This past Sunday I was fortunate enough to take part in the third heat of #BlogEATBlog, a good natured cooking contest involving some of the web’s leading food bloggers and tweeters, and the superb hot dogs of Big Apple Hot Dogs.
The task was straightforward – make my own gourmet topping for a gourmet hot dog. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it looks.
After multiple test runs and a frantic Saturday producing litres of the final mixture, I had produced my ultimate hot dog topping – a creation I’ve called Damson Relish:
Recipe (made in small batches)
- 2kg Home Made Gherkins – diced
- 800g Red Onions – Coarse Chopped
- 20 Red Chillis – finely chopped
- 20 Green Chillis – finely chopped
- 200ml – 10yr Old Single Malt Scotch – we used Ardbeg
- 1litre Damson Mixture
- Rosemary – to taste
- Cumin – to taste
- Paprika – to taste
- Cajun Spices – to taste
- Salt – to taste
- 40 Rashers of Smoked Streaky Bacon
After two weeks of pickling in a secret mixture of vinegar, spices and seeds in the cupboard where we keep the snow shovel, vacuum cleaner and the electricity meter, drain the gherkins and dice into nice big chunks, then fry off the excess moisture and put to once side.
Coarsely chop the onions and then marinate in the Scotch. Hold back some of the scotch for use later.
Finely chop the chillis, mix with the marinated onions and lightly fry off the excess moisture.
Recombine the gherkins on a low heat, add salt and spices to taste and stir in.
Then add the Damson mixture and simmer on a low heat.
Add in the rest of the Scotch once the mixture starts to thicken. Then allow the mixture to simmer and thcken some more until sticky.
Rest and cool.
You then end up with something like this:
Thanks to Sue Aron at The Art of Puddings for the help on the Damson mixture front.
On the morning of the contest, I crispy fried the bacon and blitzed it into small pieces for sprinkling on top of the mixture.
So, having created the mixture and loaded it into Tupperware boxes, I headed to Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar where I met up with Abiye Cole from Big Apple Hot Dogs (@bigapplehotdogs) and the three other competitors.
In addition to me, three other contenders took part in this heat (the third of four heats), each bringing an excellent, homemade and exciting twist to topping a hot dog.
First up was Paul Lomax (@paullomax) with his Canadian-inspired Poutine Hot Dog. A mixture of homemade cheese curds, gravy and crunchy topping went into this one. By far the most unusual, and very tasty too. Great combination of textures and favours.
Next was Rose (@_RosieT) with her classic Chilli Cheese Dog, with a mixture of yellow and red cheese, this not only tasted nice, but had a classic American look.
Finally we have Sam (@steampie) with his Bourbon Bacon Marmalade with Crispy Leeks. Delicious topping, and the Crispy Leeks were fantastic. We were adding them to everything at one point, and they make a great bar snack on their own.
Here are all four toppings on Abiye’s amazing fresh hot dogs.
My hot dog is liberally topped with the Damson Relish, then topped off with sprinkled crispy bacon to add a nice smoky, salty bacon crunch. Frying off the gherkins ensures they retain their crunch, even after the cooking and combining with the sauce mixture. The chillies add a small amount of heat, but mostly contribute flavour and colour, while the ‘drunken onions’ that were combined with a generous potion of peaty, smoky Scotch proved to be a real winner with the customers, as well as adding a unique flavour to the overall relish.
Overall I was really pleased with how the relish turned out. The feedback from the many Big Apple Hot Dogs customers that opted to have my topping on all or part of their hot dog was really positive, as has been the feedback on Twitter.
The winner of my heat has yet to be announced, but whoever it is, along with the winners of the previous two heats and this coming Sunday’s fourth heat, they will go through to a grand final to become overall champion and have their name added to Abiye’s cart. It’s not about the prize, it’s about the build
If you came along and tried the toppings, do please vote on Twitter using the hashtag #BlogEATBlog.
Thanks to everyone who participated and to all the people who made the journey to Brick Lane to try the hot dogs. We had a great time and I hope you did too!