Earlier in March I was able to get away for a much anticipated trip to New York to taste NYC’s top Michelin-starred restaurants. That was before COVID-19 hit and the government restricted travel…like 10 days before all mayhem let loose. My goal was to dine in some of the finest restaurants known to man.
As I traveled around the city I couldn’t help but notice there were hot dog stands seemingly on every corner. Each cart I came to had all the fixings you can think of. If you don’t know, I’m from the South, so “fixings” is my word of choice. For all of you non-Southerners, we’ll just say that each cart had tons of condiments to choose from. There was mustard, ketchup, sauerkraut, coleslaw, chopped onion, chili, nacho cheese, jalapenos, tomatoes…you name it and it was spot on! On a nice day out in Manhattan a tasty hot dog can certainly hit the spot…and it did!
That experience made me think about my own upbringing, here in Memphis, in the Klondike neighborhood known as Smokey City. As a child, one of my favorite foods was a Circle B smoked sausage slathered in ketchup. I love ketchup on almost anything! Circle B’s are produced right here in the south and are a staple at almost all of my family’s barbecues and cook-outs.
Not to sound like an ad, but the smokey flavor of the Circle B Smoked Sausage with it’s blend of pork, chicken, and beef and signature red casing, is to a hot dog bun what peanut butter is to jelly…magical.
So, I’ve created a special recipe for this “anything-but-ordinary” sausage by adding pickled vegetables and my own low-sodium BBQ sauce for a kick unlike any other. I’m calling this recipe the Smokey City Link and even prepared this dish on ABC 24’s show Local Memphis Live with host Amy Speropoulos. (By the way…she LOVED IT!)
Smokey City Link (serves 4)
- 4 Circle B © Smoked Sausages
- 4 hot dog buns
- Pickled Vegetables for topping (recipe follows)
- Smokey City BBQ Sauce for topping (recipe follows)
- In a grill pan, preheat the grill to its hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. Just before tossing on the sausages, lower the heat to medium (about 400°F/205°C). Grill the sausages for 3 to 4 minutes, until charred but not blackened. Flip and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
- Your sausages are ready to come off the grill when the skin is slightly blistered.
- Place hot dog in the bun. Pile on the toppings!
- ½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 cup thinly sliced vegetables (such as carrot, red onion and/or cucumber)
- Whisk vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Add vegetables and let sit for 10 minutes, squeezing gently with your hands occasionally to help them pickle quicker.
Do Ahead: Vegetables can be pickled 3 days in advance. Cover and chill
Smokey City BBQ Sauce
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 tbsp. honey
- 1/2 cup dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion, garlic and butter until the onion is translucent.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Stirring often.
- Transfer the sauce into a food processor and blend all of the ingredients together. If you prefer a smoother sauce then run the sauce through a strainer.
Put it on a plate and enjoy!!!