The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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James Beard's 11 Ways to Grill & Spruce Up Hot Dogs, Plus Recipes for Beard's Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauces

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Frugal Celebrities Recipes

One of the pioneers of early television cooking shows, cookbook author James Beard demonstrated recipes for American home TV viewers in the very first network cooking show, I Love to Eat way back in 1946, a good decade before Julia Child and while TV was still in its infancy.

Born in 1903, Beard was a successful gourmet chef and food authority, with many award-winning and acclaimed cookbooks under his belt, including James Beard's Menu For Entertaining, James Beard's American Cookery, James Beard's New Fish Cookery, Beard on Food, The Fireside Cook Book: A Complete Guide to Fine Cooking for Beginner and Expert, and The James Beard Cookbook. Beard started out with a catering business in New York, followed by lecturing, teaching, and writing books and food articles. The James Beard Foundation was set up in Beard's honor in 2001 to provide scholarships to aspiring food professionals and to publicize and support American culinary traditions, many of which Beard helped create. He once drolly said, "I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon."

Many consider him to be the father of American-style gourmet cooking. Beard died of heart failure in 1985 in New York City at age 81. In an interview shortly before his death, he said, "The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it."

In addition to being called "James Beard," he was surprisingly also "Jim Beard."

As a Christmas gift from my daughter, I received an awesome vintage Beard BBQ cookbook, published in 1958, which has more than 200 outdoor recipes and grilling tips and techniques for vegetables and meats. This is a jewel of a find. I would never have imagined that the world-famous Beard would embrace humble, inexpensive fare such as grilled hot dogs and homemade barbecue sauce, a few select recipes which I've included below.

Perhaps Beard opted for the more informal name 'Jim' for this cookbook's byline so as to appeal more to his target audience. There is a chance that this is an entirely different James/Jim Beard, although that seems unlikely, too much of a stretch for two men during the same era to be well-known American chefs with the same name.

I love this Ektachrome-kitschy 1950s book jacket, photo taken by the United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association -- here's the front of the book:

Frugal Celebrities Recipes, Jim Beard's New Barbecue Cookbook, 1958

Here's the back:

Frugal Celebrities Recipes, Jim Beard's New Barbecue Cookbook, 1958


While this Beard cookbook is quite rare, Amazon has a few copies for sale listed, and they're reasonably priced. Click here for ordering "Jim Beard's New Barbecue Cookbook".


James Beard's 11 Ways to Grill & Spruce Up Hot Dogs, Plus Recipes for Beard's Favorite Homemade Barbecue Sauces

Most Americans think they know all there is to know about cooking frankfurters. They simply grill them in a pan or folding grill (or, heaven forbid, boil them), slap them on a tasteless frankfurter roll, pass the mustard and piccalilli, and that's it. Actually the lowly hot dog is a very versatile animal if properly treated and can be distinctive eating.

First of all, if you'e going to serve them sandwich fashion, don't feel bound to use the standard frankfurter roll. Try instead some tender little finger rolls from your local bakery or, better yet, some small French rolls. You'll find either of these finer in texture and better flavored than the mass-produced standby.

Try some of the following suggestions for sprucing up hot dogs for frugal dinners or backyard BBQ parties:

  1. Cut a deep slit in one side of each frankfurter, insert some sharp Cheddar cheese and wrap the frankfurter with a strip of bacon to hold it together. Fasten with a toothpick, and grill.

  2. Grill whole frankfurters and serve with home-made chili.

  3. Pan-grill thick slices of beefsteak tomatoes, frill frankfurters and serve each one on top of a tomato slice.

  4. Heat frankfurters or knockwurst over hot coals. Cut them into bite-size pieces, insert a toothpick in each one, and serve with a large bowl of hot barbecue sauce for guests to dunk their portions into. This is good as a hot snack with drinks.

  5. For 6 people, take 12 large frankfurters or 6 knockwurst and slice them down the middle. Mash 1/2 pound of liverwurst and combine with 2 tablespoons of grated onion, 1/2 cup of sour cream and a dash of Tabasco. Stuff the frankfurters or knockwurst with this mixture, brush with mustard and roll each two in foil. Cook in the foil on the grill for 12 to 15 minutes, turning them twice during the process.

  6. Grill frankfurters, place on toasted rolls, top with pickle relish and a slice of cheese. Reheat to melt the cheese.

  7. Texas hots: Serve grilled franks on toasted rolls and heap ground meat and chili and chopped raw onion in the sandwich.

  8. Put grilled franks in hot toasted buttered rolls, add some good barbecue sauce and heat.

  9. Top frankfurter sandwiches with the following sauce: Sauté chopped onion in butter until just soft, add tomato sauce, season to taste with salt and pepper, bring to a bubbling boil. Add sour cream to taste, cook until just hot, but not boiling.

  10. French fashion: Spread a French roll with garlic butter to which you have added some chopped chives and parsley, add a grilled frankfurter and a slice of cheese. Wrap the whole thing in a piece of foil and heat until the cheese melts. Have a bowl of hot barbecue sauce for everyone to dunk his [or her] serving in.

