Sonoran Hot Dog | America’s Wild Weenie | Tucson, AZ

A Sonoran hot dog begins simply, as a slim, all-beef frankfurter. The frank gets wrapped in bacon and grilled in a trough alongside other bacon-sheathed hot dogs whose shed grease makes the process very much like deep-frying. This causes bacon flavor to melt into the dog, leaving the outside patched with streaks of lean that provide marvelous chewy contrast to the frank they embrace. The condiment line-up is presupposed: a scattering of pinto beans underneath the hot dog and on top: chopped tomatoes, grilled or raw onions, a line of yellow mustard, a green ribbon of hot jalapeno sauce, and an artistic squiggle of mayonnaise. On the side of every Sonoran hot dog comes a roasted guero pepper, which looks like a pale jalapeno (guero = blond) and can be every bit as hot. When you bite through the thick wall of this fruity pod and hit the capsicum-charged membrane within, the mercy of the bun can be welcome tongue relief.

Unlike the wan bun used for ordinary hot dogs, the roll in which a “hot-dog estilo Sonora” is planted is a supple, yeasty loaf fresh from one of the local Mexican bakeries. It is cut to form a capacious pocket with closed ends that will hold all the ingredients – even a pair of dressed hot dogs, which is a common variation – and it is substantial enough not to disintegrate under its heavy load.

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