One of the most contested topics in the world of hot dog appreciation is the subject of frankfurter brands, with the general consensus (which I pretty much agree with) being that the majority of national grocery store brands are pretty awful and generally reinforce negative stereotypes of the frankfurter, while small regional brands are a whole different world of delicious bold flavors not dumbed down for mass consumption. In the last few years a third category of premium hot dog makers has started to emerge, offering "gourmet" or healthier hot dog options, Gilbert's of Wisconsin being a good example of one that does both.
David's Kosher is an interesting new brand that seems to be pushing the "healthy"—or at least "gluten free, uncured, natural"—angle, along with the kosher and regional Chicago angle. These all-beef franks basically taste like a fusion between a New York-style Hebrew National and a milder Chicago Vienna Beef dog. I tested them out with a couple different methods and various levels of toppings.
In general it's a decent dog that I would be happy to see in the grocery store. It's a little bit of a bummer that they don't offer a natural casing dog, although whether or not that is possible while remaining kosher is up for debate.
Steamed All-Beef Frank, Plain
As simple as you can get: a steamed frank with nothing on it. It has a similar garlic/paprika flavor and texture to a New York-deli style dog (think Nathan's, Hebrew National) but a bit milder.
All-Beef Frank, Pan-Fried with Mustard
The same dog, shallow-fried in an iron skillet. Frying in some oil really brings out the flavor of these dogs; it's hard to believe it's the same thing I tasted in the last photo. With a squirt of mustard we're really getting into good hot dog territory.
Steamed Frank, Chicago-Style
Since these hot dogs are from Chicago, I thought I'd try them out dressed Chicago-style, with tomato, pickles, onions, sport peppers, and neon green relish—everything but the celery salt and the poppy seed bun. It was a little hard to taste the dog under all that stuff, but it definitely wasn't very far off from what I've had in Chicago.
Pan-Fried Frank, Chicago-Style
Again, a totally different dog when pan-fried (I would assume also terrific grilled). You could really taste the spice of the dog even through all these toppings. Definitely the recommended way to go with these dogs.
I was surprised to actually like a steamed dog more than a fried one when topped with warm kraut and brown mustard. The subtle texture and taste just made sense with the kraut in that Jewish deli/side of pickles and celery soda sort of way.
Pan-Fried All Beef Frank, Pickle and Mustard
Last but not least, pretty much my favorite way to eat a hot dog: cooked in butter and topped with a pickle spear, a handful of raw chopped onions, and yellow mustard on a well-toasted bun. David's Kosher Frank is almost perfect for this style—just the right amount of acidic toppings to complement rather than bury the flavor of the dog.
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.