Let’s be real: for most, the blissfully ignorant days of loving the classic American hot dog are over. Because, well, we just don’t know what’s in those things. But rather than picking up an impostor in the health food aisle, why not turn to Denmark: a country equally enamored with traditional casual sausages. The difference between the two? The Danish pølse, as it’s called, is made up of natural pork (mixed with spices like nutmeg and cardamom), stuffed into a natural lamb casing and smoked over beech wood. (And, they actually snap with your first bite.)
As Copenhagen Street Dog founders Martin and Sera Høedholt explain, “Calling it a hot dog is like calling prosciutto a lunch meat.” These two pølse-obsessed Danes (now based in Brooklyn) are on a mission to show New Yorkers—and ultimately, the American masses—that their native sausage is much juicier and more flavorful than the US’ sad little short versions. For Copenhagen Street Dogs the duo uses pork from locally sourced, pasture-raised pigs, which is gluten-, antibiotic- and GMO-free. For purists, they have the røde pølse (a red sausage), that is best when boiled in water with garlic, onion, vinegar and a little bacon. But if you’re after a classic pølsevogn (sausage wagon) dog, pick up a brown grillpølse (a grilled sausage).
Both varieties are available online from Scandinavian Butik ($10 per package) and will hit grocery stores this spring, but New Yorkers can get their fill at Copenhagen Street Dog’s upcoming Second Annual Winter Hot Dog Championship. Attendees will get to vote on one of three gourmet hot dog creations that have been dutifully narrowed down from the hundreds of entries submitted in the Online Topping Contest. Last year’s winner was the God Morgen Dog, which was topped with jalapeno coleslaw, deviled egg cream, Sriracha and bacon.
When it comes to championship toppings, creativity is encouraged. “No entries were that strange (or perhaps we liked the strange entries), but some ingredients that stick out [from last year] are salty licorice syrup and chocolate rød kål (red cabbage),” says Martin. “The turnout was around 200 people, which was really crowded but a lot of fun. What we learned is that people were very split on the winner, and very adamant about it.”
But to help lock in that classic pølse flavor, Copenhagen Street Dogs plan to launch Danish condiments like apple ketchup, remoulade and agurksalat (sweet pickles). Until then, check out their serving suggestions or lend your own ideas via the Toppings Contest through 5 February 2016.
Copenhagen Street Dog’s Second Annual Winter Hot Dog Championship takes place 21 February at Jimmy’s No. 43 in Manhattan.
Images courtesy of Copenhagen Street Dog