I’m a bit late with this week’s Blue Rooster update. Some friends from the Midwest came in for a visit, so I’ve been in tour guide/host mode for the last couple of days, dragging them to lighthouses, scavenging for bagels, noshing on the (always fantastic) lobster rolls from Bite Into Maine and jumping aboard the Lucky Catch Lobster Boat tour. (Which, by the way, never stops being a blast. Much of the fun this time around—my third—was in watching my friends’ kids slowly warm up to the idea reaching into a bucket of herring to bait the lobster traps.) Of course, we also strolled through the Old Port, doing our best to evade the ever-growing population of panhandlers and eager petitioners of various causes in pursuit of gelato, cupcakes and various tchotchkes.
Anyway, so here I am with some thoughts on the Shepherd Dog, the Week 5 hot dog in the Blue Rooster Summer Chef Series. This one is notable in that it comes from Matt Brown, Chef at the Good Shepherd Food Bank. If you’re just getting up-to-speed on this whole specialty hot dog thing, a portion of the proceeds from the hot dogs sold as part of the Chef Series are being donated to Good Shepherd. So this one has some special significance.
From a visual standpoint, the Shepherd Dog—which comes topped with baked white beans, balsamic red onion, radicchio and dijon mustard—is the most striking of the bunch, thus far. I love how the vibrant purple radicchio explodes out from the canvas of yellows and browns beneath it.
As someone who doesn’t do well with bitter flavors, radicchio is a tough sell for me. I can’t really tolerate much of it in its uncooked form. A single bite of it will often hang around on my tongue for hours afterward, tainting everything else I eat in its wake. (To that end, let’s consider it the culinary equivalent of a Michael Bay film). But here, mixed with the acidity of the wonderful, wonderful balsamic red onions and the spiciness of the dijon mustard, I really didn’t mind it so much.
The baked white beans (you can see a glimpse of them on the right-hand side of the hot dog in the masthead image) was almost like a bean mash. With the mustard, radicchio and the red onions delivering much more assertive flavors, I think that the idea behind the beans was to offer something texturally distinctive. For me, it worked. And, much like last week’s Mac & Cheese dog, the combination of “franks & beans” brought back childhood memories of summertime picnics and family gatherings.
The Shepherd Dog sells for $6.50 and will be available through Thursday, July 3.