An Italian hot dog is usually a dish consisting of a fried hot dog placed inside a piece of pizza bread and then topped with onions, bell peppers, and potatoes that are also fried. Pizza bread, a flat yeast bread that is similar in consistency and texture to the crust of a pizza, is considered an important part of an authentic Italian hot dog. This dish originated in the U.S. state of New Jersey, where it remains very popular. All-beef hot dogs are generally used, and ketchup or mustard may be added. Variations of this recipe may replace the hot dog with sausage, or use a crusty Italian roll instead of the pizza bread.
The type of hot dog used in an Italian hot dog is important. Most restaurants that sell this food item use 100% beef hot dogs with natural casings. The hot dogs are usually fried, either in oil on a stove top, or in a deep fryer. Some variations of the recipe use Italian sausage, but most people consider an authentic Italian hot dog to be made with a beef hot dog.
The use of pizza bread differentiates this dish from other types of hot dogs. Pizza bread is slightly flat, and is bent around the hot dog to hold it and its toppings. The bread is slightly chewy and crunchy, similar to pizza crust. This roll typically absorbs grease from the fried hot dog and toppings, but does not fall apart or become soggy. For the best Italian hot dog, freshly made pizza bread should be used.
Strips of onion and bell peppers are usually fried in butter or oil before being placed on top of the hot dog and bread. In general, enough peppers and onions are use so that the hot dog is fully covered. Fried potatoes are also often a main component of an Itlaian hot dog's topping. There are many variations of potatoes used. Some are thick wedges, while others are potato rounds or thin-sliced potatoes.
Condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, or pickle relish, may be added but many people choose to eat their Italian hot dog without the addition of any sauces. The Italian hot dog is a regional favorite, and is not as popular outside New Jersey. Variations of this recipe are common, but it is widely agreed by hot dog aficionados that the most authentic Italian hot dogs can only be found in New Jersey.