An evening around a campfire or camping trip would not be complete without roasting hot dogs over the open flames. In addition to the classic stick roasting method, hot dogs can be roasted in a pan, a roasting basket or over a grill grate. Toast some buns in a pan or grill and have the condiments ready for guests to customize the hot dogs to their preference.
Classic Wienie Stick
Hot dog roasting does not require any special utensils or equipment when an abundance of trees surrounding the campfire. Simply cut a straight branch from a tree, sharpen the tip, strip off the lateral branches and push the hot dog onto the tip. Avoid trees with high sap content and stick to green sticks -- seasoned sticks break easily and catch fire over the flame.
Cut the hot dog in a spiral around the stick to enjoy more wood fire flavor and expose more surface area to caramelization. Another fun option is to cut a hot dog into eighths the long way, from one end to the midsection -- the sections curl up as they cook to resemble spiders or octopuses. Hold the stick above the flames and rotate it slowly for even roasting until the exterior begins to sizzle or crack. Metal roasting forks work in much the same way, but feature two tines to hold the hot dog perpendicular to the stick.
Grilling Over Flames
Grill grates provide a large, flat surface for roasting hot dogs over the open flame similar to cooking on a gas or charcoal grill. The open flames kiss the hot dog exterior, charring them slightly and adding flavor from the type of wood in the fire. Camping supply stores sell grills with folding legs to straddle a campfire, or you can balance a large grill grate over the campfire stones or other containment system. Turn the hot dogs periodically with a large pair of tongs to so they cook evenly. It should take no more than five minutes for them to cook.
Grill baskets combine the benefits of grill roasting and stick roasting. A long handle connects to a rectangular basket with two flat grill panels. Place the hot dogs on one of the panels spaced so heat can circulate along the sides of each hot dog. Close the second panel over the hot dogs and secure the two panels together with the attached clamps. Hold the grill basket over the campfire, flipping every 30 to 60 seconds for about five minutes or until done. This allows you to roast a large number of hot dogs at once without the danger of them sliding off a stick or rolling off the edges of a grill.
Heavy-duty cast iron skillets stand up well to the high heat and open flame of a campfire. Hot dogs roast quickly inside the pans, even developing a char on the exterior. The flavor differs from other roasting methods, though, because the hot dogs are not openly exposed to the flames and smoke. While some adventurous campfire cooks place pans directly in the flames or on the coals, the pan is much easier and safer to remove when placed on a level grill grate. Alternatively, place the pan on a flat rock close to the fire. Roll the hot dogs in the pan frequently for even roasting and to avoid burning.
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