Don’t all kids love hot dogs? I know I did. I even ate them raw from time to time. But when I got older, even before I became a vegetarian, I started hearing about what disgusting things go into hot dogs. I’ll refrain from mentioning them. Needless to say, I stopped eating hot dogs. But I REALLY liked them – especially with mustard and sauerkraut, or chili and shredded cheese.
Then, when my own children came along, hot dogs seemed the natural food to serve kids….especially when they’re picky eaters, like mine were/are. I mean, what’s not to like about a hot dog? Except, of course, for the gross things that are in them. I briefly debated serving them to my kids, but I stayed strong. When I heard about tofu hot dogs I thought they would be the perfect answer to my dilemma. Hot dogs are bland. Tofu is bland. What could go wrong?, I asked myself. Sadly, I answered that question by spitting out the first (and only) bite from a randomly picked package of tofu dogs. I’d just grabbed any ol’ package – I figured, much like real hot dogs, they’d all taste the same. Tofu is tofu, right? I know better now. But at that time, I threw out the pack I’d bought and added fake hot dogs to my list of dashed hopes (right under marrying Prince Charles – don’t judge!).
When I told a vegetarian friend of mine about my tofu dog fiasco, she suggested I try Linketts by Loma Linda. I politely declined, but she went to her kitchen and insisted I try it. Thank goodness she’s more stubborn than I (and I’m pretty stubborn)! I couldn’t believe how good it was: moist, with a nice bland flavor, and the texture of a real hot dog. That’s when I realized that not all fake meats are created equal. Duh! My kids loved them. I loved them. My husband (the carnivore) liked them. Hey, I’ll take ‘liked’.
Then one day we were at the state fair and, like any good state fair, they sold corn dogs. Hmmmm! I wondered if I could make corn dogs using the Linketts. Then I went one step further. Hmmmm! I wonder if I could bake them instead of deep frying. I realized the dipping corn meal batter wouldn’t work for baking. So I came up with a corn meal biscuit dough and my vegetarian, healthier CORN DOG recipe was born!
A few notes:
- You can make MINI CORN DOGS as snacks or hors d’oeuvres by cutting the hot dogs in half.
- The dough recipe makes 12 CORN DOGS but each can contains 10 hot dogs. So you can either freeze the extra dough or open another can and save the 8 unused hot dogs for another time. Or, if you like a LOT of dough around the CORN DOG, you can use all the dough for the 10 hot dogs.
- Taste is subjective. I LOVE Linketts. But you may not. Use whatever brand you like – you won’t hurt my feelings!
If you’re a visual learner (or just want to see me in action), you can view my HOW TO MAKE CORN DOGS video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QOP5zT8Z8U
CORN DOGS – makes 12 full sized or 24 mini
- 12 fake hot dogs (Linketts contains 10 hot dogs per can)
- 1 cup milk (I used nonfat – but whatever you have is fine)
- 2/3 cup corn meal (I used a medium grind)
- 3 T butter
- 1 ¼ cup flour (I used organic all-purpose)
- 1 T sugar
- 1 T baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 cup Romano cheese, shredded
- 1 egg
- 1 T water
Heat the milk in a saucepan to scalding (it will just start to foam on top – you don’t want to boil milk). Turn off burner and add the corn meal. Mix until the mixture thickens. If it gets too lumpy (depending on the type of corn meal you use) just get out your potato masher and smash out the lumps. Add in the butter and stir until the butter is melted and blended. Let cool.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and Romano cheese.
Dump the corn meal into the flour mix and begin mixing everything together. Remember, you’re making a biscuit dough so use a light hand (i.e., DON’T OVERWORK THE DOUGH!) or it will be tough. Once a lot of the flour (but not all) is incorporated, knead the dough 10 times. I do this in the bowl by mashing everything down, then folding one half over the other half, then mashing that down to refill the bowl. Turn the bowl a quarter turn and repeat. Keep repeating until you’ve done this 10 times. NOTE: I always count out loud so I don’t forget where I am. (Yes, it’s a little crazy, but my mind tends to wander.) As you’re doing this, if you see flour on the bottom, just sprinkle it on top of the dough and when you next fold over. It will get mixed in.
On a WELL FLOURED (you know it’s important if I used all caps!) board, roll out the dough to a rectangle 10″ high by 18″ wide. It doesn’t have to be perfect – the dough can be molded fairly easily around the hot dog. Using a pizza cutter (or a knife) cut the dough in half width-wise, and into 6 pieces height-wise. You now have 12 little rectangles. NOTE: if you’re making MINI CORN DOGS, cut 24 rectangles by cutting the dough into thirds width-wise, then into eighths height-wise.
Open the Linketts can and empty out the liquid. Don’t do this ahead of time – you want the moisture to help mold the dough. One by one, wrap each hot dog in a dough rectangle, pinching all edges so the hot dog is completely enclosed. Smooth it out so there are no rough bits. Take a dry pastry brush and brush off the excess flour. Place each CORN DOG on greased cookie sheet (unless you’re using a non-stick one).
Preheat the oven to 375 º Fahrenheit as you do this final step. In a small bowl beat together the egg and 1 T water. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash on each CORN DOG. Bake for 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.
If you’d like to add sticks so they look like the real thing, insert them after you wrap the dough. Then, with moist fingers, pinch the dough to the stick at the insertion point.
One last thing – if you’re frugal, like me (cheap!), it will break your heart to have all the leftover egg wash. So don’t throw it out. Put it in a little Tupperware and freeze it for future use. Or, of course, you can keep it for scrambled eggs if you’re making them soon. But I’m the Queen of Freeze (No! Not an Ice Queen!), so I freeze mine. I can get a few egg wash uses out of one egg. A penny saved….!