There’s something to be said for the humble hot dog and hamburger; they’re portable, adaptable, and of course, soul-satisfying. Not to mention quick and easy. Soft, pillowy buns holding grilled patties or dogs, topped with crisp pickles, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. Oh my!
Summertime is when these two humble sandwiches truly come into their own. BBQs come out, fresh tomatoes are dying to be sliced, and these modest meats improve family picnics throughout cottage country. Sure ketchup and mustard are a great way to top it all off, but why not jazz them up and call it haute cuisine?
Here are some delicious ways to jazz up this simple, yet iconic summertime fare.
Hot dogs and hamburgers aren’t really complete without cheese. And while mild-tasting, super-melty and ultra-convenient cheese slices might be your go-to choice, there is a world of cheese waiting to transform your meal.
Eight-year old Pine River Cheddar: Pine River has been making cheese in Ripley, Ontario, since 1885, and they have a tried, tested, and true product in this amazing Cheddar. The aging process gives this cheese a sharp tang and hint of caramel. And it melts to ooey-gooey goodness.
Brie: Nothing beats a classic French Brie, like Brie de Meaux for burgers. Keep the rind on to stop the cheese from melting right off the burger, but be prepared to be blown away by the rich, creamy, and nutty aromas that develop when heated.
Emmentaler: This raw-milk Swiss cheese, from Switzerland and most recognized by the holes, or “eyes,” makes a dreamy topping. It melts to irresistible stretchiness, and has a piquant, yet mild taste. Add sautéed mushrooms for an out-of-this-world experience.
Beemster Premium Goat Gouda: While Beemster is most recognized by the pale orange Gouda of the same name, they also make a dreamy goat Gouda. Aged only six months, this pale, white semi-firm cheese has an unmistakable sweetness that is truly addicting.
Red Dragon: For those who enjoy a bit of bite, Red Dragon is a must. This Welsh cheddar is loaded with whole mustard seeds and Welsh ale. It’s a buttery, spicy cheese with complex flavour and a great texture from the mustard seeds.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to toppings. Some favourites offer a sharp contrast in texture or taste (consider the pickle), while others are just plain good. Here are a few classic options and a few inspired ones to take your barbecue to the next level.
Leaf Lettuce: Soft, frilly edges, a crisp stem and a sweet, mild taste make this a classic topping.
Bacon: Smoky, salty, crispy, what more is there to say?
Sauteéd Mushrooms: Add earthiness, richness and nuttiness.
Avocado: Forget the mayo and add a few slices of avocado instead for a rich, buttery, creamy topping.
Pickled Jalapenos: Add just a few for a subtle zing, add a few more for a sharp tingly heat.
Roasted Red Pepper: Gives your sandwich a slight smokiness and a pleasing hint of sweetness.
Red Onion: A classic topping, nothing quite beats the crisp zing of a slice of red onion.
Fried Egg: The Aussies are onto something here. Soft oozy yolk blends beautifully with a burger. Why not try it on a hot dog too?