In 1991's remake of Father of the Bride, Steve Martin, playing the title character George Banks, famously exposes the indecency of the hot dog industry. His argument then was that hot dogs were sold in packs of eight, while hot dog buns were sold in packs of 12, resulting in "paying for four buns [he didn't] need."
Is Martin's performance responsible for the right-sizing of hot dog bun packs (the standard is now a sensible eight buns per pack)? We may never know. But at least that's one hot dog scam out of the way. That leaves room for the other horror still plaguing cookouts across this great nation: hot-dog-size-to-bun-size ratio.
We sampled 17 varieties of wieners and franks to find one that we could declare top dog. Did your favorite make the cut?
When I was researching hot dogs for our recent taste test, I discovered that there are some people who actually like that hot dogs are routinely shorter than hot dog buns. "More room for toppings," they insist. But when test kitchen manager Gaby Melian was growing up in Argentina, she says she always "hated that last bite of just bread," when the frankfurter had all been eaten but the last nubbin of bun remained.
For Epi director David Tamarkin, the bun-to-dog disparity is less about length, more about the usually-too-skinny frank getting overwhelmed by the volume of bread surrounding it. "When I eat a hot dog," he says, "I'm there for the dog, not the bun. And yet whenever I take a bite, my mouth is suddenly full of all this fluffy, sometimes cotton-y bread, and I have to get through it to get to the hot dog."
To combat the "betrayal" Gaby felt when going in for one last perfect bite only to be met with empty, dogless bread, she developed a recipe to satisfy anyone who feels the scourge of excess bun.
Gaby's Panchos Argentinos calls for panchos (hot dogs) that are split lengthwise down the middle, leaving just the barest margin in tact so that the sausage can open like a book. This is a common technique and a great way to get more charred surface area, whether you're grilling or pan-frying your dog. (It's also a great way to prevent the dogs from rolling around.)
Gaby then sears the dogs on the cut side, pressing down on the tops with a spatula or a lid so that the whole side makes contact with the skillet. Once they've taken on some color, she flips them to cook the second side.
But what she does next is the real brilliant part: Gaby slides two cooked dogs into each bun. Yes, two. She slides the panchos into the bun with the flat sides against the bun. The result is a "V" of hot dog bun with a "V" of butterflied frankfurters, rounded sides-up, running the length of it. Know what the space between the dogs is good for? Gripping on to toppings.
The second dog doubles the ratio of sausage to bun, ensuring there is enough meat in each bite. But it doesn't automatically fix the problem of length. To combat that issue, Gaby adjusts the franks so that one just breaches the edge of one end of the bun, and the other barely overflows on the other end. Two dogs. They're better than one!
Gaby's panchos are topped with mayonnaise and an Argentine salsa criolla—similar to pico de gallo, but with bell peppers instead of chiles and a splash of vinegar and oil for balance and richness. But, if you want to go for pickle relish or sauerkraut—or keep it simple with mustard—you do you. The crease of the frank is there to grip onto anything you like. The only problem? Now that everyone at the party is going to be satisfied with "one" hot dog instead of two, you're going to end up with four buns that you don't need. Can someone get Steve Martin on the phone?Gaby Melian
Originally Appeared on Epicurious