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[Photographs: Hawk Krall]

We're back in the hot dog test kitchen this week with a unique dog from Gilbert's Craft Sausages, a new hot dog and sausage company out of Wisconsin. Their products are made with high quality cuts of meat (think sirloin) and no artificial ingredients, preserving the dogs with natural cherry powder and celery juice rather than the standard nitrates. The natural casings are made with beef collagen.

The Froman is an all-beef frank named after Abe Froman, the fictional Sausage King Of Chicago from Ferris Beuller's Day Off. Flavored with coriander, mustard, cloves and paprika, it's similar in flavor to a Chicago Vienna Beef frank or a New York "kosher-style" dog.

The dogs come six to a pound and are individually vacuum sealed, and keep for up to six months in the fridge. You can even microwave them in the plastic if you want, although personally I feel the high quality of these dogs deserve a bit more finesse.

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The first dog I cooked straight up, boiled in water and served on a steamed bun with yellow mustard. A delicious dog on its own—think a shorter, fatter Nathan's with less garlic—it's somewhat of a revolution to see a gourmet / healthy / nitrate-free hot dog with a delicious, traditional frankfurter flavor.

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<p>The next one I did Chicago-style, as suggested by the package. Another boiled Froman on a steamed bun with heirloom tomato wedges, homemade dill pickles, onions, yellow mustard, pickled serrano peppers (in place of sport peppers), neon green relish (easy recipe: sweet pickle relish + food coloring), and celery salt. Delicious—this dog is perfectly suited for a Chicago-style preparation.</p>

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Froman #3 was a grilled Chicago dog. I have to say I actually slightly preferred the boiled Chicago version—I don't know if it was the clean snap of the boiled dog or what, but it made me think of the real thing just a little bit faster.

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I was pretty happy with my Chicago dog in general, although for next time I need to find a more suitable small, mild pepper to make faux sport peppers. Or just buy some sport pepper plants. The serranos that I pickled and dyed green for this looked perfect but were insanely hot and had to be sliced thin and de-seeded to be edible.

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Last up, I did one Seattle-style—something I've been dying to recreate for a while. Split and grilled, on a grill-toasted bun with cream cheese and a big pile of caramelized onions deglazed with Coca-Cola.

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The grilled Froman worked perfectly here—the grilling surface area was maximized by the butterflying of the frank, and it was delicious with the slightly sweet Coca-Cola onions and barely melting cream cheese. The cream cheese dog gets a lot of hate from purists. All I have to say is don't knock it 'til you've tried it—and make sure you try it the right way—the Coca-Cola onions and split and grilled frank are essential. I might have to call Gilbert's for more and make these all summer long.

Gilbert's products are available at grocery stores in the Milwaukee and Sheboygan area, and also available to order online, although it looks like they are hoping to expand. It would be awesome if Wegmans or even Whole Foods picked them up—these are a hundred times better than any other "uncured" dog I've had, and up there with some of the best all beef dogs in general.

Along with the Froman, Gilbert's also makes 3 other varities of sausage, which I promise are all equally as delicious as the Froman and will also be featured here very soon.

Gilbert's Craft Sausages

gilbertssausages.com

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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