The secret to making perfect hot dogs, according to a golf-club chef

hot dogs

Are you celebrating this Independence Day by doggin' it? Good. Here's how.

Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.

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All dogs have their day. For hot dogs, that day is the Fourth of July. Most people simply cook them whole on the grill. But since this is a holiday that celebrates independence, we sought advice from an independent thinker. Garret Martindale, executive chef at Sequoyah Country Club, in Oakland, Calif., loves his dawgs as much as anyone and has strong opinions on how to do them right. Here is his four-point guide.

Go beef, or go home

Not all hot dogs are created equal, and you get what you pay for. Spend a little extra on the highest quality hot dogs you can find. All-beef is best, Martindale says. But you also want a weiner with a fresh casing that snaps when you bite into it. Nothing puts a damper on a cookout like a mushy dog.

Butterfly ‘em

Grilling hot dogs whole is the easy way to go. But you’ll get better flavor and texture if you butterfly them, Martindale says. That means slicing them along the top but not all the way through. You’re looking for a nice sear wherever you can get it, and this method exposes more surface area to the grill. When it’s time to put the hot dog in the bun, do so with the butterflied side facing up, so it can better hold whatever condiments you put on top.

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Bun there, done that

Martindale has tried plenty of pre-sliced supermarket hot dog buns. He doesn’t like them. “I find that most will fall apart while you’re trying to enjoy your perfectly pan-seared or grilled hot dog,” he says. His go-to bun is a Philly cheesesteak roll. Instead of slicing it in half, he cuts a V-shaped wedge out of the top, pulls it off and scrapes out part of the inside to create a nice hollowed-out cargo hold for the hot dog.

As for those condiments …

To some, ketchup on a hot dog is essential. To others, it’s an act of heresy. How you choose to top your dog is your prerogative, and we won’t judge you for it. Martindale won’t either, but he urges you to get creative. A chili-cheese dog, maybe. Or a South-of-the-Border dog with black beans, green chilis, avocado and pico de gallo. Or a bacon-and-cheese dog. Or a Boston-style dog with baked beans and potato chips. “You can also do a poutine dog with French fries and gravy,” Martindale says. “Or buffalo sauce and blue cheese. The combos are endless.” One of Martindale’s favorites is kimchi and Chinese mustard. We’ll take that over ketchup any day. 

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A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.