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the Twin Cities

BEST HOT DOGS

Minneapolis Farmers' Market

At the Minneapolis Farmers' Market, Easter through November is hot dog season. That's when Dan Tollefson cranks up his griddle and sizzles hot dogs and brats in the crisp morning sun. His booth is on the northwest corner, right where there's room for the long lines that must form once the amazing smells of sizzling pork work their magic on the crowd. Served in soft, plump buns, these hot dogs are nicely charred and crackling, just like those Dan remembers growing up on his dad's farm. While his kids man the grills, Dan hawks his cuts of bacon, smoked hams, pork butts and tenderloin, chops, and ribs, selling from the portable freezer cases. He works the crowd like a master, cajoling, teasing, sharing recipes and cooking tips, and, generally, talking a blue streak. Three of Dan's five kids flipping dogs go to Gustavus (but can't make change as fast as their dad can). Tollefson raises around 1,300 pigs on his farm in Gaylord, Minnesota. His herd is a hearty, plump breed of Duroc that he feeds whole soy to so that the meat has more flavor and healthier fat—it's antibiotic and hormone free, naturally. Dan created his hot dogs and brats to taste like those he remembers eating when growing up on his family's farm. Business is brisk, so don't be put off by the lines, they are swift. For years, Dan sold his pork wholesale, but these days, the Farmers' Market is his only outlet. These hot dogs are only for those who can appreciate real flavor, and what it means to look your farmer in the eye.

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