My glorious Citizens! My last few recipe posts have been for several delicious, yet outré dishes that are not part of the common zeitgeist – at least here in the United States. Today, I wish to celebrate the successful Mars Rover landing by NASA with a classic dish of American comfort food – the not-so-humble hot dog!
Not just ANY dog, however – this one is a micro-regional treat you won’t see anywhere outside the North Carolina state line, a tube steak that is replete with savory, sweet and heat on the flavor profile. I speak of nothing less than the legendary and deservedly epic North Carolina slaw dog, dripping with sweet and cool cole slaw, hot with a unique chili spooned over the dog and under the slaw as well as tangy with mustard and diced onions! Enjoy one of these with the state’s favorite beverage – Cheerwine – and know the authentic taste of the Tarheel State!
A proper North Carolina hot dog is an assemblage of all the tasty ingredients that are resplendent in the state, most of which revolve around its epic BBQ plates. Pork – of course – is king in NC and the hot dogs used in this dish of distinction are made from both pork and beef (they are also neon-red in color!). These hot dogs are the stuff of legend in the state and are sold under the Bright Leaf brand (more on them shortly). If you are lucky enough to find yourself in NC and want a hiatus from its world-class pork BBQ – slaw dogs are what you want to order!
Bright Leaf hot dogs – these are the flagship meat product proffered by the Carolina Packers company and the #1 original red hot dog of NC! This is a true old fashioned beef and pork hot dog made the same way it was in 1941. As noted on their website in this excerpted article:
Carolina Packing Company, as it was originally called, was founded in Smithfield, North Carolina by John A. Jones Sr., a native of Claxton, Georgia, and a group of local businessmen on December 12, 1939. Later, in 1941, the name was changed to Carolina Packers Incorporated.
From the very beginning Carolina Packers Inc created a much needed livestock market for Smithfield area farmers, many of whom became charter stockholders in the new company. For the next 50 years, we processed locally-grown beef and pork into hams, bacon, country link sausage and our famous family of “Bright Leaf” hot dogs, bologna, Red Hots and smoked sausage.
In 1997, we discontinued slaughtering operations to concentrate our efforts on our Bright Leaf product line. In March, 1977, Mr. Jones’ son, Buck, became president and remained so until his death in 2005. Buck’s wife, Jean continued to carry on the food service legacy founded almost seventy years ago, until her death in February of 2016.
WHERE DOES THE NAME “BRIGHT LEAF” COME FROM?
Often folks who are new to our products ask about the origin of our “Bright Leaf” name. The answer is rooted in our North Carolina agricultural heritage. Carolina Packers on Bright Leaf BlvdThe area’s rural economy used to be dominated by tobacco.
In fact the section of US Highway 301, in Smithfield, NC, where our plant is located, has long been known as Brightleaf Boulevard, because of the number of tobacco warehouses that lined the highway through Smithfield during the 1940′s. In addition, many of our customers and suppliers grew tobacco as part of their farming operations, so we adopted this name, along with the tobacco leaf in our logo, to identify with our agricultural heritage.
Now, as for Cheerwine – this is the ONLY drink that should ever be served alongside a slaw dog, at least in my not-so-humble opinion! If you’re not from the region, you won’t be familiar with it, so indulge me as I bring you up to speed on this delicious beverage of the Gods!
Uniquely Southern and undeniably delicious since 1917 – as the oldest continuing soft drink run by the same family, L.D. Peeler created Cheerwine in 1917 in Salisbury, North Carolina amidst a sugar shortage. His drive to start his own soft drink led him to a salesman from St. Louis who sold him a wild cherry flavor that blended well with other flavors. With the perfect taste secured, he needed a name. With a burgundy-red color and cheery disposition, the name “Cheerwine” simply made sense. The taste sensation known as Cheerwine was born. The soft drink with a bubbly effervescence and cherry goodness became an instant hit.
The origin of the North Carolina slaw dog is shrouded in mystery, but is thought to have first been popularized at Merritt’s Burger House, which has been serving slaw dogs since 1958. Now, to make this dish with My usual ruthless authenticity, you must first secure the proper Bright Leaf neon-red hot dogs, easily purchased from the supplier here. For the mustard, go old-school and use French’s yellow mustard – it is the classic condiment for the dog in question.
The chili is simple but has a very specific flavor profile that if you deviate even one iota from, a native Tarheel will be brought to a foam-mouthed frenzy of righteous anger! One of the most famous hot dog chilies in North Carolina was made by the late Mabel Morgan of Wilson, NC. Mabel was the one who made the chili for her family’s hot dog stand, Bruce’s Hot Dog Stand. The recipe I am sharing came from Mabel’s daughter Millie and is her exact recipe. Use it.
North Carolina slaw is also its own unique entity, although I have slightly tweaked the recipe in ways that should not offend (and in my opinion, improve it). One deviation from the standard is that instead of using white vinegar, I choose to use Eastern NC BBQ sauce, which uses both cider and white vinegar, as well as hot pepper and sugar. I find it adds a nice zip to the slaw over straight white vinegar.
The slaw uses my own blend of herbs and spices and MUST INCLUDE ONLY DUKE’S BRAND MAYO. It’s the Southern standard and has more tang than classic Hellman’s or Kraft. You can easily buy it here – yes there are 4 squeeze bottles in the order, but trust me – once you try Duke’s you are going to use it on EVERYTHING. Use a good, soft potato bun for the hot dog and you are good-to-go, Citizens! For the ketchup used in the chili, please humor me and try Sir Kensington’s brand ketchup – it is the best you will ever experience, please don’t deface my recipe with Heinz or Hunt’s. Please also use this chili powder – it is from nearby Maryland and is thus local.
Today, America once again demonstrated it is the O.G. of space exploration for good reason – I hope you choose to honor the success of our NASA scientists by indulging in this tasty bite of Americana post haste! Should you decide that you want to REALLY push your cooking game up to the next level, try another and MUCH harder NC specialty dish – I speak of nothing less than whole hog BBQ!
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
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