Hot Dog Days return to Joe’s Farm Grill

Joe Johnston, co-owner of Joe’s Farm Grill, shows off the Carolina Blue Dog and Sonoran Dog, two of the Hot Dog Days of Summer specials that are on the regular menu as well. (Courtesy of Joe’s Farm Grill)

Now an annual tradition, the Hot Dog Days of Summer have returned through the end of September at Joe’s Farm Grill in Gilbert, featuring nine wiener-based gourmet sandwiches showcasing flavors inspired from around the globe, from Hawaii to Vietnam and Mexico to Michigan.

Tim Peelen, co-owner of Joe’s Farm Grill, came up with the idea based on his upbringing in the Midwest.

There, the “dog days of summer” generally end on Labor Day, “but not in Gilbert, Arizona,” he said. Here, the dog days of summer and warm weather continue and “hot dogs are warm-weather fare,” he noted.

The specials, made with local Schreiner’s sausages and all-beef dogs, have run almost every September for roughly a decade, Peelen said.

This year’s menu includes seven dogs not on the regular menu, including three all-new creations: the Banh Mi Dog, Loco Moco Dog and Reuben Dog. All dogs are $13 or $19 for two, which includes a side, and you can mix and match.

“This is what I do: I dream about food,” Peelen said. “And I dream about comfort food. And I am always trying different combinations and iterations.”

The Banh Mi Dog was inspired by Peelen’s love of street food. It’s made with sliced Schreiner’s Bockwurst medallions (mild veal-pork sausage), fresh house-pickled carrot, daikon, cucumber, serrano pepper and cilantro layered on a toasted French roll with mayo and herb liver paté spread.

“That’s the one I’m really, really curious about this year to see how people receive that,” Peelen said. “It’s a lot of fun; it’s delicious; it’s a little lighter than the others.”

It uses a chicken liver paté recipe from a restaurant where he worked in college.

Peelen said he devised the Loco Moco Dog after two trips to Hawaii in the

past year. It riffs on the classic Hawaiian comfort food using an open-face buttered grilled bun, sticky rice, burger patty, split grilled hot dog and homemade brown gravy, topped with a fried sunny-side up egg.

“We make a scratch brown gravy with beef bones and marrow and make our own stock,” Peelen explained. “We go all out to make it authentic and make it really delicious. No corners cut on ingredients.”

The Reuben Dog has hand-sliced corned beef brisket, melted Swiss and fresh sauerkraut piled on a grilled split hot dog with house-made Russian dressing on a caraway-seed bun.

“You can’t really tell where the hot dog stops and the corned beef starts,” Peelen stated. “It all works together quite nicely.”

The Dog Days of Summer always features a spicy dog, and this year it’s the Dynamite Dog, with Schreiner’s spicy pork hot link, scorpion pepper and habanero cream cheese topped with hand-breaded fried chilito peppers and sweet-hot pepper jelly.

Other specials include:

The BBQ Bacon Blue O-Ring Dog, a bacon-wrapped hot dog dipped in barbecue sauce and threaded through three onions rings nestled on blue cheese.

The Big Fat Greek Dog, a smoked Greek-seasoned pork sausage topped with tzatziki sauce and Greek fries piled with garlic sauce, feta, tomatoes, kalamata olives and fresh herbs.

The Cheddar Coney Dog, a grilled hot dog smothered with homemade Michigan Coney chili sauce, diced white onions and yellow mustard and piled with a mound of fine-shredded Tillamook cheddar.

Two dogs also on the regular menu are:

The Caroline Blue Dog, a grilled dog topped with Joe’s famous barbecued pulled pork, tangy crumbled bleu cheese and hand-cut sweet coleslaw and drizzled with Joe’s Real BBQ sauce and homemade ranch dressing.

The Sonoran Dog, a jalapeño-stuffed bacon-wrapped fried hot dog with homemade pinto beans, cotija cheese and pico de gallo topped with a yellow mustard and sour cream-mayo drizzle.

Peelen has done exhaustive research to honor the food traditions that inspired the dogs. For the Cheddar Coney Dog, for example, he went to several Detroit coney dog restaurants to sample the goods and develop his own chili.

“The [recipe] I settled on, I love it,” Peelen said. “There’s no beans or anything in it. A few secret ingredients.”

All the special dogs are piled so high that they’re meant to be eaten with a knife and fork, Peelen noted – “although it’s fun to see guys pick them up and try to eat them with their hands,” he added.

People look forward to the Hot Dog Days of Summer every year, Peelen said.

“It’s a difficult thing to put together operationally to do all of these at the same time,” Peelen explained. “And just doing them for a month, there’s so many new ingredients; things we normally don’t have in house: making the gravy and pickling all the vegetables and bringing in the corned beef to slice.”

However, the staff enjoys the challenge.

“They know it’s great fun for customers,” Peelen said, adding, “It’s really the only time we pull out all the stops and really go for it. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

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(1) comment


I wish to suggest a Bacon wrapped Hot Dog

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