Anatomy of a Sonoran Dog: Hermosillo

I begrudgingly gave up on referring to these loaded hot dogs as ‘Hermosillo Dogs,’ as their legitimate name should be, hailing from the same hot desert city I come from, Hermosillo, capital of the northern Mexican state of Sonora, although my stubbornness was this time for good reason.

There’s approximately five city based styles of hot dogs in the state of Sonora, all similar yet unique; it’s a shame to take away from that street food diversity and lump them all under one name. This being said, of course my own particular bias is towards the Hermosillo style, call it the pull of nostalgia combined with my appetite for an overload of toppings.

Born on the campus of the University of Sonora, the dogs have changed considerably over time, but the best place to eat them is still in the plaza in front of the university. Not that it’s necessary to travel as far as Hermosillo to enjoy one of these hot dogs. Even before Saveur magazine named them in 2011 one of the top 100 street foods of the world, Americans had become well acquainted with the ‘Sonoran Dog,’ at least in cities like Los Angeles, Tucson, Phoenix and New York.

Sonoran Dog: Hermosillo Style

The foundation:

The bread: A slightly sweet roll, larger than the typical hot dog bun, soft, yet sturdy enough to contain the desired toppings. Potato rolls make a fine substitution both in flavor and texture, but sadly not in topping containment. I suggest a large plate and a fork as an addition to this recipe.

Wrap that dog in bacon. Wrap bacon around the dog. Cook over medium heat, either on a grill, skillet, or broiler.

Like all Mexican food, there is no one set recipe for this dish, but there are certain common toppings vendors will present to customers to choose from:

Chorizo and beans: Fresh Mexican-style chorizo with whole pinto beans. If you already have your hot dog wrapped in bacon, you might as well throw another pork product on there.

Lime mayonnaise. As simple as adding a tablespoon or two of fresh lime juice into good quality store-bought mayonnaise, or making your own. 1 egg yolk, 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1 cup canola oil. Place all ingredients except the oil in a blender jar. Run at medium speed until thickened and ribbons appear. Slowly drizzle the oil, adding more lime juice or cold water if it becomes too thick. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Avocado sauce: Avocado blended with Mexican cream, lime juice and salt. When making these at home, I would just as rather chop avocado, toss them with lime juice and pile them on the dog. This is not a guacamole, rather a runnier sauce.

Fresh toppings: Your basics are chopped tomatoes and red onions. Newer and in my opinion completely unnecessary: shredded iceberg lettuce and diced cucumber mixed with charred corn. It’s a hot dog, not a salad.

White onion slices: Cooked in bacon fat, of course.

Pickled toppings: curtido de jalapeño, or pickled jalapeño. Extra points for pickled mushrooms, and spicy pickled white onions and carrots. Big no: American style pickle chips. This is a case of gilding a lily which was already perfectly gold and shiny. Dial it back a bit homie.

Sauces: Salsa bandera (known in the US as pico de gallo), salsa de tomatillo, salsa roja, and bottled hot sauces to choose from. Variety and spice, in liquid form. Occasionally, and unnecessarily, ketchup and mustard, but why bother?

Cheeses: originally, crumbled queso fresco. Now days, more commonly crumbled cotija and shredded queso amarillo, cheddar cheese.

The spicy finish: a jalapeño or chile güero (banana pepper), roasted, preferably also in bacon fat, placed on top of the dog, or chomped on in between mouthfuls of fully loaded hot dog.

Eat it with a side of thick cut fries, if deemed necessary.

With all these topping options, everyone will have their own preferred combination.

My own: lime mayo, chorizo with beans, pickled jalapeños, carrots and onions, chopped tomatoes, avocado cream or on a very lazy day just diced avocado, queso fresco, and salsa roja when feeling a little nuts.

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