This is my Italian take on a chili dog. It's a great entertaining dish because guests can add their own toppings and use as little or as much as they want. The marinated peppers, creamy burrata and hearty ragu turn these dogs into a truly satisfying meal.
Technique tip: If you don't want to finely chop the veggies by hand, you can always use a food processor to chop it as small as the ground meat. You want to avoid chunky veggies in your meat, and by making them super small, they'll melt perfectly into the ragu.
Swap option: If you don't feel like making the marinated peppers, you can buy a sweet, tart pepper like a peppadew pepper. Also, for the Bolognese, you can use any type of meat: all beef, mix of pork, veal, beef, etc. or you can always buy your favorite ragu sauce or use leftover spaghetti sauce if your time is limited.
Marinated Sweet and Hot Peppers (makes about 2 cups)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seed, toasted and crushed
- 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
- 4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound baby sweet peppers, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
- 3 hot, long finger peppers or Fresno chiles, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch rings
- 2 tablespoons chopped oregano
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
Bolognese Ragu (makes about 8 cups)
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 ounces pancetta or bacon, thinly sliced and chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 3/4 pound ground pork shoulder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup dry red wine
- One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 piece Parmigiano Reggiano rind (optional)
- 1½ cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as rosemary, thyme and/or parsley)
- 8 all-beef hot dogs, heated to your preference (either boiled, grilled or griddled)
- 8 hot dog buns, toasted
- 8 ounces burrata cheese
- 2 cups Bolognese ragu (recipe above)
- Marinated sweet and hot peppers (recipe above)
For the marinated sweet and hot peppers:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the fennel seed, garlic, vinegar, salt, black pepper, sugar and olive oil. Stir to combine. Set aside.
2. Preheat a cast-iron pan over medium heat for 5 minutes.
3. Working in batches, place peppers in the pan dry, stir occasionally until the center of the peppers are lightly charred, season with a pinch of salt. About 5 minutes per batch.
4. Add the charred peppers to the mixing bowl with the vinegar mixture. Let the peppers sit and marinate in the bowl for 20 minutes or until cool.
5. Once cooled, add fresh herbs and stir to combine. Serve within 2 hours or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
For the Bolognese:
1. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed saucepot or Dutch oven over low heat.
2. Add olive oil and pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat has rendered, about 3 minutes. Add celery, carrots and onion to the pot, stirring frequently, until soft and lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add ground beef and pork and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Increase heat to medium, stirring to break up the meat, until lightly browned and beginning to sizzle, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Add red wine and let simmer until reduced. Once reduced, add the can of crushed tomatoes and Parmigiano-Reggiano rind, if using. Cover and continue to simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
4. Remove the lid, increase heat to medium, add the milk and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
5. Remove Parm rind and discard. Spoon off any fat from the top of the ragu.
Place the hot dog in the buns, top each with 1/4 cup of hot ragu. Then add a spoonful of burrata and a touch of marinated pepper mixture.