It’s easy to believe hot dogs aren’t precooked when you buy them from the supermarket, because typically, they have to be seared on pans or roasted on grills to make them palatable.
But the truth is, hot dogs are fully cooked commodities right after manufacture, and the quick searing and grilling is done so that they acquire the needed heat to make them enjoyable.
For highly compromised individuals however, the story would be a little bit different. Cooking hotdogs on the stove top until steamy hot would help limit or reduce the chances of getting sick due to a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes.
Yes, it is true— hot dogs are pre-cooked.
After the hot dogs get their final form (enclosed in individual casings), they are moved and conveyed to a smokehouse before being packed. A smokehouse is a place or facility where meat products like hot dogs are cured with smoke.
Learn how hot dogs are made.
Generally, hot dogs undergo smoking at a temperature of 109°F (42°C) to 160° (71°C) and smoking could last for a few hours up to a several days. The requirements vary according to the type of meat and moisture content. The temperature and humidity in a smokehouse are well monitored.
The process of smoking has several ways of preserving meat. Aside from the high temperature, the chemical compounds (such as formaldehyde) present in wood smoke have the capacity to fight microbial growth. Several smoke sources can be used, including hardwood, oak, and hickory. Smoking also dehydrates the surface of meat.
After smoking, the hot dogs are subsequently cooked. There are several ways to achieve this.
Submerging the hot dogs in a large cooking vat. The cooking water is maintained at 163°F(73°C)–168°F(76°C).
Dry heating in the smokehouse.
Hot showering in the smokehouse. The water sprayed through nozzles is maintained at 176°F (80°C)–179°F (82°C).
Cooking using steam in containers.
When you think about it, hot dogs go through several preservation methods.
But it is not okay to eat hot dogs raw
Once the hot dogs are made, it is made sure that they are stored in a low temperature environment to keep it from spoiling. However, it doesn’t mean that they can be eaten right out of the package cold. Yes, hot dogs are totally cooked. But like other ready-to-eat (RTD) foods, eating them without reheating or cooking increases the risk of listeriosis
What is listeriosis?
Listeriosis is an infection caused by, a pathogenic bacterium that can withstand low temperatures (a psychrophile). Temperature below their optimum only decreases the enzyme activity in bacteria, not kill them. RTD foods like dairy products and deli meats like hot dogs are common breeding grounds of Listeria monocytogenes
Some people think that food poisoning isn’t a serious matter since most patients recover from it easily without medical treatment. This isn’t true. Yes, food poisoning usually results in flu-like symptoms, but it can still be fatal. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, about 260 people die every year in the U.S. from listeriosis alone.
How To Heat a Hot Dog?
Many ways exist to fully enjoy your hot dogs. Below we take a look at the most promising ways to heat up a hot dog.
Low and slow on grill
When grilling, the primary problem is that the hot dogs can burst due to steam build up.
But putting piercings on hot dogs is a big no for me (because it leaks juice and makes any hot dog dry and less flavorful) and I know it is for you too, so how can we go about grilling without bristing the hot dogs open?
We use the indirect cooking method. We never place the hotdogs over a burning charcoal or heating elements, or flame, rather, we heat up one side to low or medium low and then place the hot dogs on the opposite side to cook.
This method is less harsh and won’t lead to fast build-up of pressure in the hot dogs that can cause them to burst open.
Grill hot dogs until steaming or fully heated through, then place them at angles over the area with the direct heat to print some attractive grill marks. This also adds a crispy layer to the hot dogs.
Sear on pan
Just tossing hot dogs on the skillet or griddle will mostly sear them on the outside and print grill marks on them.
But that’s about it. The inside wouldn’t be as heated thoroughly, and some listeria may still be singing survival songs in there.
So, to fully make sure your hotdogs are cooked thoroughly, bring a half inch deep water to a boil on the skillet and put the hot dogs in there. Cook on all sides until hot dogs turn brown and are steamy hot.
You can also bake hot dogs.
First, preheat the oven to 350 F, then place hot dogs on a pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the hot dogs are steamy hot. You can broil them to make them crispy on the outside.
Boiling hot dogs in plain water can dilute their flavor, and cooking them in other fluids like herb water can also infuse some kind of flavor, bear that at the back of your mind when proceeding with this method.
To boil hot dogs, bring water to a boil and place hot dogs inside. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until heated through and drain.