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~ Joe's Caribbean Chicken Dog w/Joe's Island Salsa ~

IMG_9338Because a lot of Americans will be firing up their grills this weekend, there's no time like the present for me to talk about an experiment I conducted on myself this week:  chicken hot dogs. For years I've been telling people "I think I was a hot dog in a past life" (that is how much I love high-quality all-beef franks).  That said,  chicken hot dogs have been popping up (again) in stores of late.  For years I've been saying, "If you dislike something, you really ought to try it once every ten years, just to see if your taste has changed or the product has improved".  Would I love them or would I hate them.  My money was on the latter and I spared no expense (wink) to find out.

The first thing I set out to do was find the best quality chicken dog available to me (as the only one I ever ate was served to me by an over-the-top, health-conscious, extremist-nut job about 8-10 years ago and it tasted like sawdust in a chewy casing).  The second thing I set out to do was come up with a unique flavor profile (traditional toppings typically slathered and heaped on American-regional all-beef dogs were off limits).  My ideal chicken dog would be surrounded with a combination of sweet and savory flavors that enhance the mild flavor of chicken (not hide it in the hopes of passing it off as an alternative all-beef dog) -- all on a soft, slightly-sweet potato roll.

IMG_9306Meet the Trader Joe's all-natural uncured chicken hot dog:

IMG_9311Low-fat, full-flavored and made with boneless, skinless chicken (60% breast meat and 40% thigh meat), what they are not is:  made from mechanically separated meat of any kind, nitrites or nitrates, MSG, gluten or any fillers.  They contain simple spices like garlic, onion, black pepper and paprika, which boost the flavor without adding any fat or calories. They're fully-cooked too, so, they're fine with any method of cooking -- they just need to be heated up.  I cooked mine on the stovetop in a grill pan for 8-10 minutes and they emerged moist and juicy on the inside with a crispy casing, and, they tasted great.

IMG_9326 IMG_9315So simple: Place four Trader Joe's chicken hot dogs in a grill pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat.  Grill, using a spatula to roll them back and forth occasionally to create some nice grill marks, until nicely golden all the way around, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Meet Trader-Joe's (chunky & thick) Island Salsa:

IMG_9318Let's face it, 90% of the condiments we put on our all-beef hot dogs are store-bought and ready-to-eat, and, those that are not require just a bit of easy hands-on slicing, dicing or chopping and/or minimal cooking. My goal was to find a store-bought condiment that enhances the mild flavor of chicken, and, to my glee, I did, right at Trader Joe's.  Their Island Salsa is savory, slightly-sweet and a bit spicy too.  It's chunky and thick and chocked full of Caribbean island flavors:  mango, pineapple, red jalapeño peppers, green and red bell pepper, onion, cilantro and lime. This high-quality product is pure perfection atop a Trader Joe's chicken hot dog.  Moving along:

Meet Mel's sweet & savory super-easy Island Slaw:

IMG_9277The next and last thing my newly-invented Caribbean chicken hot dog needed was a fresh, crunchy, easy-to-make cole slaw that DID NOT compete with the flavors in the Island Salsa.  To make my honey 'n lime dressing, I chose three pantry ingredients (all shaken together):

1/2  cup high-quality organic lime juice (not from concentrate)

1/4  cup + 2 tablespoons honey

1/4  cup vegetable oil

Once the dressing was made, I decided on four compatible but not competing ingredients (meaning IMG_9283the flavors are compatible with but not in competition with those of the Island Salsa) to make my Island Slaw:

1  8-ounce bag slaw mix (green & red cabbage & carrot)

1  cup thinly-sliced green onion (scallion)

1  cup chopped, salted macadamias

1  cup sweetened, flaked coconut

all the lime 'n honey dressing (from above recipe)

IMG_9286 IMG_9292Place slaw ingredients in a bowl, add the dressing and toss together. Refrigerate until well chilled, 1-2 hours or overnight, re-tossing a few times now and then, when convenient.  Recipe yields: 1 cup honey 'n lime dressing and 3 cups slaw.

Four components full of compatible flavors =

IMG_9298a truly great, moist & juicy, Caribbean chicken hot dog.

IMG_9352No need to tell 'em it's healthy -- just enjoy the Island flavors

IMG_9379Joe's Caribbean Chicken Dog w/Joe's Island Salsa:  Recipe yields:  1 cup honey 'n lime dressing/3 cups honey & lime slaw/1, 12-ounce jar Island salsa/enough for 16 Caribbean chicken hot dogs.

Special Equipment List:  1-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top; cutting board; chef's knife; grill pan

IMG_9442Cook's Note:  "Would You Like ~ Oven-Roasted Caribbean-Spiced Sweet Potato Fries ~ with that?" They are the perfect side-dish complement to these Caribbean chicken hot dogs.  Just click on the link to get my recipe.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)


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