At some point in 2012, I began to hear murmurings of a crazy new restaurant, that only sold hot dogs and champagne : Bubbledogs in Fitzrovia. I wanted to go. I heard queueing was pretty intense. I still wanted to go. I went. I was told it would be at least an hour’s wait. I waited. After the first hour, I got told it would be another hour. I kept on waiting. After three hours, I was let through the door.I finally got sat down. I stuffed my face and drank a lot of champers. And then it was over.
Despite the three hour wait and a slightly dodgy dog choice (who knew I didn’t like celery?) I really enjoyed my time at bubble dogs. The combination of champagne and hot dogs was a surprisingly impressive pairing and, whilst mine might not have been the best dog on the menu, I reveled in the endless rush of delicious dogs passing me by: an exciting display of quality toppings and epic sides.
The girl next to me had the chilli dog and tater tots and I was appropriately jealous. My friend had the José, with the inspired executive decision of adding cheese. The Mexican dog, with its fresh salsa, guacamole and sour cream was a classic combination of flavours, and with one of the beef franks, it tasted really special. The sweet potato fries there were great. Amazingly crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside : totally delicious.
The whole experience left me wanting more but, to save myself another three hour stint in the freezing cold, I figured I’d go ahead and try it all at home.
I knew it couldn’t be hard. Hot dogs are hardly seen as a gourmet kitchen feat. But I knew the key was in recreating quality toppings and epic sides.
Check out their website, and definitely put it on your London restaurant bucket list. http://www.bubbledogs.co.uk, situated on Charlotte Street, W1T. Waiting may not fully compensate for the food, but you can’t really go wrong with bubbles and meaty goodness.
So, here’s my first dinner party reinvention :
The José and The Sloppy Joe with Sweet Potato Fries and Tater Tots.
And prosecco. Of course.
Sweet Potato Fries
Let’s start with these bad boys.
You’re gonna need:
2 sweet potatoes
3 tbsp corn flour
Peel your potatoes and cut them in half.
Thickly slice the potato vertically, and then into thick strips. You don’t want the fries to be too thin.
Gather your fries, and put them in a bowl of cold water. Leave them to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes. This releases some of the starch and will help them to get nice and crispy.
In a plastic bag, or on your surface, coat the (dried) strips of sweet potato in the corn flour. This is what will make them have that lovely crunch. Transfer your sweet potato fries to a baking tray, spaced out from each other to ensure they will cook evenly.
Coat the fries in oil, making sure to toss them around, and then pop them in a 200° oven. After 15 minutes, if you take them out they’ll look more golden. Turn them, and continue to check on them every 5 minutes for between 5-15 minutes until they are golden and crispy, but not too brown.
Sprinkle with some salt, and they’re ready to go.
You’ll need :
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cream cheese
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 medium eggs
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Oil (whatever you’ve got)
Peel your potatoes.
Cut your potatoes into small chunks, so that they boil easily. Add boiling water (with a pinch of salt) to a pan, and over a high heat, boil the potatoes.
After 15-20 minutes, or until you can poke a knife in and they feel soft, drain the water from the pan and then pop the potatoes back in.
Start mashing. Add butter, cream cheese, and salt and pepper. Keep mashing.
Once mashed, transfer to a bowl on your counter top.
Add the flour and eggs, and mix well. Your mixture will be wet, but thick.
Get a tablespoon of mixture, and drop it into a little bowl of your panko breadcrumbs.
With your hands, roll the mash around in the crumbs, then gather it in the palm of your hand, and shape into cylinders. (This is messy work)
Once you’ve shaped all your tots, heat up your oil in a deep frying pan. Have a slotted spoon to hand. You’ll know when the oil is ready if you flick a droplet of water in and it fizzes like mad.
Be very careful for oil spitting, this is when you have to be at your most alert, and make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot. Allow the tots to crisp up, for about a minute and a half on each side, but use your judgement. They should be golden brown, not burnt – if they’re burning straight away, turn down the hob because your oil is too hot. Transfer the tots when they’re done onto a plate with some kitchen roll to soak up some of the oil.
Sprinkle with some salt and serve with a good helping of ketchup.
The José Dog
Ingredients (don’t be intimidated by how many there are, I promise its easy.)
For the salsa :
5 large vine tomatoes
1/2 red onion
1/2 large lime (or 1 small one)
1 red chilli
1 large handful freshly chopped coriander
Salt & pepper
For the guacamole :
1/2 large lime (or 1 small one)
1/2 handful freshly chopped coriander (optional)
2 heaped tablespoons of salsa
Salt & pepper
Hot dog buns
Beef sausages (mine were cracked black pepper ones from Sainsburys)
After gathering your ingredients, start by halving your tomatoes.
With a spoon, core and de-seed the tomatoes, until you’re just left with the flesh. Discard the insides. This’ll give your salsa a much better texture.
Chop up your tomato finely and pop it in a bowl.
Next, get half your red onion, and chop it vertically, and then horizontally, until you’ve got finely diced pieces.
Add your onion to the bowl of chopped tomato.
De-seed and finely chop your red chilli, being careful to wash your hands afterwards, and add to the bowl.
Finely chop your coriander. If you never let the knife leave the board, a rocking motion is the most effective way to chop up fresh herbs finely.
Add the coriander, and the juice from your 1/2 lime to the bowl, and combine the mixture. Cover the bowl and set aside while you make the guacamole.
Cut your avocados in half. Do this by slicing around the core and then turning each half to separate them from each other.
With some speed, let your knife fall onto the core so that it sticks. Twist the knife, and remove the core.
Chop up the halved avocados, and spoon them into a bowl.
Using a fork, or a potato masher, get your avocado mixture to a smooth, consistency (I like some lumps still though).
Squeeze in some lime, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Add 2 heaped tablespoons of your salsa into the guacamole and combine. Add some additional coriander (if you want to)
Grate some cheese, and then you’ve got everything ready to assemble your dogs. Photos of the final product will come after the next dog!
The Sloppy Joe Dog
Ingredients for the chilli:
500g lean beef mince
1 large onion
200g chopped tomatoes (that’s half a tin or carton)
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp worcester sauce
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cayenne chilli powder
1/2 cup water
Salt & pepper
To serve :
Pork or beef sausage
Diced red onion
Gather all your ingredients.
Start of by halving and taking of the skin of your onion. Finely chop up your onion and set aside.
Get out your garlic cloves. While the skin is on, use the blunt edge of your knife to press down on the clove, so it smashes and the skin comes away easily. Do this to all the cloves.
Drizzle some olive oil into your pan, and begin to cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly to ensure the onion doesn’t stick to the bottom.
After the onions begin to soften, add the garlic and the meat. With your wooden spoon, break apart the mince and stir continuously.
Once your meat is almost all entirely browned, add the chopped tomatoes.
Add ketchup, water, worcester sauce, spices, salt & pepper, and remember, it’s to your taste, so adjust any of the measurements to what feels best to you.
Mix all together, and then leave on a low heat, with the lid on, for at least an hour, so it gets reduces and gets really tender.
Chop some more red onion for garnish, and get access to the grated cheese you made for the José.
Now, after spiking the sausages, place them under the grill in your oven (on the highest heat) turning regularly for 15-20 minutes. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packets. Cut your bread rolls in half, and lay the sausage inside, and then layer on all your toppings!
Serve and enjoy!
Thank you to Louise, for eating as much as she could, and to Talisa, my quality-controlling editor 🙂