In these days of shark attacks, flash floods, global climate change, political unrest and terrorist threats, it is more important than ever that we improve the quality of our summer cooking.

One of the most effective ways to increase our gustatory gladness at the grill, especially when it comes to preparing hot dogs, is to spiral cut them. Nothing is quite as disappointing as biting into a freshly grilled hot dog, with its smoky, pleasantly crisp, yet tender outer flesh, only to have ones teeth sink into a feeble, lukewarm, greasy, gelatinous mass of processed parts in the center. More unfortunate still, some hot dogs leave a thin, slithery residue on the roof of the mouth. With spiral cutting, this problem is effectively blasted off the face of the earth, because not only does the skin of the hot dog get fire roasted, but so do its insides. The side benefits are many. Additional fat and preservatives are cooked out of the meat, and, depending on the quality of the hot dog, extra heat toward the middle helps to kill any residual bacteria that tagged along from the processing plant. (Let’s face the facts, friends: hot dogs are historically one of the last train stops for meat before it gets sent on to the pet food plant.)

The spiral cuts will expand to half-inch-wide, meaty grooves as the hot dog cooks, which makes it easier to load it with your favorite toppings and condiments. And, finally, they are much more fun to look at when they’re spiral cut. They look much less like the tubes of processed offal and fat that they really are. Children enjoy their interesting, coiled spring-like appearance, while more serious adult-types, who may feel that hot dogs are otherwise a frivolous food, can justify eating a spiral-cut hot dog because it resembles an Archimedes screw, or the auger of a silo unloader.

To spiral cut a hot dog, simply insert a kebab skewer lengthwise through its center. Then, with a sharp knife, cut, at a 30 to 45-degree angle to the perpendicular, down to the skewer. Then, rotate the hot dog toward the knife, while maintaining the angle of the blade. As you rotate the hot dog, the knife will cut a spiral groove as it travels toward the outer end. Then, place the hot dog on a hot grill. Grill it as you would a regular hot dog, turning it so that it cooks evenly, while making sure the meat is cooking all the way down in the spiral grooves.

Spiral cutting our summer hot dogs is only a small step for humankind, but it is most assuredly a giant leap for processed meat by-products. The improved taste and texture, and to some small degree, healthiness, of a spiral-cut hot dog will make you wonder why you ever ate a hot dog any other way.

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