Today’s food spotlight is the most famous dish in all of Chile. It is so popular that you can walk 3 blocks in any direction and find it. It also contains 3 of the 5 essential ingredients that I listed last week.

I am talking about the completo.

Completo Italiano
Courtesy of Wikipedia

The completo comes in many different forms, but they all start with a base: the “completo italiano” (shown above). It consists of a hot dog in freshly baked bread slathered in fresh-cut tomatoes, avocado and mayonnaise. They vary in size from a normal hot dog to some that are over a foot and a half (45 cm) in length.

From there you can choose variations depending on the location you choose to dine at. Many include sauerkraut, cheese, salsa americana (kind of like pico de gallo), green salsa, bacon, and other various ingredients. If you would like to see an example of the different types of completo, Dominó, Fuente de Soda has a good visual menu on their website here.

Ketchup, mustard, chile sauce (kind of like tabasco) and extra mayonnaise are always available at the table for condiments as well. If you think that you couldn’t get much more mayo than what is on there, trust me, you can. People add mayo to them all the time. The average cost ranges from $2-4 depending on the type and size you get, and most places have deals for the italiano that come with fries and a drink within the same price range.

Courtesy of MrCortes on Flickr
Courtesy of MrCortes on Flickr

If you aren’t an avocado or mayo fan, you can ask for a “completo simple,” which is without avocado or “sin mayo” if you don’t want the mayonnaise. People will look at you weird and you will confirm your gringo status, but they’ll oblige.

At that point, I don’t see why you would go out for completos. Just eat boring hot dogs at home.

When I first got to Chile as a student, I was skeptical of the completo. There was no way that something with that much mayo could taste good. And, avocado on a hot dog? Get out of town. I wouldn’t try one for a very long time. After I did finally try one, I gave in to the fact that they were delicious, but I still wouldn’t eat them often. This was due to the fact that I would end up with most of it all over my face or strewn about on a plate. It was not an attractive sight.

Learning to eat completos is messy business. Chileans have it down to an art form. They are trained from birth and leave hardly a crumb on the table. I have managed to get to a point where I will eat them in public and not make a huge fool out of myself, but I am not quite to Chilean standard yet.

Nowadays, there is not a week that goes by where I don’t eat at least one of these beauties. Say what you will about “gross” and “unhealthy.” I think they are awesome!  I typically get the italiano and add some ketchup. The avocado, as weird as I thought it was at first, is what really makes the completo so delicious. As I said in an earlier post, the avocado is creamier and richer in flavor here than in the States. You can’t beat the price either. In the States, they charge you the same amount just to get a few measly slices of avocado added to a sandwich. Here, you get a meal.

An old picture of me, but look at that ketchup skill!
An old picture of me, but look at that ketchup skill!

If you want the best completos in Chile, you’ll have to find them yourself. Every Chilean has their completo hangout, where they think they have the best. You have to eat your way around Chile to find yours. If you’re not ready to fly down here, you can also make them at home really easily. We do it all the time! The best way is with fresh, warmed bread and homemade mayonnaise, however, warming up store-bought hot dog buns and Hellman’s mayo does just as well. Here is the simple recipe for completos italianos:

Ingredients:

  • Hot Dogs/Buns
  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • Mayo
  • Other condiments as desired

Instructions:

  • Dice tomatoes
  • Mash avocado until creamy, as if you were going to make guacamole, but don’t add anything to it
  • Put the hot dog in the bun, layer a good amount of tomatoes on one side of the hot dog, and avocado on the other so that it holds the hot dog in place (I do it this way because it makes the least amount of mess).
  • Add mayo, a good, thick layer on top along with any other condiments you may desire.
  • EAT OPEN SIDE UP! With a plate underneath, just for good measure.

I realize that it may not have warranted a recipe with instructions, but you never know!

Courtesy of powerplantop on Flickr
Courtesy of powerplantop on Flickr

What do you think? Are you brave enough to try a Chilean completo?

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