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The first Ben Folds Five album is one of those “holy fuck” releases one rarely sees these days. Fresh and unique for the time, yet with its influences clearly on display. It’s Elton John and Billy Joel piano stories filtered through the ’90s college town attitude of Chapel Hill, NC. The song themes are immediately recognizable to music fans of a certain age. While there are some stellar songs in later BFF albums, this debut is their best and perhaps one of the best piano-driven pop trio albums in music history.
“Underground” is a particular favorite. In just over 4 minutes, Ben Folds is able to perfectly distill both the humor and angst of being a new wave high schooler or college kid in the ’80s. It’s equal parts snarky commentary and joyous celebration of the mosh pit/nose ring/industrial generation wrapped in a happy jangle-pop tune. It’s for no other reason than my love of this song and Ben Fold Five coming from North Carolina that this dog is called “The Underground”.
This is technically a Carolina Slaw Dog with a few Yankee modifications. By tradition, a slaw dog is topped with beef chili, creamy Southern-style coleslaw, and yellow mustard. I stuck with the yellow mustard because I honestly believe it’s the best hot dog mustard. I kept the slaw in the Southern creamy mayo-based family but kicked it up a bit with pickled jalapenos. I went through a couple of chili choices from a simple ground beef chili to black bean vegetarian before deciding to use some of the Double Down Chili I had in the fridge. It may sound odd to put chicken chili on a beef hot dog, but it works pretty damn great! Double Down Chili uses a base of Pasilla chiles, strong coffee, and Imperial Stout for a spicy bitter-sweet chili which is balanced nicely by the creamy-sweet-spicy Pickle Slaw. The finished dog is possibly spicier than your usual Carolina Slaw Dog but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
THE UNDERGROUND DOG
All beef hot dog, chili, pickle slaw, yellow mustard
2 all-beef dogs
2 soft hot dog buns
Some form of chili (I recommend Double Down Chili)
Pickle slaw (see recipe below)
Choose your favorite method of cooking your hot dogs – grill, broil or pan fry the hot dogs until brown and slightly crispy. Toast the buns. Spread a bit of yellow mustard on the inside of each bun. Place a hot dog in each bun. Top with a couple of spoonfuls of chili, a generous portion of slaw, and a solid drizzle of yellow mustard. Grab some napkins because it’s about to get messy.
Makes about a quart
10 ounces green cabbage, shredded fine
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 cup chopped Rock Candy Jalapenos (or pickled jalapenos or sweet pickles)
2 tablespoons mayo
2 tablespoons pickle brine
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium bowl, toss cabbage, carrot, and pickled jalapeno together. In a small bowl, combine mayo, pickle juice, sugar, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour dressing slaw mix and toss to coat. Place in an airtight container and let rest in refrigerator at least an hour before using it.