The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Grate Buns

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This blog entry is going to be about another use it I found for my flattop grill grate for my gas grill. One of the things that I liked about my grill is it has modular accessories that are made to replace one or more of the grill grates. One of those accessories is a flattop grill grate. I must admit when I first bought the grill, I didn't give the flat top grate much use. But in the last few years I've found many different uses for it. This latest use case is my favorite: Toasting New England style hot dog buns.

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“New England Style Frankfurter Rolls”-These rolls aren’t sold outside of New England and I don’t think hot dogs are called frankfurters outside of New England.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with New England style hot dog buns, let me explain. New England style hot dog buns are referred to as tops split buns. This type of roll is also used commonly around New England for lobster and crab meat rolls. They are baked and cut apart at the sides and then split in between the two sides along the top. This leaves two flat sides that are grate for spreading with melted butter and grilling. Now growing up in Massachusetts, to me they were just hot dog rolls-period. Sure I'd seen the other kind of hot dog rolls, which are called side split rolls, but why would you want to use those when couldn't toast them? In fact in my mind that was the logic behind the side split hotdog rolls. You use those when a grill wasn't available to toast the buns. Nobody told me this, it was just a kids logic. I mean why else would you have that type a roll around? It wasn't until I went to college in the Midwest that I discovered what I thought was a standard hotdog roll, was really a New England only treat. After spending about 10 years in the Midwest, one of the first things I did upon getting back to New England was to grill myself up some hotdogs on new England style hot dog buns.

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The buns have been buttered & are on the griddle for 1 minute per side.

One of the reasons that I did not use the flattop griddle grate until recently, is I have this thing where I like to use the grill when it provides a benefit. In other words if the grill brings something to the table that cooking the food indoors doesn't, then I use the grill. It took me a while to realize some of the advantages to using the flat top grill grate on my outdoor grill. If you're interested I wrote a blog entry on other uses for the flat top griddle, You will find the link at the bottom of this blog. In any event a few weeks ago I decided to use the flat top grill grate on some New England style hot dog rolls. I replaced one of the grill grates with the flat top. I fired the burners under the flattop grill grate to medium low heat and fired up two more burners up to medium heat for grilling the hotdogs. While the grill was heating up, I melted some butter in the microwave and brushed both sides of the hot dog rolls thoroughly with melted butter. Once the grill had warmed up, I grilled the hotdogs for two minutes a side over the standard grill grate using medium heat. I placed the buttered buns on the flattop griddle during the last couple minutes of the cook. I knew if I had the temperature set correctly, they would take about one minute per side. I checked one of the bun after 30 seconds and it was coming along nicely. After one minute I was left with a wonderfully brown and toasted hotdog roll. I flipped them and finished them off for another one minute on the second side.

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Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Two nicely toasted sides.

As you can see New England style hot dog rolls give you two wonderful surfaces for toasting. Honestly it doesn't get better than having hotdogs on toasted New England style hotdog rolls. I can't believe it took me this long to think of using flattop griddle for this purpose. I mean toasted rolls with some nice grill marks are good and all, but they can't beat toasted rolls where the entire surface is browned and toasted. This coming weekend I plan to make hamburgers and I'm going to bake my own rolls and I'm going to toast them on the grill grate as well. I am going to try to avoid slapping myself on the head for not thinking of doing this sooner.

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The King Arthur Flour Company sells a New England style hotdog roll pan, so you can make your own.

So for those of you who have a flattop griddle for use on your outdoor grill: If you haven't thought of toasting your rolls on that griddle, do so right away! Just be sure to keep the temperature low enough and keep a close eye on them. I use about 325 F (160 C) and one minute. If you would like to try the New England style hot dog rolls, but live elsewhere in the country I do have a suggestion. The King Arthur flour company in Vermont sells a hot dog pan for making New England style hot dog rolls. I own the pan myself and I've used the KAF recipe to make homemade New England style hot dog rolls. They are excellent but since the pan makes eight rolls (and only eight rolls) at a time, I don't always use it. When I need small batches of rolls during the week I use store-bought rolls. But I’ve got to tell you they don't compare to the homemade variety. Refer to the link list below for links to King Arthur flour and their hotdog roll pan.
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SOME RELATED LINKS:

  FLAT TOP GRIDDLE GRATE - 2011 Blog Entry about the flat top griddle grate.
  HOT DOG - 2009 Blog Entry about my first attempts baking New England style hotdog rolls.
  CLASSIC NEW ENGLAND STYLE HOT DOG BUN PAN - Link for pan for making your own New England style hotdog rolls.
  HOT DOG BUNS - Link for recipe for New England style hotdog rolls.

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