Graduation, Fathers’ Day, summer, the new Gophers’ stadium: Surely, you can find a reason to plunk down $12.99, plus shipping, for your very own cast iron Gophers Grill Topper, which, after having been heated on the grill, will sear the word GOPHERS onto your hot dog. The Grill Topper works best on hot dogs, due to their light skins, but we also successfully seared GOPHERS into Tofurky kielbasa and Kramarczuk‘s lean turkey wild rice sausage ($6.99/lb.) Though the Grill Topper is designed specifically for hot dogs, we couldn’t stop there. Instead, we seared a three-course GOPHERS meal.
The first course was a no-brainer.
Wedges of summer squash, seared and served with a dollop of homemade pesto, were more delicious than the photo lets on. This is summer on a plate. We tried to sear an ear of corn, with no success.
Bananas aren’t local and they defy branding, but if you slice them in half lengthwise and brush with honey before Grill Toppering them, they caramelize nicely. Drizzle with your favorite River Chocolate fudge sauce for a simple Grill Topper dessert.
Get wacky with mustard. Ironically, not Gulden’s.
The Grill Topper, available for purchase online
We loved the “HD” hot dog version of the Grill Topper, which works best with hot dogs or pale sausages. We also had fun, and good success, with the burger version, which sears a block M onto your hamburger. If you plan on cooking for a crowd, you might consider model 1311, which brands multiple burgers at once. Otherwise, you might find it frustrating to wait for the Grill Topper to re-heat between burgers. We wish they’d make a “multiple” version of the “HD,” as it does take awhile for the Grill Topper to get hot enough, again, to sear a second hot dog. If you rush it, you won’t get a good sear. If you’re really committed to searing a lot of hot dogs, you could buy several Grill Toppers and line them up.
Not a Gopher? Other Midwest teams available: Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska.
Kramarczuk’s (deli-case pictured below)
215 East Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Fantastic house-made “fine ground” Viennese style pork wieners, $5.99/lb. The lean turkey wild rice sausage we bought was a special, and not part of their regular offerings. Because it was very lean, perhaps too lean for grilling, Kramarczuk’s continues to experiment with the recipe for this sausage.
Don’t forget to buy sausage buns, 40 cents a piece, baked in house. (Their cream cheese kolaches are wonderful, though, that doesn’t have anything to do with grilling, unless you nibble on one while waiting for your grill to heat up. The Grill Topper needs to be very hot to get a good sear.)
Widmer’s Super Market
1936 St Clair Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105
Widmer’s old-fashioned hot dogs (combination of pork and beef) are made for them by Midwest Pride Meats. These dogs have a nice snap. Widmer’s also carries PJ Murphy Bakery’s fresh hot dog buns, $1.59 for six.
Von Hanson’s Meats
Numerous locations around the Metro area
Von Hanson’s carries Ambassador brand skin-on hot dogs (combination of beef plus pork), my husband’s favorite since childhood, $5.99/lb.
St. Joseph Meat Market
26 1st Ave. NW
St. Joseph, MN
Known for their 140 brat recipes (wild rice and cheese brats, taco brats, pizza brats, sloppy Joe brats, funeral hot dish brats…) including some State Fair prize winners, St. Joseph’s Meat Market is a must-do if you’re a brat lover and passing through St. Joseph. Bring your cooler.
8601 Main Ave.
Clear Lake, MN 55319
McDonald’s is best known for their jerky, but their sausages are house-made, too! Bring your cooler.