Hot Dogs a la Lum’s

Lum’s was a chain of casual restaurants in the United States in the 1960s, until the early 80s. I patronized one in Plattsburgh, New York some 40 years ago.

I’ve collected references to Lum’s, and may revisit its arc, as there are many points of interest. This essay at Wikipedia does the basic history well. It includes as well an evocative, early image of Lum’s in Florida.

At its peak the corporate office had good money and technical resources behind it. Success eluded at national level for some reason. By the mid-80s Lum’s as a chain was no more, but individual restaurants carried on here and there, the last apparently 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 method.

And then there was Lum’s famous hot dog. It was billed as steamed in beer but was more simmered I think. The dish stretched back to Lum’s origins as a curb-side hot dog 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, well, bitter, and unbalanced.

In researching Lum’s history I found what purports to be the original hot dog recipe. In 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 appears, 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 that quarter hour is needed, for boiling that is. Less time, the dogs are not quite heated through. More, they swell too much.

Senior Citizen knew the original dish in Florida and stated it came with a sauerkraut or chili topping. The kraut was doused with sherry, which I can see being really good.

I didn’t have kraut or chili, so a zip of alcohol was moot. I’ve got a Bual* somewhere, and must remember it when I get the sauerkraut.

For my current try, I used just ballpark mustard and relish. It worked just fine! In fact: best hot hog ever.

The type of hot dog will be of your choice. I happened to have chicken-based ones which proved excellent. And not heavy – I had two, the acid test.

The onion definitely gave a flavour. The beer imparted only a faint bitterness due to being diluted. I used Kozel, a Czech beer, but almost any type will do.

It’s hard to say how the other seasonings affected the taste. I couldn’t pick any out but a good recipe can work this way, where the result is savoury and “comme il fault” .

Escoffier, it’s not. But good scoff, it is.


*Madeira, not sherry, but it should work well too.


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