align="right">Ball games, barbecues and boardwalks all share one very tasty link -- the hot dog. Although it's about as iconic as a food can get in this country, the wiener's origin remains surprisingly unclear. On one point, however, we're all in agreement: On a summer afternoon, it's perfect washed down with a glass of something bubbly and ice-cold.
Yet, there are lots of ways to prepare this most crowd-pleasing of treats -- and just as many experts out there who are elevating the art of the dog. To start, there's the choice of the meat itself, then the cooking method (grilling, boiling, deep-frying), the matter of what to put on top (salty, sweet, cheesy) and how to handle the bun (toasted, soft, handmade). To help us assess the options and learn how to create the perfect hot dog at home -- after all, most of us don't have access to equipment more advanced than a stovetop or a barbecue -- we checked in with masters Randy Watts of Nathan's Famous, Hot Doug's Doug Sohn in Chicago and Gloria Pink of Pink's in Hollywood, to name just a few.
Grilling was the most popular method of cooking on the East Coast, with steaming and boiling coming out on top in the Midwest -- but otherwise the tips and tricks were unpredictable, even surprising. Why? Because, ultimately, it all comes down to taste buds -- whether you like biting into a charred dog dressed with a single strand of handmade Dijon mustard or a deep-fried version heaped with a mess of coleslaw that spills down your chin. Dig in.
- Bree Sposato, The Daily Meal