New Jersey Italian Hot Dog
Jersey boy Hank Shaw is back, and with his favorite home town hot dog. Enjoy! ~Elise
I was a boy the first time I ate this sandwich. I remember being somewhere around 13 years old at the time, and I went down with my stepfather Frank to a place called the Corner Store in Fanwood, New Jersey.
Frank always bought the newspaper and coffee at the store, which, oddly, was not on a corner. I can’t remember why we were there around lunchtime, only that I was hungry, and that Frank suggested I get an Italian Hot Dog. Seemed like a decent enough idea.
When the cook handed it over the deli counter, it did not look anything like any hot dog I’d ever eaten. For starters, it was on a sub roll, and was huge. Four hot dogs lurked within that roll, but you could barely see them—they were covered in a jungle of potatoes, peppers and onions that had been grilled on the deli’s flattop.
I took a bite, and instantly tasted a hit of deli mustard. Then the tangy hot dog—I love that pop! you get when you bite through the casing—and finally that curious, breakfasty combination of potatoes, peppers and onions. This was good! I ate the whole thing, which probably weighed close to two pounds, long before we even got home, just a few miles away.
This is my Jersey dog. I know there are other versions, some with special bread, some where everything inside, including the hot dog, has been deep-fried. I’ve even heard of a few versions of this sandwich that use ketchup, a condiment which, when combined with a hot dog, will get you whacked in most parts of Jersey. I like those Italian hot dogs, too. (Except for the ones with ketchup) But this one always reminds me of that otherwise unmemorable day I spent with my dearly departed stepdad long ago. It’s a memory I still hold close.
Ideally you would find the special pizza bread roll, which is round, like a muffuletta roll. These can be hard to find, though, so use a good sandwich loaf. Try to avoid using a hot dog bun; those are too small for the Jersey dog.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
- 2 medium green peppers, sliced into strips
- 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced into strips
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or a mixture of oregano, basil and rosemary
- 8 beef hot dogs, preferably with natural casings
- 4 sandwich buns
1 Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet or griddle until it shimmers. Put the potatoes in the pan in one layer and fry on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes without touching them. Use a metal spatula to scrape the potatoes off the bottom of the skillet, flipping them. Sprinkle salt over the potatoes, and cook for another 2-3 minutes without touching them.
2 Remove the potatoes, which should be partially browned, to a bowl and set aside. Turn the heat to high and add the peppers and onions. Arrange evenly in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes without touching them. Sprinkle salt over them, then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes untouched. There should be some browned and even blackened bits here and there. Add the Italian seasoning and the potatoes to the pan, stir to combine and cook over medium-high heat until they are soft and nicely browned, about 8-10 minutes.
3 Heat a grill or a frying pan to cook your hot dogs; don't boil your dogs for this recipe. Grill or fry until they are done to your liking and set aside.
4 Liberally smear mustard on both sides of the sandwich roll. Add two hot dogs per roll and top with as much of the potatoes, peppers and onions as will fit. Serve at once.