Hot Dogs a la Lum’s

I’ve mentioned Lum’s before, a casual restaurant chain in a number of states from the 1960s until early ’80s. I used to patronize the location in Plattsburgh, N.Y. some 40 years ago (gulp).

I’ve amassed references to Lum’s history and may revisit the story, as there are many details of interest. For now, the sketch at Wikipedia should suffice. At its peak the corporate office had some good money and technical resources behind it, but success eluded, finally, at national level.

By the mid-80s the Lum’s chain was no more, but individual restaurants carried on here and there (see the account linked), the last apparently in Bellevue, WA.

I mentioned earlier the Ollieburger, a Lum’s staple. The name derived from an Oliver in New York who sold the recipe to the KFC man, this is one of the points to revisit.

There was also Lum’s famous hot dog. It was billed as steamed, but really simmered, it seems – in beer. In fact, the dish stretches back to Lum’s origins as a hot dog emporium in the south Florida of the 1950s.

I’ve tried to cook hot dogs in beer before but never had clear success. Beer et Seq of course pours in the beer with fervour, usually of tongue-stripping qualities (the hops). The results were well, bitter and unbalanced.

In researching Lum’s history I found what purports to be the original recipe for its hot dogs in beer. In the website Talk of the Villages seven years ago, “Senior Citizen” contributed a recipe he dubbed authentic.

In the Parafu site in 2018, the writer of that name repeated the same recipe, with photos and other details that add good interest.

So I followed these recipes. It’s a blend of beer and water (1:2), caraway seed, powdered garlic, sugar, and sliced onion, simmered with the dogs for 15 minutes.

Cooking hot dogs for decades, I’ve found you need that quarter of an hour when simmering in liquid. Less than that, the dogs are not quite heated through, or in the right way. More, they can swell too much.

Senior Citizen knew the original dish in Florida and states that either a sauerkraut or chili topping was offered. The sauerkraut was apparently doused with sherry, and I can see this being really good.

I didn’t have any of these garnishes  – I’ve got a Bual* somewhere, hmm, must remember that for this dish. I used simply ballpark mustard and relish.

Superb! Best hot hog ever. The dogs will be of your choice. I had chicken-based ones on hand that proved excellent, and not too heavy. (I had two).

The onion definitely gave a flavour, and the beer, only a faint bitterness due to being diluted. I used Kozel, the Czech beer. It’s hard to say how the other seasonings impacted the taste. I couldn’t pick them out really, but a good recipe can be like that, the result just tastes comme il faut.

En dépit de mon français, Escoffier, it’s not. But good scoff, it is!


*Madeira, not sherry, but that would work well too, surely.


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