Why Didn’t Burger King Start Selling Hot Dogs Years Ago?

Major news broke this week with the announcement by Burger King that it would start selling hot dogs in its restaurants, but I can’t help but think that what is really newsworthy is that Burger King hasn’t always sold hot dogs. They already cook their burgers on a flame grill that can cook hot dogs just as easily without any modification, and the segment of society that eats fast food hamburgers is pretty much the same segment of society that eats hot dogs, yet for some reason many in the media are calling this a bold move. A bold move would be if a sushi bar had introduced hot dogs; this is a long overdue move.

Outside of the large scale chains like McDonalds, Wendy’s, and Burger King, most of the small, independent burger joints across North America have always served hot dogs. When people invite friends over for a backyard BBQ they generally throw burgers and hot dogs on the grill. Surely some Burger King executives must have been invited a BBQ at some point their lives?

Some have questioned whether this is the right move considering the trend toward healthier eating, but that trend may not be quite so pronounced amount the Burger King target market. If their customers have no problem with the Triple Whopper or burgers with onion rings instead of onions, I’m sure they won’t be too troubled with the addition of hot dogs to the menu.

Pictures of Six Year Old McDonald’s Mean Nothing

Every so often a picture shows up on social media of some McDonald’s food that has been left out for months or years without going mouldy or rotting and people use it as some sort of proof that there is some highly toxic preservatives that prevent any mold or bacteria from growing. There are plenty of reasons why you should not eat too frequently at fast food places like McDonald’s, but a picture of a preserved six year old Happy Meal is not one of them.

If you were to take an organic potato, peel it, cut it into little batonettes the size of McDonald’s French fries, deep fry them in the purest, most organic oil you can find, then sprinkle some kosher salt on them and leave them in a relatively dry place for six years they would look just like the fries you see in all those Facebook photos you’ve seen. Once something is dry it isn’t going to grow mold, and if you drop it in scalding hot oil, you will kill off any bacteria and mold spores which will prevent any growths from starting in the short time it takes for the food to dry out.

Why aren’t there any viral Facebook pictures of dried cranberries that don’t deteriorate after several years? Why don’t people send around pictures of a bowl of rice that looks exactly the same as it did 50 years ago? Why would anyone expect a dried piece of potato to be any different than a dried piece of rice? Nobody is appalled by homemade beef jerky will last for years in your office just like McNuggets, but it is much the same thing; it’s dried meat with.

I actually care about preparing healthy food for myself and for my two young children. I think that everyone should try to eat a little healthier and make sure their children are eating healthier food, but the way to do that is by disseminating objective facts and data, not by scaring people with misleading, attention grabbing pictures.

You Don’t Need a Big Deep Freezer

The worst thing that any home cook can do is to buy a great big deep freeze. Deep freezes are like garages; no matter how big it is it will always end up full of stuff, and unfortunately, that prime rib roast is not going to age nearly as well in your freezer as the skis and bike in your garage. I lived most of my adult life without a deep freeze, though now that I have kids I’m glad that I eventually bought a small one.

Around Christmas I will usually have turkey and a few appetizers in there and in the summer I will have a few boxes of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches. Ice cream and popsicles keep really well in a freezer for long periods of time, but if you were to look inside the typical deep freeze you will see that it’s full of steaks, roasts, and fish. Meat and fish do not handle being frozen for extended periods of time nearly as well as ice cream.

I have stored some roasts in the freezer myself. I would see a fantastic special at the grocery store and pick up two roasts; one to cook right away and the other to freeze for another time. What I found was that before I got around to using the roast in my freezer there would be another sale so rather than thawing the frozen roast I would just buy another fresh one. It turns out grocery stores have sales on different cuts of beef quite frequently.

The only reason you should have a giant freezer full of meat is if you are in the business of breaking into butcher shops. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of steaks and some leftover chilli in a freezer, but it makes no sense to stock up on frozen meat. There will always be some sort of sale at the grocery store for some sort of dead animal, so why have a month’s worth of frozen meat piled up in your basement freezer?

Even if you love good deals and think meat tastes better after it has been frozen for a couple of years, you need to keep in mind that a single power outage can turn your treasure trove of hoarded frozen meat into a rotting pile of garbage. If you like stockpiling food, you are better off having a bigger pantry than deepfreeze. Rather than stocking up on steaks, you should keep an eye out for sales on things like sugar, flour, rice and canned tomatoes. Those things go on sale too and they generally have a longer expiry date than the person buying them.

Cooking for Picky Eaters

There’s nothing more frustrating for an enthusiastic home cook than cooking for picky eaters. And when I talk about picky eaters, I’m not defining them in the way that an extreme foody like Anthony Bourdain would, who looks with disdain on anyone who wouldn’t try pickled feral cat noses. I am talking about hard core picky eaters, the type who views any spice other than salt or pepper with deep suspicion, who eats only white bread, drinks only light beer, and has only ever ordered the steak at any fancy restaurant he or she has ever visited.

The fact is, these people make up about half of the population, so unless your family and social circle consists entirely of foodies and professional chefs, you will have to cook for these people on a regular basis. You could just say to hell with it and serve shake and back chicken breasts with plain baked or mashed potatoes, or you could find a compromise that will allow both you and your guests to have a satisfying meal.

Rather than talking about what you should cook, it is best to start with what you can’t; nothing too spicy, nothing undercooked or raw, nothing with its head still attached, nothing overly trendy, and nothing foreign other than Italian or Mexican. You are going to have to work off of a base of some of the most commonly used ingredients in your local grocery store, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be creative; if anything it forces you to be more creative.

Throwing a pile of painfully hot or exotic ingredients into a pot does not make you creative. You can actually be just as creative with everyday ingredients as you can with fish sauce and habanero peppers. In any case, many of the finest restaurants in North America serve dishes made almost entirely of local ingredients, so there is no shame in just trying to add a little twist to a traditional meat and potatoes dish.

Your strategy should be to start with safe ingredients, add more flavour than your guests might be used to but not so much that it overwhelms them. If you want to be a good dinner party host than you have to remember you should be focused more on the enjoyment that your guests get from eating the food than the enjoyment you get from preparing it. The ingredients and taste are only one part of the equation; you also need to put some thought on the presentation. You can serve your guests something they’ve eaten a hundred times before but if serve it in a new and visually impressive way it will feel like something new.

If you have the budget for it, beef wellington is perhaps the quintessential fancy dish for picky eaters. It takes some work to prepare but it essentially is just roast beef with mushrooms and puff pastry, so anyone who doesn’t like it doesn’t really belong on anyone’s guest list. You don’t necessarily need to reward every picky eater you invite over with a beef wellington, you should just look at serving something that visually impressive and appealing to the non-foodie.