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Actual Pro Tips to Help You Build the Absolute Best Chicago Hot Dog

Mike Payne of Byron’s gives us the three key elements that make up the perfect Chicago-style frank.

Photo: Emily Osborne

For many in this city, Byron’s represents the ideal of a Chicago-style frank — a beacon of red-hot excellence. Just ask the Obamas, who called on Byron’s owner, Mike Payne, when they wanted to serve dogs at a White House picnic. Ahead of Chicago Hot Dog Fest, August 10 to 12, outside the Chicago History Museum, Payne breaks down three key elements.

Forget the grill

“An authentic Chicago dog is steamed — the buns too. When you char a dog on a charcoal grill, you get that black carbon buildup on the outside, and that hides the natural flavor.”

Relish the right relish

“We’ve been using Vienna Beef’s Chicago Style Relish for 43 years. It’s dyed a color called ‘cosmic green,’ and it’s got just the perfect amount of sweetness.”

Always be chunking

“Tomatoes should be cored and halved before they’re sliced. We slice pickles too; most places do a spear, but those can be hard to eat without it coming away in your mouth.”

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