Retro Recipes: Hot Dogie-Burgers, 1963

All photos by Stephanie Butler

Welcome to Retro Recipes! Brought to you from the capable kitchen of Eat Me Daily's Stephanie Butler, each week revisits a preparation from the past that straddles the line between ingenious and absurd. This week: Hot Dogie-Burgers.

Summer is here, and the eternal question is once again raised at the barbecue: hamburger or hot dog? It seems appropriate to try a cookout recipe at this time of year — one that breaks boundaries, unites the masses, and stops other barbecue recipes dead in their tracks. It’s time to break out the big guns: it’s time for Hot Dogie-burgers.

I've seen recipes for hot dogs wrapped in hamburger before, but this version — to me, the definitive one — comes from the 1963 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Barbecues and Picnics cookbook. (Given that this book also contains a recipe for Barbecued Bologna, I think I got off pretty easy.) The extent of my hot dog-wrapping culinary experience is pigs in blankets, so this recipe would involve entering some seriously new territory. I also wasn’t certain that the recipe would work: with nothing to stick the meat to the dog, what's to keep the hamburger from falling off and meeting a hot, charcoaled death?

Meat encased in more meat

I took some comfort in the fact that the recipe calls for an egg, which I hoped that would help to bind the meat and keep everything together. I also dried the dogs off a bit on paper towels before I applied the burger, for better sticking power. The recipe wasn't specific about how much meat to stick on the dogs, or how thick the layer of meat should get, so I just estimated that an even quarter inch of hamburger was all the additional meat-weight that a single frank could take. The recipe also called for soft butter to be rubbed on the wrapped hot dogs, taking the cholesterol level for this recipe from "Mildly Alarming" to "Unsafe for Children, Nursing Mothers, and Those With Compromised Immune Systems." But I had no choice, and on went the butter. Mustard bottle at the ready, I fired up the grill.

Now, I like my burgers medium rare, juicy, and very thick. But here I was cooking what was essentially a thin patty, wrapped around a separate piece of meat with its own cooking needs. In the interest of staying true to the recipe’s intent, I decided that a medium-well burger would be more in line with the times, and also allow for the hot dog (itself, thankfully, pre-cooked) to become fully heated. Turning the hot dogs was a little dicey, but I didn’t lose too much of the hamburger, thanks to that surprisingly helpful butter coating and a respectable pair of tongs.

Trying the dogies

The real test came once my Hot Dogie-burgers were off the grill, in the buns, and being eaten by a pack of ravenous barbecue-goers. While the dogs scored major points in originality, the taste just wasn’t great. The hamburger meat was indeed overcooked, and the salt and smoke of the hot dog overpowered the flavors of everything else. Matters were much improved after adding a supermarket aisle's worth of condiments: the only glowing praise for the dog burgers came from a friend who loaded hers down with guacamole.

While I had high hopes for this hybrid of the two barbecue staples, I'm sad to say that at the end of the day, I’m not a fan of this recipe, at least not without some tweaking (and a fair amount of pre-dogie drinks beforehand). More salt and more flavor — maybe a banging homemade relish — might make me more inclined to save the dog/burger combo from Retro Recipe oblivion. As it stands, though, I’m tempted to hold on to my hamburger love, and tell these little Dogies to git along.

Recipe: Hot Dogie-burgers

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: Barbecues and Picnics, 1963

1 pound ground hamburger
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon HP sauce
6 frankfurters
soft butter

Combine the first four ingredients. Encase the hot dogs in hamburger mixture, and rub with soft butter. Place on hot grill and cook until heated through. Serves 6.

–Stephanie Butler

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