It’s easy to believe hot dogs aren’t precooked when you buy them from the supermarket, because typically, they have to be seared on pans or roasted on grills to make them palatable.
But the truth is, hot dogs are fully cooked commodities right after manufacture, and the quick searing and grilling is done so that they acquire the needed heat to make them enjoyable.
For highly compromised individuals however, the story would be a little bit different. Cooking hotdogs on the stove top until steamy hot would help limit or reduce the chances of getting sick due to a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes.
Below we discuss what listeria is, the illness it can cause, the best practices for handling hot dogs and how to properly reheat a hot dog for a tasty quick meal.
Don’t eat hot dogs raw if you’re compromised
Compromised individuals should never grab a hot dog from the fridge and slide it into a bun for a quick snack.
That’ll be a grave mistake that can cost them a lot, depending on what condition is causing their compromise.
When we talk of compromised individuals, those in the category include:
- Pregnant women
- Aged individuals
- And those with weakened immune systems due to diseases like HIV and AIDS.
These groups of people are at high risk of contracting Listeriosis from consuming refrigerated hot dogs which is a serious disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.
The bacteria is typically found in soil and water, and through these means, it finds its way into the intestinal tract of animals from where it has the potential of spreading into other parts of the animal during processing.
That’s how hot dogs can become agents that carry Listeriosis capable of causing the following side effects
- Severe diseases in newborns or fetus, when a pregnant woman is the one consuming the food.
- Sepsis: when your immune system goes into overdrive in response to an infection.
According to the United States Department Of Agriculture, people who have ingested the bacteria may take upto 21 days to become ill or show any signs of sickness.
The symptoms of Listeriosis infection include fever, backache, headache, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
What about us? The Non-Compromised?
Because Listeriosis can persist and keep surviving even at refrigeration temperatures, and even rapidly at room temperature, it’s recommended that compromised people cook hot dogs until steamy hot prior to eating especially when the hot dogs are out for more than 2 hours in really hot weather.
And as for the category of individuals that are healthy, sickness due to Listeria is highly uncommon according to the USDA.
Ingestion of a hot dog infested with listeria may still occur but the population in this category can still show no signs of sickness because their immune system might have dealt well with the invading bacteria.
How To Heat A Hot Dog
Many ways exist to fully enjoy your hot dogs. Below we take a look at the most promising ways to heat up a hot dog.
Low and slow on grill
When grilling, the primary problem is that the hot dogs can burst due to steam build up.
But putting piercings on hot dogs is a big no for me (because it leaks juice and makes any hot dog dry and less flavorful) and I know it is for you too, so how can we go about grilling without bristing the hot dogs open?
We use the indirect cooking method. We never place the hotdogs over a burning charcoal or heating elements, or flame, rather, we heat up one side to low or medium low and then place the hot dogs on the opposite side to cook.
This method is less harsh and won’t lead to fast build up of pressure in the hot dogs that can cause them to burst open.
Grill hot dogs until steaming or fully heated through, then place them at angles over the area with the direct heat to print some attractive grill marks. This also adds a crispy layer to the hot dogs.
Sear on pan
Just tossing hot dogs on the skillet or griddle will mostly sear them on the outside and print grill marks on them.
But that’s about it. The inside wouldn’t be as heated thoroughly, and some listeria may still be singing survival songs in there.
So to fully make sure your hotdogs are cooked thoroughly, bring a half inch deep water to a boil on the skillet and put the hot dogs in there. Cook on all sides until hot dogs turn brown and are steamy hot.
You can also bake hot dogs.
First, preheat the oven to 350 F, then place hot dogs on a pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the hot dogs are steamy hot. You can broil them to make them crispy on the outside.
Boiling hot dogs in plain water can dilute their flavor, and cooking them in other fluids like herb water can also infuse some kind of flavor, bear that at the back of your mind when proceeding with this method.
To boil hot dogs, bring water to a boil and place hot dogs inside. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until heated through and drain.
Safe practices for handling hot dogs
- Package hot dogs well to prevent juice from them dripping on other items in the fridge.
- Do not eat raw hot dogs.
- Keep unopened hot dogs only for 2 weeks at refrigeration temperatures.
- For opened hot dogs, do not keep for more than one week.
- Freeze unopened hot dogs for up to 4 months
- Always wash your hands when handling hot dogs and after handling them to avoid any possible chances of cross contamination.
While hot dogs can be eaten uncooked, it’s best advised to cook them thoroughly before eating to avoid listeriosis, especially for compromised people such as pregnant women, children, the sick and also elderly persons.
To cook hot dogs, you can either choose grilling, boiling, roasting or searing on the pan, and whichever method you end up going with, be rest assured you’ll love the final results.