How to Fake a Yocco's Dog

This holiday weekend it was too cold to do anything even remotely garden related. We're talking 3 degrees when we woke up Saturday morning, and the wind chill was like 10 below. We had ice on the inside of our oldest windows! Last time we had extreme temperatures, I offered a Pennsylvania-inspired recipe. That seems like a good semi-annual tradition, so, in honor of the coldest day of the year so far, I present this delicious specimen:


I know you are thinking that this looks like an ordinary, undressed hot dog. Au contraire! That is a replica of Allentown's finest: a Yocco's Dog.

For those of you not born and bred in the Lehigh Valley, Yocco's is "The Hot Dog King," and has been since 1922. It's a totally old-school hot dog place run by the Iacocca family (yes, that Iacocca family), and it's the kind of place where you'd better know what you want when you get to the front of the line and not waste anyone's time asking for ketchup instead of mustard or something weird on your cheesesteak. A Yocco's Dog is, as described on the menu:

A well done hot dog in a steamed roll, with chopped onions, tangy mustard, and Yocco's Chili Sauce.


Now, if you want a Yocco's Dog, you have three choices. You can go to one of the six Allentown-area locations, you can buy Doggie Pac on site and make a dozen at home, or you can fake it. Here's what you need:


Pan fry your hot dog until it is good and brown. You could grill it, but there's no charcoal at a Yocco's. Besides, this recipe is doable when it's 3 degrees out, so throw a pat of butter in a frying pan and get to it.

While that's cooking, finely chop some white onion and put a couple tablespoons' worth in the bun. Add a stripe or two of Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard. Now for the big secret: you don't need Yocco's special chili sauce. Just sprinkle some chili powder in the bun — you can go pretty heavy on it. This will give the taste of the special sauce, and that second stripe of mustard will keep it from being too dry. I promise, you'll be surprised how good this is!

Put your hot dog in the bun over top of all those other ingredients and eat it up. Tastes extra-good with a Yuengling. (You're on your own for that — my only solution here in Massachusetts is to import several cases each time we pass through Pennsylvania.)


Two important notes. First, you will notice in the photo above that the buns I have are technically frankfurter buns--the kind that look like a a specialized piece of Wonder Bread. You will also notice that I have buttered them and grilled them in the pan, the way they used to do with a Friendly Frank back in the day. Neither one of these things is very authentic from a Yocco's perspective. The bun should technically by a regular old hot dog bun, and should actually be steamed so it's good and soft and warm and squished around the hot dog with a piece of wax paper wrapping. Well, if you can make that happen, go for it — it would probably be excellent. I do like the extra bit of crispy, buttery goodness of the grilled bun, though, even if it's not strictly Yocco's style.

Second, in the photo of ingredients, I have "Mexican Style" chili powder. This is not, repeat, NOT what you want. Regular old chill powder is the flavor you need to make this work.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think! If you have suggestions for improvement, let me know.

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