Lum’s was a chain of casual restaurants in the United States in the 1960s, lasting until the early ’80s. I patronized the outlet in Plattsburgh, New York, some 40 years ago.
I’ve collected information on Lum’s, and may revisit its arc, as there are many points of interest. For now, this essay at Wikipedia covers the basic history well. It includes an evocative early photo of Lum’s in Florida.
At its peak the corporate office had some good money behind it, and good technical resources, but success eluded at national level for some reason. By the mid-1980s Lum’s as a chain was no more, but individual restaurants carried on here and there. The last apparently was in Bellevue, Washington.
I mentioned earlier the Ollieburger, a staple of Lum’s menu. It was named for an Oliver in New York who devised the recipe and cooking technique.
And now to the famous Lum’s hot dog. Lum’s billed it as “steamed” in beer, but it was more simmered I think. This humble offering stretched back to Lum’s origins as a curb-side wiener palace in 1950s South Florida.
I had tried cooking hot dogs in beer before but without a clear success. Of course, Beer et Seq pours in the beer with fervour, usually of tongue-stripping qualities (all those hops!). The results were too bitter, and unbalanced.
In researching Lum’s history I found what seems to be the original hot dog recipe. In the website Talk of the Village, some seven years ago, “Senior Citizen” contributed a recipe he dubbed authentic.
In the Parafu site in 2018 the same recipe appeared, with photos and other good details. So I followed their approach.*
It blends beer and water (proportions of 1:2), caraway seed, powdered garlic, sugar, and sliced onion. The mix is simmered with the dogs for 15 minutes.
Having cooked many a hot dog in my time, I’ve found a quarter of an hour is needed, for boiling that is. Less time, the dogs do not heat through thoroughly. More time, they swell too much.
Senior Citizen knew the original dish in Florida and stated it came with a sauerkraut or a chili topping. He said the kraut was doused with sherry, which I can see being really good.
I didn’t have kraut or chili, so a zip of winey alcohol was moot. I’ve got a Bual** somewhere, and must remember it when I get some sauerkraut.
For the current try I used just ballpark mustard and relish. It worked just fine. In fact, best hot dog ever.
The type of hot dog will be your choice. I happened to have chicken-based ones, which proved excellent. And not too heavy – I had two without discomfort, the, um, acid test.
The onion definitely gave a flavour. The beer imparted only faint bitterness due to being diluted. I used Kozel, a Czech beer, but almost any will do, light, dark, etc., I don’t think it matters.
It’s hard to say how the other seasonings affected the taste. I couldn’t pick any one out, but a good recipe can work like that, where the result is savoury and just right.
Escoffier, it’s not. But good scoff, it is.
*[Note added July 20, 2021]. The two links for the claimed Lum’s hot dog recipe appear no longer to work. A reader drew this to my attention. See in the Comments. I suggest there another way to obtain what seems the original recipe.
**Madeira, not sherry, but it should work as well.