Pork Roll, if you don't already know, is a processed meat product that has been made in New Jersey since the 1800s. The taste and texture could be described as a cross between Canadian bacon and Spam. It's popular mostly as a breakfast side dish or on a sandwich with egg and cheese.
Most people think of Pork Roll (also known as Taylor Ham) as being unique to Jersey, but it's also available at practically every diner and food truck in Philadelphia, and at this point is as common a breakfast staple here as scrapple, or even eaten on a roll with Cheese Wiz for lunch. I even had a burger topped with pork roll last week.
But for some strange reason it's pretty hard to find on a hot dog. Crif Dogs in Manhattan has a deep-fried pork roll wrapped hot dog with pepperoncini, but you would think that in Philadelphia, land of Texas Tommys and pepperoni bacon cheese steaks, that someone would have put the two together already.
Loeffler's Meats actually makes pork roll links—basically pork roll in hot dog form—that have been spotted on the menu at the Khyber in Philadelphia, but what I'm thinking is more of a meat-on-meat monstrosity, perfect for grilling up this Memorial Day weekend. Pretty simple with a minimum amount of prep work required, leaving plenty of time for beer and horseshoes.
The recipe calls for American cheese, which would melt nicely over the dog and onions placed on a bed of pork roll on the grill, but Wiz would also do just fine. Or if you want to get fancy, pick up some dijon mustard, pickles, Swiss cheese—and some pulled pork if you happen to have any lying around—and after assembling, grill the whole sandwich with a weight on top (foil wrapped brick, pan, or just a spatula) and create the first Jersey Cuban hot dog.
A good trick I've found for cooking onions on an outdoor grill is to wrap foil around one edge of the grill (see diagram) and grease it up with vegetable oil. Almost like cooking on a flat top, and no onions falling through the cracks. Try to find a cooler spot so the onions cook down nice and slow.
About the author: Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.
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