I was pretty unaware of the German influence embedded in Chilean cuisine until I visited the country. It pretty immediately became apparent though with my first meal of a lomito, where the sandwich I received was piled high with roast pork and sauerkraut along with mayo and tomatoes. Then I found similar toppings adorning many of the completos when I went to sample these ubiquitous hot dogs the following day. The pairings were not always ones I would think of, and that made them all the more interesting to me, but I could only try out a couple in the limited time I had in Santiago, leaving me with a desire to keep the completos coming once I was back at home. One that really piqued my interest was the completo-completo, which included a unique tri-pickle relish called salsa americana on top of the sauerkraut, mayo, and tomatoes combo I was already familiar with.
Salsa americana is a mixture of pickled cucumbers, onions, and carrots. I was going to make life easier for myself and just purchase all three, but when I found both pickled carrots and onions coming in at nearly ten dollars a jar, I decided to make them at home for a fraction of that cost. I was shopping almost a week prior to actually needing the salsa americana, so I had ample time to cut up a few carrots and an onion, cover them in brine, and let them sit for five days in the fridge to fully pickle.
It's pretty well documented on the internet that salsa americana is comprised of these three ingredients, but there's few references to the quantities of each that should be used. So, as a starting point, I just went in with an equal amount of each veggies and gave them a whirl in the food processor until everything was finely and evenly chopped. The resulting condiment tasted good to me, so I made no further adjustments, but I also don't know how closely my recipe matches what you would get in Chile.
The only other prep I needed to do before hitting the grill was to dice up about four roma tomatoes for the required tomato topper. Half a tomato per hot dog may sound like a lot, but completos are piled pretty high with condiments, so I erred on the side of higher quantities in my recipe.
All that was really left to do was to grill the hot dogs. From my limited experience, it seemed like boiled or griddled were the most common cooking methods for the dogs used in completos, but I'm grilling guy and this is a grilling site, so I'm going with what I do best. While doing this might throw this recipe into the realm of non-traditional, I take some comfort in knowing that completos were not a singular thing and varied from shop to shop, so there seems to be no one correct template to follow and I bet there's at least one spot out there using the grill.
I'm also a big fan of grilling my buns, but that definitely was not something done for the completos I had. Still, those store bought buns get a whole lot better when warmed, so while I didn't go for full on toasted buns, I still put them on the grill. I just let them sit over high heat quickly to inject some warmth while keeping the overall squishy bread texture in tact.
I was pretty taken with the most popular of the completos, the Italiano, which is adorned with avocado, mayo, and tomato. It's certainly a topping combo that's easy to wrap you head around, but when I had an Italiano alongside this completo-completo, hands down the completo-completo was the superior hot dog in my mind. A double dose of sour crunch from the salsa americana and sauerkraut delivers a ton of flavor in each bite, but the tomatoes add a good boost of juicy freshness and mayo works better than you might expect with an amplification of rich creaminess that elevates the overall heartiness of an already quite hefty hot dog. Like with so many cultural influences birthed by immigrants, there's a definite German tilt to the completo-completo, but it's also a wholly unique taste that lands it solidly as Chilean food and something totally worth trying out because it's one of those items that needs to be eaten to be fully understood.
- Yield 8 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Cook 5 Minutes
- Total 20 Minutes
- For the Salsa Americana
- 2 medium pickled cucumbers (about 8 ounces)
- 2 medium pickled carrots (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 large pickled onion (about 8 ounces)
- For the Hot Dogs
- 8 all-beef hot dogs
- 8 hot dog buns
- 4 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
- 2 cups sauerkraut
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- To make the salsa americana: Place pickled cucumbers, carrots, and onion in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped. Transfer salsa to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the hot dogs: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place hot dogs on grill and cook until lightly charred and heated throughout, 3-5 minutes.
- Transfer hot dogs to buns and top each with a generous layer of tomatoes, sauerkraut, mayonnaise, and salsa americana. Serve immediately.