Chef Frank's lamb hot dog with pickled red onions and harissa

Chef Frank's Lamb Hot Dogs from Scratch

Chef Frank Proto demonstrates grinding meat, encasing links and pickling his topping for a professional-level hot dog.

Epicurious' 4 Levels series features amateur, advanced and professional chefs preparing some of America's favorite dishes. In the latest episode, ICE chef Frank Proto's pro version of a hot dog calls for lamb shank, pork fat, sheep casing, pickled red onions and fancy French bread.

A good hot dog to me has a nice snap to it," Chef Frank says. "It should be a little garlicky, it should be a little salty, it should have a little smokiness to it."

He likes the gaminess of lamb combined with pork fatback and his own spice blend, grinds his meat blend and then purees the mixture to start emulsion. Chef Frank uses sheep casing and serves his links in ficelle, a French bread with the desired shape, size, density and texture to upgrade the typical hot dog bun. This recipe's secret ingredient is harissa: a North African-Middle Eastern condiment enhanced by tomato paste and chili flake.

On first bite, Chef Frank's evaluation of this ambitious approach to the humble and often nostalgic hot dog: It still tastes familiar. Watch the video to follow his process and get the complete recipe below.


Lamb Hot Dogs

Yields 25 servings


  • 950 grams lamb shank, cleaned and cubed
  • 212 grams pork fatback, cubed
  • 23 grams fine sea salt
  • 10 grams paprika
  • 5 grams granulated garlic
  • 4 grams black pepper
  • 3 grams onion powder
  • 4 grams Insta Cure
  • 5 grams smoked paprika
  • 2 grams Aleppo pepper
  • 1 grams ground cumin
  • 2 grams ground coriander
  • 230 grams crushed ice
  • Sheep casing
  • 2 ficelle


  1. Cube and partially freeze meat and fat. Grind through a fine die. Mix all of the dry seasonings and add to the ground meat. Mix well. Put back into the freezer to chill. Keep all ingredients as cold as possible.
  2. Puree the mixture in two batches in a food processor for 2-3 minutes. Add half of the ice and puree another 5 minutes. The mixture should lighten in color. Stuff into sheep casings and tie the ends.
  3. Poach in simmering water for 5-7 minutes then place in an ice bath.
  4. Grill the hot dogs.
  5. Place on a split piece of ficelle. Top with harissa and pickled red onions (recipes below).
Pickled Red Onions

Yields 1 quart


  • 4 small red onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns


  1. Place sliced onions in a 2-3 quart. Add the salt, sugar, vinegar and water to a saucepot and bring to a boil.
  2. Pour over the onions. Add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Stir, cover tightly and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours.
  3. Chill.

Yields 1 pint


  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, fine dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt


  1. Heat the oil in a sauce pot. Add the garlic and onions and cook on low heat until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add the tomato paste, spice and mix well with a whisk.
  3. Cook on low for about 20-30 minutes. Chill.

Study meat and pro techniques with Chef Frank in ICE's Culinary Arts program.

Submitted by Sonnie Swenston on January 28, 2020 11:49pm

This sounds perfectly delicious! I've always said that if I only had two weeks to live I'd eat all the sausages and all the cheeses. These would absolutely be at the top of my list. 😋

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