Substitute carrots for hot dogs. No, really

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune

Facts now have alternatives. A fact that makes the solid substrate of reality feel strangely spongy. And not in that winsome, Rene Magritte way. Stare at his painting of a pipe, labeled “This Is Not a Pipe,” and smirk. True that.

The same effect can be conjured on the plate. A carrot, boiled in mustard and mace, grilled and stuffed in a bun, looks much like a hot dog. It tastes much like a hot dog. But it’s not a hot dog. It’s a not dog.

And delicious.

That’s real news for vegetarians, carrot fans and anyone else longing for a final bite of summer fun. Even if fun, in these surreal times, seems a mere illusion.

Not Dogs

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Makes: 8 dogs

8 large carrots

1/4 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons peanut or canola oil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon adobo sauce, see note

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground mace

8 potato hot-dog buns

Mustard, relish and/or other condiments

Shape: Peel carrots; trim to 6-inch lengths, cutting away the skinny portion. If you like, use the peeler to round the two ends, yielding more of a hot-dog shape.

Boil: Settle carrots in a single layer in a saucepan or skillet. Pour in enough water to barely cover carrots. Stir in remaining ingredients (except buns and condiments, obviously). Bring to a boil, lower heat a bit, cover and cook at a low boil, shaking pan now and then, until carrots are tender and water has all but evaporated, about 30 minutes. (Time will vary, depending on thickness of carrots, size of pan and amount of water used.) Uncover during the last couple of minutes, rolling carrots in the syrupy spices. Don’t they look tasty?

Grill: Light a hot grill (or heat a ridged griddle over high heat). Oil lightly. Grill carrots, turning a few times, until nicely tattooed, about 3 minutes. You may want to warm the buns at the same time.

Serve: Settle carrots in buns, add condiments. Munch.

Note: Peel open a can of chipotles in adobo. (Check the Mexican ingredients shelf.) Scoop out some of the sauce. Slide peppers and remaining sauce into a zip-close bag, and freeze for another project.