Have you ever felt frustrated by the overpriced mediocreness of those tubes of biodynamic free range soy which, in the occasion of a barbecue, to which you are invited, being the only vegetarian, you are forced to procure, because you do not just want to be limited to boiled sweetcorn and grilled zucchini. You want to feel the fulness that only the combination of protein and carbs can give you. So you buy them anyway, but still feel like you’re not part of the mob, because obviously you’re missing out on what is the whole point of having a fire: Le meat. Do you? Ha I don’t. Not anymore. I suffered for years my friend, so I do know your pain. However I feel as soon as I started to finally become cool (e.g. joining the carnivores), cautiously, but evermore enthusiastically exploring what that world of meat had to offer, vegetarianism had started to become the new cool. Such a trendsetter I was, way way ahead of my time. What use was it to me now.
I kid you, it’s super helpful. I still predominantly eat vegetarian food. It’s fun, it’s delicious, it’s easy, but it’s also a challenge. And I love challenges. We will never have an equal substitute for meat, because that would defy the point of not eating it, and it would be insulting to the deliciousness that meat has to offer.
What I present you is a delicious alternative to the hot dog. It is jam-packed with umami flavours, a beautiful marriage of sun-dried tomatoes, caramelised mushrooms, a hint of smoked paprika, a dash or red wine and a scattering of parmesan. And when you thought it couldn’t get any better, I sneakily add a handful ground almonds to boost the protein content. These hot dogs aren’t an alternative. They’re their own star. Go forth my vegetarian and non vegetarian friends, and enjoy the tastiness which is the incredible polenta hot dog.
Sun-dried Tomato and Mushroom Polenta Hot Dogs
This makes a bit more than a liter of mixture, which will fill one large baking tray, which can be sliced into 18+ rectangle hot dogs.
A few tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
a drizzle of golden syrup, honey or a sprinkle of sugar
10 button mushrooms, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp smoked paprika
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp soy sauce
100ml red wine
vegetable stock powder
1 cup / 160g fine polenta
50g butter, cubed
1 cup / 100g finely grated parmesan cheese
½ cup / 50g ground almonds
10 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a large fry pan and add the onions. Stir occasionally until starting to turn brown. Add the golden syrup to speed up the caramelisation. Once you’re happy with the colour, add the mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, paprika and black pepper, and cook, stirring, until it starts to smell delicious and the mushrooms seem cooked through. Add the soy sauce, stir a few more times, then take off the heat.
Heat the wine and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the veggie stock powder (up to you how much – you can always add more right at the end), and stir in the polenta. Keep stirring until it goes thick. Remove from the heat and add the butter, cheese and almonds. Once that’s nicely incorporated, add the sun-dried tomatoes and the mushroom mixture. Line a baking tray with baking paper and spread the mixture out evenly. Let it cool out completely, either at room temperature or in the fridge to speed things up, and cut into desired length/shape.
At this stage you can pack a few away into a plastic bag and find a nice spot in the freezer for them. Because really, you’re not going to manage to eat all of them in the next few days.
When you’re ready to finish them off, preheat your oven to 200°C and bake them for 20 minutes or so until browned. Same procedure for the frozen ones, although they might need to be in there for a bit longer. I found they hold their shape best with this method. You can also fry them, but make sure you use enough oil, because they tend to stick. Serve with hot dog – friendly condiments.