Ballpark Food II: Fenway Franks

I mentioned in my last post that hot dogs are the top-selling concession item at Fenway Park in Boston. I suspect that they dominate the menu in ballparks all over the country.
I’m still enough of a kid to love hot dogs, and I have a feeling I’ll never outgrow my fondness for these warm, portable meals.
Fenway Park is pretty specific about what it calls the Fenway Frank. The offical Red Sox hot dog features brown mustard–not yellow!–with a little relish on a New England-style bun. Feel free to vary this recipe by using your own favorite condiments.
I didn’t make relish for this post since the ingredients aren’t yet in season. I did bake hot-dog buns, however, with the help of my mother and sister-in-law. A New England-style hot-dog bun has soft sides. If you’d like your sides more crispy, just place your rising buns a little farther apart.
As you can see from the photo above, my family’s own baseball player is now a convert to home-made hot-dog buns………
Fenway Franks
1 New England-style hot-dog bun (see recipe below)
1 hot dog (Fenway Park serves Kayem franks, which are made in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and steams them. I like to grill them.)
brown mustard and relish (preferably homemade) to taste
Split the bun in the middle. Insert the hot dog into the bun, and cover it with mustard and relish. Makes 1 frank. Be sure to spill mustard and relish all over yourself as you cheer for your favorite team! 

New England Hot Dog Buns (from King Arthur Flour)
King Arthur Flour notes that this dough should be very relaxed so the buns will be soft and tender. When you’re adding the flour, don’t overdo it; just add enough after the first 3 cups to make the bread kneadable and to keep it from sticking to you or the board.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees—slightly warmer than lukewarm but not hot)
1 cup warm milk (ditto)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-3/4 cups flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar and then the yeast in the warm water. Add the milk, the butter, the salt, and 1-1/2 cups of flour to the yeast mixture. Beat vigorously for 2 minutes.
Gradually add more flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.
Knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Place the dough in an oiled bowl. Turn once to coat the entire ball of dough with oil. Cover with a tightly-woven dampened towel and let rise until doubled. King Arthur Flour says this will take about an hour; in my house it took quite a bit longer.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide it into thirds, and divide each of those into thirds again so that you have nine pieces. Roll them into little balls.
Roll the balls into cylinders, 4 1/2-inches long. Flatten the cylinders slightly and place them on a well-seasoned baking sheet 1/2 inch apart so they’ll grow together as they rise.
Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled—an hour or so. Keep an eye on the buns; if they rise too fast, they’ll stick to the towel and make a mess. (Can you tell I’m writing from experience?) If you can find a way to lightly cover the buns with a box or something do that instead to avoid the danger of sticking.
Fifteen minutes before you want to bake your buns, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until they are a nice golden brown.
When the buns are done, remove them from the baking sheet to cool on a wire rack.
Makes 9 buns. This recipe may be doubled.

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8 Responses to “Ballpark Food II: Fenway Franks”

  1. Flaneur says:

    As a staunch Yankees fan I found it a tad difficult to stomach an entire posting devoted to Fenway franks, although I had to marvel that you would actually attempt to replicate a hot dog bun. So much effort – like going decades without a pennant victory. But, the results were quite admirable. [Balance: we have a charming nephew who is alarmingly devoted to the Red Sox, despite living in Appleton, Wisconsin.]

    You mentioned that this was a classic New England bun, and I’m curious… another New England franchise tradition, Howard Johnson’s, produced what is for many of us a signature childhood culinary memory. Their grilled or toasted and buttered buns, with their perfect hotdogs, were the ideal prelude to an ice cream sundae. In the 1950s, when roadside dining was a dicey thing, Howard Johnson’s was a reliable bet for a mid-trip family lunch. Kid in the then would scout the horizon for the cupola on the orange tile roof of the white and turquoise building. When the clamor for hot dogs from me and my friends was deafening, my mother would relent (she was always dubious of any hot dog’s provenance) and go so far as to grill the buns, but somehow, wherever we lived, the buns were not the flat-sided, easily-toasted or grilled buns that made Howard Johnson hot dogs works of art in eyes of a 7-year old.

    I’m pretty certain that Yankees hot dogs are served on Bronx brioche.

  2. Mattenylou says:

    Every single real Fenway Frank I’ve ever had represents a long painful afternoon of sitting thru a game the Red Sox has lost. I’ve never, ever been to a game they won. I think I’ll stick with grilled Fenway Franks in the backyard and hopefuly a winning game on the TV… not sure I’ll attempt making the buns, but they sound yummy!

    Flaneur, I love to read your comments!

  3. Donna says:

    Oooh! Brown mustard! LOVE IT! Darn you Tinky, now I am so craving a dog on a bun! I won’t be happy either until I try making homemade hotdog buns. Nathan’s will be the dog of choice for me.

  4. Flaneur says:

    I’m so glad Donna mentioned Nathan’s! If brown mustard motivated her to make the hot dog buns, she in turn has motivated me to take the N train to Coney Island-Stillwell Avenue!

  5. Flaneur says:

    And Mattenylou, after your flattering comment I have to ask you, “Any interest in a trip to Coney island?” We could have French fries, too. And then check out the Russian food markets at Brighton Beach…

  6. tinkyweisblat says:

    Poor Mattenylou! I hope your next ballpark experience is more pleasant.

    As for the N Train,I wish it were that easy for me, Flaneur (and, yes, I do remember loving Howard Johnson’s as a kid). I agree with you and Donna that Nathan’s makes a fabulous dog. I also like kosher franks (we all need to answer to a higher authority from time to time)………

  7. peg says:

    What company made Howard Johnson’s mustard and relish

  8. tinkyweisblat says:

    Peg, I’m not sure. i konw that there are LOTS of replica recipes for the mustard on the internet, as would guess you have seen. Here’s one, just in case:

    Happy eating!

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