This smoked, seasoned, precooked sausagealso known as hot dog, wiener and frankis America's favorite. Frankfurters can be made from beef, pork, veal, chicken or turkey. They may have casings or not and can contain up to 30 percent fat and 10 percent added water. They range in size from the tiny "cocktail frank" to the famous foot-long giants. The most common size is about 6 inches long. Frankfurters labeled "beef" or "all-beef" must, by law, contain only beef; fillers like soybean protein and dry milk solids are forbidden. Kosher frankfurters are all-beef sausages, usually liberally seasoned with garlic. Those labeled "meat" can't contain fillers either, but can be made with a combination of pork and beef, typically 40 percent pork and 60 percent beef. Sausages simply labeled "frankfurters" can contain up to 3½ percent fillers and are usually made from a combination of meats. Almost all frankfurters contain sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, chemical salts that are reported to be carcinogenic. To store frankfurters, refrigerate in original package up until the manufacturer's pull date. Although precooked, frankfurters benefit from heating and may be prepared in a variety of ways including grilling, frying, steaming and braising. See also pigs in blankets.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.