature salt by combining kosher salt with lemon and lime zest. Use a lime wedge to wet the edge of the glass then dip into a plate of your salt mixture.
- 24 ounces cold beer, light in style such as a pilsner
- 1/2 cup frozen limeade, thawed
- 1/2 cup 100% blue agave tequila such as El Jimador Blanco
- 1 lime, sliced (reserve a few slices to rim the glasses)
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Pour into prepared rocks glass with ice.