Anyone that has any kind of contact with me, either in person or on Facebook, has probably heard me extol the deliciousness of carrot dogs. I LOVE CARROT DOGS!! What might you ask are carrot dogs? That’s easy – they’re steamed whole carrots that are then seasoned and grilled – then eaten like a hot dog. Condiment food is how I like to think of them. They are fabulous. Even non-vegetarians love them. I didn’t merely want to talk about eating carrot dogs; I want to talk about the story of carrot dogs. And, because it’s me writing this tale, there are bound to be tangents.
Look – here’s one now…
As you may or may not know, I worked for several years at a wonderful restaurant as a baker – I met a whole slew of fabulous people when there (it was the most fun I ever had working). Several of them I still see on a regular basis. I worked there in 1990 –so this is over 22 years ago that I started hearing my good friend talk about ‘carrot dogs’. Like an insensitive clod, I would wrinkle my nose and say “ewwww – I hate cooked carrots”, never comprehending how foolish I was.
My friend is a hardcore vegetarian (not the holier than thou kind that I cannot abide, but just serious about her beliefs about not eating animals). Anyway – throughout the years she’d talk about carrot dogs but I never had the opportunity to eat them. We talked a lot about food and we were talking about holiday meals and what our families traditionally ate on Christmas (she has two children, who are now both in their 30s). She told me on Christmas Eve in her home with her two children, they eat carrot dogs. I couldn’t comprehend this – my family’s Christmas meals (made by my mother, her sister or their mother) consisted of an array of foods culled from the traditional Sicilian menu – antipasto, Lasagna/Baked Ziti/Ravioli, meatballs, sausage, salad, garlic bread followed by a turkey, AND ham/roast beef and all the accompanying side dishes that one sees at Thanksgiving…then dessert. So imagine my surprise that they CHOSE to eat carrot dogs. CARROT DOGS! I found this highly amusing.
When her son graduated high school he joined the Navy (yes, the hippie vegetarian’s child joined the military – cliché but true). She told me when he came home on leave he had to have carrot dogs for dinner on at least 3 occasions over 10 days. He even 86’d the homemade sides she would make, like potato salad, because he only wanted carrot dogs. He now lives in Japan with his wife and son, and when they visit or my friend visits there, carrot dogs are a must. She has taught her daughter-in-law how to make them, but it’s not the same says her son.
Her other child (a daughter) eventually moved to Virginia and is now married with a child. Her husband is a hard core meat eater, as is his family. My friend made carrot dogs for her daughter’s husband and his family and now it’s required (in a fun way) for her to make carrot dogs for them when she visits or they visit her.
At this point I had to try them. I just had to. I had been hearing about these for 20 years! So one day last year she invited me and some friends over to her house for lunch and made us carrot dogs. She provided us with various fresh and interesting toppings – sunflower sprouts, red onion, tangy sweet/spicy mustard, salsa, pickle relish, Ketchup, mayo (gag) and sauerkraut all accompanied by really nice sprouted wheat buns. I put my first carrot dog together taking her lead (except the mayo) – bun, sunflower sprouts, chopped red onion and mustard. I took my first bite tentatively…fully aware that if it was horrible I would have to choke it down with a smile. It was good. My first bite was good. I put it down, took a tortilla chip and some salsa – had a bit of that…then it was like something in my food-brain lit up and I CRAVED more carrot dog. I ate it, than ate some more – finished my first …and then decided to skip the bun so I can just have the carrot dog with all my favorite toppings. It was freakin’ fabulous. Everyone at the table loved them. My friend was beaming with joy. We were all stunned with how amazing (I know, I use that word a lot) carrot dogs tasted. I could totally see how they became the Christmas Eve meal of choice.
I ate carrot dogs every day for a week afterwards. It took me a few trys to get the proper texture/taste when steaming – because they can’t be crisp and have a raw carroty taste – nor can they be mushy. They have to be soft but firm. And they must be grilled afterwards – in a skillet or on the grill – either way is fine.
Within two weeks of experiencing the ecstasy of carrot dogs, another friend of ours had a big birthday party BBQ – the ‘you kill it/we grill it’ variety. My friend brought carrot dogs – she steamed more than she would eat so that the hosts could try them (and me!!). There was some guy there that no one really knew – one of those friend of a friend situations…he was kind of a jerk. Well – not kind of – he was a jerk. Some people were giving her a hard time about the carrot dogs (fools!) but in a good natured way – this friend-of-a-friend-jerk really ribbed her in a way that made her feel self-conscious and leery of sharing. Luckily the birthday boy was busy grilling the carrot dogs – on a separate BBQ strictly for veggie foods – and let me tell you … those dogs were the sleeper hit of the party… jerk-boy ate two. They were gone in about 10 minutes. No one ribbed her afterwards.
I have since had my friends over for carrot dogs – and they were much loved. The conversations are always the same – we sit around and talk about what we would love to put on carrot dogs…like hummus or feta or hot sauce…it never fails. We all start out curious we all end up addicted.
So the point of this story? CARROT DOGS ARE DAMN GOOD! …And are paired well with Arctic Monkeys, Country Joe & The Fish, Esquivel, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and a variety of other delicious musical side dishes.
Prepare whole carrots – scrub or peel them, chop off the ends
- Place carrots in a steamer; turn the heat up to high and steam for 25-30 minutes (starting from cold water not once it’s boiled). I like to check after 25 minutes by cutting off small bit of the thickest carrot and making sure it’s not raw tasting. Typically, I will steam for an extra 5 minutes (total time 30 minutes)
- Remove from steamer – and coat lightly with olive oil and spices. Spike is nice, but I like salt, pepper & tabasco.
- Grill either on a grill or in a skillet – this caramelizes the carrot and is a must. I like mine on the burnt side.
- You can put some BBQ sauce on it if you like – but it’s totally up to you
- Put on your favorite condiments and enjoy