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Dog daze of summer 

There’s no such thing as a bad barbecued hot dog, but there is a perfect one. Street food newbie T-Dogs shares advice for the best wurst.

click to enlarge LENNY MULLINS
  • Lenny Mullins

2533 Agricola Street
Tue-Sat, 12-7pm

Tony Rinaldo, Sam Rinaldo and Patrick Lowe spend five days a week under the auspicious gaze of Mr. Peabody, the smartest dog that ever lived. In many ways, the writing—or drawing, in this case—is on the wall: T-Dogs is serving up some genius hot dogs with brilliant topping combinations in that little parking lot on Agricola Street. The crew at T-Dogs have advice for perfecting your summer snacks, to make sure you have the hottest dog possible.

“For the perfect dog, you’ve got to have a really soft bun, and a high-quality hot dog with natural casings, made with good ingredients. It has to have that nice natural snap you can only get form a natural casing,” Tony Rinaldo says. T-Dogs makes their sausages with a mix of meat and fat from Getaway Farms, Oulton’s and Chater’s.

You also have to do a bit of hot dog math. “There can’t be too much bun to hot dog ratio, and you can’t over-top with condiments,” says Rinaldo. “It has to be just right. And it has to have a good ratio of salt, sweetness, and acid. A perfect example is the classic mustard, relish and ketchup: you get the salt from the hot dog, the relish and ketchup give you acid and sweetness and the mustard adds spice.”

“My dad said something years ago to us,” Tony Rinaldo says. “‘A recipe is only as good as its weakest ingredient.’ So if you’re starting with a really bad hot dog, you’re just going to have a crappy end product.” Basically, there’s no mystery to a good hot dog when there’s no mystery to the meat.

The Frito Pie dog has been the cart's fan favourite. Covered with a meat and three-bean chili, avocado, aged cheddar, a cilantro crema, crumbled Frito chips and green onions, it's summer indulgence at its heart-busting best.

The Montreal Steamy is an iconic dog: a simple steamed wienie with a squirt of mustard, a slap of relish and some onions or cabbage slaw tossed on top. T-Dogs gussies up its version with a crunchy purple cabbage slaw and a sweet, tart corn relish.

Corn Relish

6 ears corn (husked, cleaned)
1 english cucumber (diced)
2 roma tomatoes (diced)
1 red pepper (diced)
1 onion (diced)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dry mustard
½ tsp celery seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp turmeric
3 tbsp cornstarch

Method: Place all ingredients except the cornstarch in a pot and simmer for 25 minutes. Mix cornstarch with a bit of water, then add to the pot and cook for 5 more minutes. This will thicken the mixture. Spoon corn relish into jars and seal.

Creamy Cabbage Slaw

1 head of purple cabbage (shaved thin)
1 head of green cabbage (shaved thin)
1 onion (finely sliced)
3 tbsp chopped chives
1 ½ cups homemade mayonnaise
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp celery salt
salt and pepper to taste

Method: Place cabbage, onion, and chives into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, celery salt, salt and pepper together. Toss this dressing with the salad vegetables.

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