Archive for the ‘Hot Dogs’ Category
Kawika and the Minnesota posse hit a couple of places in Duluth recently, and were disappointed across the board.
The local Marcus theater has five buck night, and apparently they try and make up for the reduced admission with a giant price on a hot dog combo – $8.75 for a dog and soda. The good news should have been that the franks are high-quality beef weenies from Chicago’s Eisenberg, the bad news (beside the price) was the dogs had been on a roller/heater for so long as to be nearly inedible. Food outlets that use dog rollers should toss product from time to time. Common sense.
Duluthians were so excited about the opening of their first Panera bread store, that they lined up the night before the grand opening. The posse went for sandwiches.
It’s funny, Panera does make so many great breads, and do a lot of good in their communities. But they fall down on the ingredients used in their sandwiches, it’s been my opinion, and the posse came away feeling the same way.
I love coney island style hot dogs, which are not to be confused with chili dogs. Coney islands follow a basic formula of a natural casing wiener, adorned with meat sauce, chopped raw onions, and yellow mustard. There are variations of them around the midwest, usually at shops started by Greek families two or three generations ago. Some of the more famous include American Coney in Detroit, Skyline and Gold Star in Ohio, and of course, Deluxe Coney in my home town of Duluth.
On occasion, I make my own sauce at home, whipping up a batch large enough to consume immediately, and freeze the rest in sandwich bags to take out whenever I have the urge over the succeeding couple of months.
My recipe has been developed and fine tuned over many years, and is similar to the sauces listed about, but not identical. Each establishment has their own ‘secret ingredient’, I am sure.
Coney Island Style Hot Dogs
Ingredients for Sauce:
- 6 C water
- 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
- 4 t chili powder
- 1 t salt
- 1 t allspice
- 1 t garlic powder
- 1 t cinnamon
- 4 t cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 finely diced onions, one for broth, one for assembly later
- 2 pounds 85/15 ground beef
- High quality, natural casing hot dogs (I used Usinger’s)
- Yellow mustard
Bring the water to a boil, and add and stir in the tomato paste. When thoroughly mixed, add the dry spices and herbs. Now here’s the twist, which is different that I usually would have done in the past, but it really works for this. Crumble the beef RAW into the broth, and the onions, and simmer for three hours or until reduced to a thickness that you prefer. You may have to further crumble the beef while cooking with a wooden spoon or potato masher, but chances are the hot water will do the job for you. I usually end up cooking for considerably longer than three hours, reducing my concoction to a thick and meaty sauce.
Steam or griddle fry your dogs, place one on a bun slathered with yellow mustard. Ladle a quantity of chili to your personal preference and dust with diced onion.
Pictorial, step by step:
Coney Island Recipe
Like all pork (and meat in general) products, they have gotten really spendy lately, pushing over $6 a pound. While I have some very specific favorite brands, determined by taste and texture, I am a sucker for sale priced ones, and that’s why I picked up a pack of Eckrich “Li’l Smokies” yesterday. They were half the price of the other brands.
Eckrich is part of John Morrell now, and according to the USDA plant number on the package, these babies were made at the Morrell plant in Cincinnati (pictured below).
How were they? OK, especially at the price. A pork and chicken product (I prefer all beef), they aren’t as flavorful as some brands I prefer, tasting more like cocktail franks, which should be an entirely different recipe than smokies. I’d buy them again tho, at the sale price.
Why the ‘char?’ I prefer sausages with natural casings, and you’ll never see little smokies in a casing. Too expensive, troublesome for mass production I imagine. For me, putting a little char on the baby weenies gives them a texture more again to a casing product. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Lil Smokies Review
“Fry delis” – are a distinctly southern thing, a serving counter of fried on location foods like chicken, catfish, sausage, biscuits and potato wedges, found at gas stations and other outlets below the Mason Dixon line. I explored a few on a previous sojourn when I was comparing chicken fingers and strips in LA, MS, GA, and AL last year.
This trip was no exception, as I grabbed pieces of fish or chicken to nosh on at various locations on this expedition, including some from “Chester Fried“, and ‘Krispy Krunchy“, two inexpensive (to own) franchises stuck into corners of gas station along the way.
Brother’s Food Marts is a local chain New Orleans of mini-marts (New Orleanians are fiercely loyal to local businesses, some chains have never successfully penetrated the market – like 7-Eleven or Starbucks). You’ll find Brooks scattered around the metro, sometimes as stand alone locations, sometimes at gas stations. There’s one in the CBD (Central Business District) a few steps from the both the French Quarter and my hotel base this trip. This one is open 24 hours and their fry deli is amply stocked with fish, chicken, and fries, as a “meal combo” or to be purchased by the piece.
