The Hungover Gourmet


Got Some Free Time? Make Puppet Franks!

For me, grilling and barbecuing have always been about freeing up my time. The dishes that I love making – and make over and over again – are those that require little attention, leaving plenty of time to kick back, relax and suck down another Yuengling. Marinate some London Broil and throw it over the flame. Ram a beer can up a chicken's butt and let the grill do its magic.

Apparently, that concept was lost on barbecue chefs of the 1950s. Granted, filling up a 150+ page cookbook with middle-of-the-road dishes with universal appeal in the days of 'Ozzie and Harriet' couldn't have been easy, hence the need for such dishes as Baby Pizzas, Hot Buttered Popcorn, and Slim-Jim Bread Sticks (which I just might have to make).

Glancing through the pages of the Better Homes & Gardens Barbecue Book ("More than 250 tempting over-the-coals recipes" boasts the cover) it struck me that instead of freeing the weekend barbecuer – usually portrayed as some zombified dad who looks like he has cheerleaders buried under the floorboards – these recipes are way too involved for what they are.

For instance, take Puppet Franks and their Catsupdip accompaniment. This same dish – hot dogs with catsup – could be made in about five minutes. Instead, the recipe – deemed "Extra Easy" in the caption – sounds like you're performing some kind of battlefield surgery! Though I do love the interactive nature of carrying around a hanger full of wieners and offering scissors to my perplexed guests.

Puppet Franks
You slip wieners on cord, like stringing beads, then loop the strings over rod of a hanger for easy handling.

Buy the short chubby-type wieners. For each string, cut off enough cord to hold 6, 8, or 10 wieners when strung lengthwise. Knot end of cord. Using skewer with eye for a needle, string on wieners, knotting cord each time you slip one on (otherwise they'll all tumble off when cord is cut). Tie final knot.

Slash wieners on both sides. Loop strings of wieners, at halfway mark, twice over rod of hanger to secure. Lay wieners on grill – let hanger dangle over side. Broil over hot coals, turning all at once by hanger.

When grilled just right, pick up hanger and dunk wieners in Catsupdip (recipe below). Carry franks to each guest; offer scissors so each one can snip the leash to suit his appetite. Pass extra Catsupdip.


1/4 cup salad oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 14-ounce bottle (1-1/4 cups) catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 to 2 tsps. liquid smoke

Combine all ingredients. Simmer uncovered 15 minutes. Makes 3 cups or enough sauce for dunking about 2 dozen wieners.



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