[Photographs: Hawk Krall]

One question I get fairly often is "Where do I find natural casing hot dogs in Philadelphia?". My response usually involves Wegman's (not really in the city) and the possibility of Boar's Head franks at Whole Foods. My new answer is pictured here.

I recently went back to Krakus Market , a Polish grocery store in Philadelphia with terrific kielbasa and even hot-dog sized kielbaski, to check out their restaurant for delicious pierogies and cheap Polish beer.

But I also noticed something in the meat case there wasn't there a few weeks ago: real-deal Polish weiners or Parowki: pork and veal, natural casing, and big at five or six to a pound.

First I tried cooking them lightly steamed in barely boiling water. Not a great technique for a cheap dog but for a high-quality, real European style wiener like this, it's a great way to experience the pure simple flavor of the hot dog.

Unlike the "Hot-Dog Kielbaski" from Krakus, this is a real-deal, emulsified meat frankfurter, made and smoked in house. It's got a great snap, firm texture, mildly spiced but with a strong smoke flavor, really different and delicious.

Because I can't resist messing with a good thing, here's the same thing topped Southern-style with some Duke's Mayonnaise and homemade Jerusalem artichoke relish (courtesy of Taylor of from Philly's Mac & Cheese blog). Totally sacrilege, not Polish or even authentically "Southern" at all, but yup it was great.

Then here's my slightly fancy, more Polish version with beer steamed cabbage tossed with mustard seeds and a touch of vinegar, sliced green apple and mounds of horseradish. This was awesome.

Next, I pan-fried one of these in butter with an iron skillet. Pretty much my favorite way to prepare any sausage or hot dog, great plain but also ideal for a heavily topped dog because the crust and char really add some texture if you're throwing on a lot of cold or creamy toppings. Butter +browned pork wiener crust + fresh apples, horseradish and warm beer cabbage = right on.

Last but not least, I tossed one on the grill. Some serious char on there, really great if you want it to stand up to big globs of mustard or horseradish, but you lose some of the subtleties of the steamed dog. But really, any way you cook these things they are going to be great. A highly recommended stop on the Philadelphia hot dog list.

Krakus Market

3150 Richmond Street, Philadelphia, PA 19134 (map); 215-426-4336; krakusmarket.com

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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