Saturday, February 12, 2011

Philadelphia's Texas Tommy

     If you are into health food, then just skip over this recipe!  The Texas Tommy is a Philadelphia hot dog specialty.  A Texas Tommy is a cheddar cheese stuffed all beef Vienna style thick hot dog that is bacon wrapped.  A Texas Tommy can be deep fried or baked.  The bacon must be lightly blanched before wrapping the hot dog.
     I was working as an expeditor and garde manger cook at a very popular Philadelphia restaurant and night club the first time that I was asked to prepare Texas Tommys for the evening sandwich special.  I asked the chef, "What is a Texas Tommy?"  He couldn't believe that I did not know what it was.  I was not a Philadelphia native, so I had never heard of a Texas Tommy before.
     I made about 50 Texas Tommys a night, till the Texas Tommy was no longer popular with our clientele.  The Texas Tommy was a good selling sandwich special for a few weeks.  Texas Tommys appealed to the late night crowd at the night club that was located on the first floor of the restaurant building.  The late night bar crowd liked eating snack food while drinking and dancing.
     We were located just outside the city of Philadelphia at the end of the Schuylkill Expressway.  Our clientele consisted of famous Philadelphia professional athletes, local customers and downtown businessmen who were fooling around with their secretaries.  It was a strange mix of people that dined and danced at that restaurant and club.
     The chef wrote a dinner menu that featured many heavily bastardized classic entrees.  The Philadelphia clientele that we had could care less about gourmet food.  They just wanted a lot of food on the plate to be happy.  Average quality food that was served in big portions seemed to be the theme of Philadelphia food back in those days.  Our customers could care less if food was healthy or not.  They just wanted a lot of food on the plate.  I was payed well to cook some very mediocre food at that restaurant.
     I earned a week of paid vacation and I went to Florida.  I came back to find out that I had been laid off from work!  I asked the manager "Why was I laid off when we were so busy?"  I still laugh when looking back on what the manager said.  He told me that the restaurant owner's 25 year old delinquent son, was just let out of prison and the owner wanted to put him to work.  That hit me like a lead brick!
     I talked to one of the cooks a few months after I was laid off about how things were going at the restaurant.  He said the restaurant was falling apart!  The owner's ex con son had no cooking experience and served a lot of bad food to customers.  Word got around that they were serving bad food.  The chef "blew a fuse" while yelling at the owner's delinquent son one night and got fired after the son complained to his dad.  Its funny how a few bad decisions can turn a successful restaurant into a catastrophe.  A year later, that restaurant went out of business.  The gossip of bad food at a restaurant travels fast.  Bad word of mouth travels thirty times faster than good word of mouth in the restaurant industry.  A bad food reputation is a "sure fire" way to go out of business.
     I soon left Philadelphia to start my chef's apprenticeship in Florida.  I did run Texas Tommy hot dogs as a successful lunch special at a few Florida French Cafes.  There is something about a bacon wrapped cheese stuffed hot dog that makes customers forget about maintaining a healthy diet.  Even the French chefs liked the Texas Tommy.  The Texas Tommy is a sinfully delicious temptation!
     Texas Tommy Recipe:
     Heat a saute pan over medium low heat.
     Place 3 or 4 strips of smoked bacon in the pan.
     Slowly render some of the grease out of the bacon and only blanch the bacon.  Do not cook the bacon crispy!  The bacon should still be "white" with no brown color.
     Set the blanched bacon aside.
     Cut a slit from almost end to end on a thick all beef Vienna style hot dog.
     Cut some cheddar cheese to a size that can be stuffed into the slit on the hot dog.  (Refer to the picture above.)
     Place 1 strip of bacon lengthwise over the cheese stuffing.
     Wrap 1 strip of bacon around one end of the hot dog and fasten it with toothpicks to keep it in place.  It may take 2 to 3 strips of blanched bacon to completely wrap the hot dog.  Overlap the bacon as you wrap the hot dog.  Use as many toothpicks as necessary to hold the bacon strips in place.
     Note:  It is very important to be sure that the bacon completely covers the cheese stuffing and that the bacon is wrapped tightly around the hot dog or all the cheese will leak out, when the hot dog is cooked.
     Place the hot dog on a baking pan.  Try to set the Texas Tommy on the pan so the side with the cheese stuffing faces upward.
     Bake the Texas Tommy in a 350º oven till the bacon becomes crispy and it is fully cooked.
     Warm 1 hot dog bun in the oven.
     Remove the Texas Tommy from the oven.
     Hold the Texas Tommy with a dry towel and Carefully pull out all of the toothpicks.
     Mix equal parts of mustard and sweet pickle relish together in a bowl.  (Mustard relish is popular in Philadelphia.  Dijon mustard adds a nice touch!)
     Spread the mustard relish on the hot dog bun.
     Place the Texas Tommy on the bun.
     Set the Texas Tommy on a plate.
     Garnish with pickles and a parsley sprig.
     Delicious!  This is the original authentic way to make a Texas Tommy.  Most modern Philadelphia restaurants have bastardized the Texas Tommy recipe and they simply put bacon strips on a hot dog bun with the hot dog.  Then they pour warm cheese wiz over the hot dog.  That is not a good Texas Tommy!
     Bacon wrapped and cheese stuffed is the original recipe.  I am sure that you can imagine what this hot dog tastes like.  It is the warm melted cheese in the middle of the Texas Tommy that makes this hot dog so appealing.  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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