And it’s called ‘hydrotoasting.’
YOU AND I can debate all day about the best topping for a hot dog and why it’s mustard, or argue the proper bun-length to frank-size ratio, but when it comes to how to best cook a hot dog there’s no dispute.
A fully cooked hot dog should have equal parts plump and snap, something that only comes from ‘hydrotoasting’ them. Yes, hydrotoasting.
Before we talk about what hydrotoasting is, let’s talk about what it isn’t.
Hydrotoasting a hot dog is not grilling a hot dog. Grilled hot dogs all too often come out dry on the inside and charred on the outside. Hydrotoasting a hot dog is not broiling them, either, for the same exact reasons.
Hydrotoasting a hot dog is not boiling or simmering a hot dog—both methods that leave the hot dog limp and tinny tasting.
Hydrotoasting is also not microwaving a hot dog, because what a way to turn a perfectly good frank into a rubbery and lifeless meat tube.
Just like grilling the perfect steak, cooking the perfect hot dog takes place indoors. In a pan.
‘Hydrotoasting’—a term coined by Tony Fragogiannis, founder of The Brooklyn Hot Dog Company—produces a flavorful frank that’s juicy on the inside and the perfect balance of snappy and browned on the outside. Every. Time.
“My older brother Dean showed me this method about 20 years ago and it stuck with me,” says Fragogiannis. “We start with water in a pan to plump them up and once the water evaporates, we give the dogs some color in the pan by toasting them to add the snap which is a quintessential part of a great dog.”
Hydrotoasting takes less than 8 minutes and transforms hot dogs from a seasonal staple to a year-round meal by skipping the grill.
Better yet, Fragogiannis’ method can be done in four simple steps.
Step 1: Pick the right pan.
Fill a large, deep pan (anything larger than 9-inches should work) with enough room-temperature water to reach a ¼ inch depth. Any pan will do, but carbon steel is a good best for even heating.
You can put the pan on the stove and pour the water into it. Or, if you’re feeling daring, you can fill the pan with water over the sink and then tip-toe over to the stove to place it carefully on top of the burner.
Step 2: Bring the heat.
Place pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. This should take 1 to 2 minutes, depending on your stovetop. If you have a turbo stovetop, you may even need to adjust the heat to medium low. You want the water at a strong simmer.
“I like to keep the heat at a medium-high to high on the hydro part,” Fragogiannis says. “Since the water is shallow it creates an intense simmer.”
Step 3: Deploy the dogs.
Slide the hot dogs into the simmering water.
“You can do as many hot dogs as your appetite desires,” Fragogiannis says. “From one dog to however many will fit in your pan; just increase the amount of water the more dogs you put in.”
Step 4: Reduce and, eventually, sizzle.
Now drop the heat all the way down to low. This will prevent the hot dogs from splitting during cook. Gently roll the hot dogs back an forth in the pan (with a fork or whatever).
As the hot dogs cook the water will evaporate. Continue to cook the hot dog. The dry pan will eventually lightly toast the exterior of the dog. This should take anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes.
Remove hot dogs from the heat, place in a buttered top split bun, and top with mustard.
And only mustard.