The Week 2 hot dog in the Blue Rooster Food Co’s Summer Chef series is called the Sloppy Penatzer. It comes to us from Ricky Penatzer of the new’ish Portland Hunt and Alpine Club, an establishment that I’ve yet to visit due to my frenetic work travel schedule.
Our week 2 hot dog embodies one of the trends I was hoping we’d see as part of this 13-week experiment: fun and exciting new twists on some of the classic American mainstays. Perhaps best described as a slightly upscale, impossibly cool cousin to the Detroit-style Coney Dog, the Sloppy Penatzer features your standard Blue Rooster hot dog (though this one is sans bacon, a wise move, since I think it would have gotten lost amidst the other ingredients) dressed with lamb chili, cheese curds and pickled & fried red onions. The description of the hot dog on the Blue Rooster’s specials board also references “green chili” but I’m slightly unsure as to whether is a reference to something like a green chili verde (which seems unlikely, as I saw and tasted none in evidence), or if it simply means that there are green chilis in the lamb chili sauce. (The staff was pretty slammed when I visited—having spent much of the first half of the year in Texas, I was oblivious to the fact that it is Old Port Weekend—so I didn’t want to bother them with too many questions. But I’ll try to seek clarification on this on my next visit.
In terms of both taste and texture, this is one of the best hot dogs I’ve eaten, anywhere. The lamb chili was perfect: mild, yet flavorful and served at a temperature warm enough to register as “hot” but not so hot as to burn the roof of my mouth. The consistency could not have been better… I’m dying to know what the secret is here, as my homemade hot dog chili always seems too runny and watery, no matter what I do to it. But hey, don’t relegate this chili to condiment-only status: this chili is good enough to stand on its own. I’d gladly gobble it up by the bowl, if given the opportunity.
Add to this the cool, springy cheese curds—a true “why didn’t I ever think of that?” detail—and the crispness of those pickled, then deep-fried red onions, and you’ve got quite a little party going on here.
Oh, and lets not forget a quick shout-out to the unheralded hero of this meal (and many others, I’m sure): the hot dog bun. There’s nothing worse than biting into a chili dog, only to have the bun disintegrate on contact with the chili sauce. Thankfully, the buns used at the Blue Rooster are totally up to the task, even as they afford the soft, chewy consistency that one wants in a hot dog bun.
All in all, the Sloppy Penatzer was a fantastic meal, made all the more memorable by the tasty Thai Iced Tea I paired it with (and which has already become an instant favorite). With two holes now residing on my punch card, I’m wondering if it is too early to petition the good folks at the Blue Rooster Food Co. to make some of these hot dogs permanent additions to their menu. The summer is still young, but the Sloppy Penatzer would be at the top of my list.