  11. Long frankfurter roll: Split a loaf of French bread the long way, butter it with garlic butter and toast lightly. On the bottom half, arrange sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, sliced cucumbers, frankfurters or knockwurst which have been split and grilled, and mayonnaise. Add cheese if you like. Top with the other half of the loaf. Cut through in thick slices the round way. Serve with radishes and green onions.

I strongly urge the use of tongs rather than a fork when working at the grill. Tongs allow you to handle met and vegetable without piercing them as the fork does. I cannot overemphasize the importance of having several heavy-duty units of this type.



Below are a few money-saving recipes from Beard's BBQ cookbook for making your own fresh barbecue sauces. These can be used with the grilled hot dog variations above, or with other meats:

Uncooked Barbecue Sauce

Nothing could be simpler than this sauce. It can be shaken in a cocktail shaker or mixed in an electric blender. Combine the following: 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground or crushed black pepper, or 1/4 cut of finely sliced scallions or green onions, 2 teaspoons of prepared mustard, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 1/3 cup of A-1 or Heinz Beefsteak Sauce and 2 cups of tomato sauce, tomato purée, or strained canned tomatoes. Shake furiously, add a dash of Tabasco if you wish, and taste for seasoning. If it seems a little too sharp, add a touch of brown sugar.

Basic Barbecue Sauce

Here is a basic sauce that you can vary in as many ways as your imagination and taste suggest. Peel and chop 5 to 7 cloves of garlic and press into 2 teaspoons of coarse salt. Add 2 finely chopped onions. Heat 1 cup of olive or peanut oil in a skillet, add the garlic and onions, and let them wilt down and blend thoroughly.

When they are soft, add 1 cup of tomatoes sauce or strained canned tomatoes, 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup of red wine vinegar, and 1/2 cup of brown sugar or honey. Season with 1 teaspoon of rosemary or rosemary seasoning powder, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, 3 tablespoons of chopped green pepper, and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley.

Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning. You may strain it if you wish, or put it in an electric blender to get a smoother mixture. Use this sauce hot or cold with either meat or fish. Baste with it and serve with the finished dish.


Mexican: Add 3 tablespoons of chili powder and a few finely chopped hot chilies to the sauce before cooking. Add a few dashes of Tabasco if you like it extra hot.

Italian: Omit the Worcestershire sauce and the vinegar. Add 1 cup of tomato purée, 1 tablespoon of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried basil, a pinch of oregano, 1 cup of red wine. You may add 1 cup of consommé if you wish.

Californian: Omit the vinegar and sugar. Add 1 cup of red wine, 1/2 cup of orange juice, the grated rind of an orange, the juice of 1 lemon, and 1 cup of finely chopped ripe olives.

Tabasco: Combine cup vinegar, 1 clove of crushed garlic, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 cup of catsup, 1 teaspoon of salt. Combine ingredients and simmer 10 minutes. Brush chicken, spareribs, or other meats with this sauce before broiling and baste with it during cooking, and serve as a sauce with the finished dish.

Pungent Barbecue Sauce

Peel and chop 6 cloves of garlic and sauté them in 1 cup of peanut or olive oil until browned and almost crisp. Add 1 cup of finely chopped onion or shallot and cook until just wilted and soft, but not brown. Add 1 cup of finely chopped green pepper, 1 cup of finely chopped peeled and seeded tomato, and 1 or 2 stalks of celery finely chopped. Season with 1 tablespoon of basil, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, and 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Pour over this 1 cup of red wine, 1 cup of consommeé or 1 cup of water to which you have added 2 bouillon cube,s and 1 tablespoon of vinegar.

Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. Put the sauce through a strainer or blend it in an electric blender. Add 1 cup of tomato purée, 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and simmer again for 10 minutes. The longer this sauce simmers, the better it is. It may be used either hot or cold for basting or serving with meats or fish.

Salsa Fria

This is a famous Mexican sauce which I find can be used for many barbecue dishes. It's simple to make and can easily be added to.

Peel, seed, and chop 2 to 2-1/2 pounds of ripe tomatoes. If you can't get good fresh home-grown tomatoes, use No. 2 1/2 can of solid-pack tomatoes and chop them up. Combine with chopped fresh or dried hot pepper—as much as you think you will like, finely chopped. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of freshly ground or cracked black pepper, 1 large onion finely chopped, a clove of chopped garlic, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Blend well and chill. Serve with grilled food or almost any meat or fish dish.


  • Add finely chopped green pepper.
  • Buy canned plum tomatoes, Italian style, chop and add to the sauce.
  • Add cucumbers, finely chopped.
  • If you like a really hot sauce, add more hot peppers.

Chinese Barbecue Sauce

This simple sauce is powerful and pungent—the best for marinating Chinese barbecue dishes. Mix together 1 cup of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of monosodium glutamate, 2 or 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger or chopped dried ginger and 1/2 cup of sherry. Use it for a marinade and for basting.



Beard, Jim, Jim Beard's New Barbecue Cookbook, Random House, Inc., NY, NY, 1958.
James Beard Foundation, History (
Wikipedia, Beard_James (


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