Is there such a thing as a hot dog that’s delicious, environmentally correct, possibly organic, and maybe even homegrown, and that won’t traumatize the natural-casing-and-nitrite-loving tube-steak lunatics at your Labor Day cookout this year? To find out, we cranked up the grill and sampled seven of the most righteous wienies available.
APPLEGATE FARMS THE GREAT ORGANIC UNCURED HOT DOG
$5.99 for an eight-pack at Whole Foods.
Pros: Certified organic, made from grass-fed-and-finished beef, comparatively low in fat, fairly firm and bouncy with a finely emulsified interior; looks like a supermarket hot dog.
Cons: Although naturally occurring nitrites in sea salt and celery powder give this dog a nice pinkish-red color, some tasters found the salt content excessive; others liked it for this reason. Beef is from Uruguay.
GRAZIN’ ANGUS ACRES BEEF HOT DOGS
$14.50 per pound (about eight dogs) at Greenmarket: Union Square, Wednesdays and Fridays; 97th and Columbus, Fridays; Carroll Gardens, Sundays.
Pros: A skinless wiener for beef-loving locavores made from the chuck, sirloin, and top-round cuts of contented grass-fed-and-finished upstate cows. It’s no hot dog in any traditional sense of the word, but it’s tasty, with a firm texture and a big, beefy flavor. Call it a steak dog.
Cons: It’s brown and looks like an overgrown jerky; it doesn’t take to classic condiments like mustard, although you might try A-1.
FLYING PIGS FARM PORK HOT DOGS
$11 per pound (about eight dogs) at Union Square and Grand Army Plaza Greenmarkets, Saturdays.
Pros: Old-fashioned good looks and a natural lamb casing; made locally from heritage-breed porkers.
Cons: Nitrates, but the Flying Pigs team says it’s currently working on a nitrate-free recipe.
OAK GROVE HIGH HOPE HOGS UNCURED PORK-AND-BEEF HOT DOGS
$7.95 per pound (eight dogs) at Union Square Greenmarket Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Pros: They’re local and as such comparatively cheap.
Cons: On the bland side; ingredients like corn syrup and modified cornstarch make you wonder how these franks pass muster with Greenmarket nitpickers.
D’ARTAGNAN PORK HOT DOGS
$6.50 for a package of four at Marlow & Sons, 81 Broadway, at Berry St., Williamsburg.
Pros: Big and juicy, with a mild but well-balanced flavor; made from free-rooting, sustainably raised heritage-breed hogs on small family farms.
Cons: Skinless, with a texture like a weisswurst that may be too soft for some aficionados.
D’ARTAGNAN BEEF HOT DOGS
$7 for a package of four at Barnyard, 149 Ave. C, nr. 9th St.
Pros: A bolder, spicier, more garlic-and-paprika-forward flavor profile than the pork version, with a nice russet color, and among the juiciest of the group; made from pasture-raised, grain-finished beef.
Cons: Like the pork version, a loosely emulsified, notably soft texture.
NIMAN RANCH UNCURED PORK AND BEEF FEARLESS FRANKS
$7.99 for eight at Citarella.
Pros: Even if this groundbreaking boutique-brand wiener weren’t as nicely smoked and well balanced as it is, you could take solace in the fact that eating one supports sustainable farming and humane animal husbandry.
Cons: A texture that’s sort of chewy and spongy at the same time.