One of the things that I love about El Salchichero, the sustainable craft butcher on the Westside of Santa Cruz, is that while they take what they do very seriously, they don’t take themselves too seriously. So while customers who visit their Ingalls Street shop will find exquisite cuts, charcuterie and seasonal sausages, they’ll also discover expertly crafted products that are a little more low brow.
Case in point: El Salchichero makes a killer corn dog. They started making them for Swift Street Courtyard neighbor Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing eight years ago when owner Emily Thomas wanted something to serve her guests after the kitchen at Kelly’s Bakery closed. Far more tasty than their county fair counterpart, I have eaten more of these delicious dogs—served hot from the toaster oven with ketchup and mustard and accompanied by a pint or two of organic ale—than I care to disclose.
The mastermind behind the corndog is owner Chris LaVeque’s mom, Marge Clemens. A skilled baker and cook whom LaVeques credits as his culinary inspiration, Clemens had never eaten a corn dog before embarking on her quest to perfect the recipe. Without experience to draw from, she consulted many recipes before ultimately deciding to go with her gut and keep the flavors simple while using the best ingredients she could. “I know what I would like when I eat a corn dog, so that’s how I developed it,” says Clemens.
For the corndogs, LaVeque created a pork hot dog with a simple spice profile, which Clemens dips in her buttermilk cornbread batter infused with spicy bacon fat before frying in lard. “We didn’t want anything to overpower the ‘corndog experience,’ if you will,” says LaVeque. “The quality of the ingredients shines through when you bite in. You can taste the corn, you can taste the buttermilk, the pork fat, the sausage. It’s very straightforward. There’s no weird shit in there.”
Clemens also creates El Salchichero’s hand pies, pasties, sauces and mustards. In everything she cooks, she says she strives to be simple and straightforward with her flavor profiles, “so that you enjoy what you’re eating, and you want to eat another one.”
El Salchichero, 402 Ingalls St., Ste 5, Santa Cruz. 423.6328. elsalchichero.com.