I visited Chicago a few weeks ago and I found it pretty unbelievable that I didn’t get an authentic Chi-Town. Polar opposite to the simplistic New York City dog, in Chicago the franks are said to be “dragged through the garden” due to the number of toppings. Juicy tomatoes, crisp onion, and tart pickles are the staples. You’ll also find sweet relish, peppers, and a dash of celery salt. And don’t even think about putting ketchup on top. But with any recipe, there are always variations. I was craving something simplistic, yet flavorful. Most importantly, I wanted a hot dog I could fit my mouth around!
My variation doesn’t stray too far from the original. I just omitted the relish and swapped sweet peppers for fire roasted green peppers.
chicago style italian sausage
serves 4, 25 minute prep + cook time
4 Italian sausages
4 hot dog buns
1 green pepper
1/4 onion, sliced
1 tomato, quartered
1 pickle, speared
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
a pinch of celery salt
Cook the sausages: Heat olive oil in a grill pan or cast iron skillet over a medium flame. Split the Italian sausages down the middle and place in pan. Cook until they are browned, about 5-6 minutes on each side.
TIP: To prevent the sausages from curling up, place a plate or pan on top of it.
While the sausages are cooking, toast the buns in the broiler for just a minute. You want them to be slightly crisp and sturdy enough to be a vessel for all the toppings, but not charred. Don’t burn them like I always do!
When the sausages are thoroughly cooked, allow them to cool off on a bundle of paper towel, to absorb the excess oil. Don’t lower flame on stove.
Cook the onion: Using a spatula, scrape away any burned pieces from the pan. Sauté the onions until they are soft. Set pan aside.
Roast the pepper: Place the pepper on a burner on the stove. Turn the flame to high and allow the pepper to char and soften all around. Handle with tongs on the stem. When the pepper is charred to your liking, carefully remove from flame. After cooling, half the pepper and remove seeds. Set aside and store one half, slice the other half
TIP: If you don’t have a gas range, you can roast the pepper in the oven: 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Assemble the sausages: Spread a thin layer of mustard onto the toasted bun. Place the sausages in the buns, top with onions, tomatoes, peppers, and pickle.
Garnish: Sprinkle just a pinch of celery salt over each sausages. Be careful not to use too much, as the taste can be overbearing. For a finishing touch, add the chopped parsley.