There are many ways for plant-based and vegan eaters to enjoy one of the summer food staples, the hot dog. Most grocery store (supermarket) chains in US now carry plant-based hot dogs, and I tried a few. They are OK, and some are really, really good! This makes dinner really quick and easy – from fridge to plate in less than 15 minutes, but the store bought vegan hot dogs are not cheap, and depending on the brand they may not taste all that great.
Enter a super cheap, super easy, super cute and super hero hot dog alternative: carrot dog! If you have not seen or tried these you are missing out. Carrot Dogs are what they are – carrots made into a hot dog. Now, some of you may think that carrot is a carrot and it’s perfect the way it is. I agree: carrots are perfect as they are, and joy to munch any time. But, we all now carrots have always led a secret agent life as a sweet vegetable that can be made into a cake, a muffin, a cookie or in many other things. So why not a hot dog?
I started seeing posts on Carrot Dogs few months ago and had to admit it to myself: Carrot Dogs are an IT items this summer. So, I went for it and boy or boy do I like the results. I made carrots dogs couple of times now and they made the rounds: to the beach, to the back yard BBQ party, to the laid back late summer dinner outdoors. Trust me: they are absolutely worth it!
One thing to keep in mind is the thickness of your carrots. They should be relatively evenly cylindrical and about the diameter of a regular hotdog. Take some time to eyeball your carrots and pick those that look they fit the part. Also, keep in mind that they should fit nicely into your hot dog bun, so cut them accordingly. If you want to get really realistic, you can shape their ends into a hot dog looking end lobes, but I didn’t. All this is purely cosmetic and at the end of the day will not change the taste. But, if you are entertaining and want to go for a real WOW factor, take some time to fine tune the look of your carrot dogs. You may want to do this final fine sculpting step after your carrot dogs are cooked, as they will be softer and easier to carve.
Speaking of cooking carrot dogs, there is one major trick to a perfect carrot dog: boiling the carrots just enough to make them as soft as a regular hot dog would be. This is a bit tricky because that level softness in a carrot is only a step or two removed from when the carrots start to fall apart when handled with a fork or a pair of grill tongs. The exact time will depend on how thick your carrrots are, and what variety they are. I started with boiling the carrots for 11 minutes and that turned out not to be enough, so I went up to about 15 to 16 minutes which was much better. I also tried the pressure cooker – that was way too much!
Once you have your perfectly shaped and perfectly cooked carrot dogs, they will need to spend some time marinating in a mix of oil, vinegar, and spices which all work together to add a layer of hot dogginess to the carrots. The marinating step can take anywhere between half an hour to couple of hours. Longer is fine, and you can make your carrots a day ahead and leave them to marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Less than half an hour is probably not going to be long enough.
The second to last thing that remains to be done is grilling, and that takes only a few minutes per side. The dogs are fully cooked so all you really want to do here is add some grill marks and get some caramelization going. If you like your hot dog buns warm, you can put them on the grill once your carrot dog is a minute away from being done. So, the very last thing is to put the dog into the bun and top it with your favorite hot dog topping. I go a bit wild with my condiments and pile on ketchup, yellow mustard, and dill relish but really anything goes. Bite in, and be amazed at how great carrot dogs taste. Believe me, you will immediately understand why people are raving about these!!!
What you’ll need:
8-12 carrots (or as many as you like)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard
Cooking oil (for oiling the grill)
Hot dog buns, mustard, ketchup, relish, sauerkraut, chili – anything else you like – for serving!!!
What you’ll do:
- Peel and cut your carrots to be about the length of your hot dog buns. You don’t need to be super precise but do try to pick carrots that are more or less cylindrical, and about the same diameter as this will help them cook more evenly.
- Place carrots into a pot – I use the pot with large bottom so the carrots can lay flat – and cover with water. Bring water to boil, and boil carrots for 10 to 16 minutes. You will need to keep an eye on your carrots and check from time to time as the exact time will vary from a carrot variety to a carrot variety, and depend on how thick your carrot dogs are.
- While carrots are cooking, whisk together the marinade by mixing together vegetable broth, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and ground mustard.
- Run the hot carrots under the cold water to stop the cooking, drain, pat dry, and add to the marinade. Marinate for about 30 to 60 minutes at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the outdoor grill for grilling as you would normally do. I have a gas grill and turn all my burners on full blast for 5 minutes, with the lid down to burn off any leftovers from last time. Then I dial them back and use my brush to clean off any remaining bits and pieces from the grill grates. Once that’s done I dip a paper towel in some oil and using a pair of long tongs pass the oiled paper towel over the grill grates. Now we are ready!
- Place your carrot dogs on the grill over medium high heat and grill for couple of minutes on each side, or until nice grill marks form. You could brush the carrot dogs with the marinade as they cook to prevent them from drying out, but the process is quite quick and this may not be necessary. One tip: if you marinated your carrot dogs in the refrigerator, take them out a hour before you plan to grill them to let them come to room temperature. That will help with flavors and the grilling.
- Enjoy the carrot dogs the way you would any ole’ hot dog!
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017