If you’re like us, you’re probably thinking that the standard hot dog toppings have gotten a bit boring. Mustard and sauerkraut aren’t bringing much to the party any more, ketchup will earn you dirty looks from the hot dog purists, neon green relish is just weird, and chili and cheese is a recipe for some serious heartburn. Well fear not, hot dog lover, because your cookout just got a lot more exciting: meet chow chow.
Chow chow is part slaw, part pickle relish, part condiment, part side dish. It’s tangy, sweet, a little spicy, crunchy, and it pairs well with just about any savory food, especially hot dogs. It’s popular in parts of the American South, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Appalachia, and is made by combining a whole lot of different vegetables (usually with a cabbage or green tomato base), like onions, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus, tomatoes, and peas in a mild pickle. The mixture is served cold, and some variations include condiments like ketchup and mustard. It might sound a little weird, but trust us, just try it. It adds texture, sweetness, a little acidity to cut through the richness, and a whole lot of flavor to your dog, and all your guests will be trying it on theirs and praising your culinary wisdom.
There are several places online where you can purchase a bottle of the authentic specimen; we’re fans of the spicy, cabbage-based one served at Alabama barbecue chain Full Moon BBQ. Plus, Tennessee-based The Old Mill sells 11 varieties, and Amana General Store’s chow chow is about as classic as it gets. So order a bottle from one of the above sites, and while you’re at it, check out our ranking of the 75 best hot dogs in America, as well as the healthiest and unhealthiest store-bought hot dogs.