Nothing like being able to get a crispy hunk o’ catfish at 3 AM, I say. Which I did. Later on, down the highway, I hit a Chester’s for some strips, which were lightly breaded and H-U-G-E compared to other chicken places. Tasty. Course if you want something a little lighter, you can always opt for a cup of boiled peanuts, regular or Cajun seasoned!
Brothers Food Marts
I’m a fiend for “little smokies’ as a breakfast meat. Give me enough of them of good quality, and I’ll skip the eggs, toast, and potatoes. You never see them on restaurant menus, though I don’t know why.
My personal preference is for the all beef variety, though I am motivated by price point too, and that’s why I grabbed a package of Eckrich’s yesterday, which were on sale for half the price of the other brands. Like all pork products, the price of smokies has skyrocketed lately, and they easily tip the $ scales at $6 a pound, plus.
Cooked them up this morning and they were ok, especially considering the price. They aren’t as flavorful as some of the other brands, and taste more like “cocktail franks”, which should, and usually are, a totally different product than little smokies.
Why the ‘burnt’ appearance? I am predisposed to prefer sausages with a natural casing, and as far as I know, there are no little smokies with casings. Too difficult and expensive for mass production, I imagine. So the ‘char’, presents a texture that more closely resembles a natural casing sausage. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I’d buy them again at the same price, but at the same price point as other brands, I’d opt for my usual favorites. According to the USDA plant number, these babies are manufactured at John Morrell’s plant in Cincinnati (pictured below).
Eckrich Lil Smokes Review
The Chicago White Sox have expanded their partnership with Comcast and will open the Xfinity Zone in the right field stands for opening day, March 31.
In addition to being able to grab some traditional baseball food and beverages, the Xfinity Zone will be decked out with twelve big screen TVs to see all the action close up, as well as a giant interactive social media wall.
The Xfinity Zone will feature a complete food menu with new items such as the Ultimate Turkey Club and the Supreme Corned Beef, in addition to ballpark classics like hot dogs, sausages, fried mac and cheese bites, the walking taco and the Irish nacho helmet. Fans will be able to enjoy their food with a beverage from a full-service bar in the Xfinity Zone, which will include draft, bottled or can American premium, import and craft beers, including MillerCoors products. The bar also will offer a variety of cocktails, wine and soft drinks. Food and drink service starts when the gates to the ballpark open and concludes in the seventh inning.
Artist’s rendering of the Zone.
white sox stadium
It’s a long day livin’ in Reseda
There’s a freeway runnin’ through the yard
And she’s a bad girl, ’cause she don’t even miss me
She’s a bad girl for breakin’ my heart
In the heart of Reseda, smack dab in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, you’ll find Fab Hot Dogs,two additional locations in the Greater Los Angeles area, bringing the nation’s specialty dogs to SoCal, including a New York style, Chicago dog, and New Jersey’s famous “Ripper.”
In addition to the specialty dogs, you can decorate your own over nearly twenty toppings and condiments. Feelin’ L.A.? Get your sausage bacon-wrapped. A New Mexico kinda day? Pile on the Hatch green chiles.
In addition to the dogs, Fab is one of a few very places you can pick up a burger made with arguably the nation’s finest ground beef, from Pat LaFrieda in New York, flown in fresh daily.
On occasion, they offer third pound “American style Kobe”, Wagyu beef patties, as pictured below, this one topped with delicious Gorgonzola.
Sides available include fries, tots, rings, and variations thereof. The Valley is chock-a-block full of burger and hot dog places, but why not hit the best?
Fab Hot Dogs
I have written about Parkview brand before, the in-house mark for processed meats at the discount grocer Aldi. These hot dogs are produced at a plant in Albert Lea, Minnesota, which was previously owned by Minnesota old-timey brand Schweigert’s, who make the official hot dog of the Minnesota Twins ( nearly 600,000 sold at the park this season). Both the plant, and the current Schweigert’s brand are in the portfolio of Cargill these days.
The dogs come eight to a one pound pack, and the first two ingredients on the package are beef and water. That’s a good thing, with pan shrinkage virtually unnoticeable.
The sausage has a very fine grind, and an extremely mild flavor. At 8/pound, a hearty bun is recommended, perhaps an S. Rosen Poppyseed, or equivalent.
BTW, as pictured here? I put the slices in the weenies prior to cooking, just for effect.
Parkview Beef Wieners Review
From humble beginnings in Champaign, IL, in 1953, Dog n Suds grew to be one of the formidable fast food chains in the early 60s, peaking at over 600 locations in more than 30 states. The restaurant featured drive-up service, coney island style hot dogs, and ‘charco-broiled’ burgers.
A series of events, a couple of sales, and interest in new franchises waned, and shop after shop closed.
Today, the company is rebuilding, with about two dozen outlets, primarily in the Upper Midwest. They’ve licensed their classic root beer formula, which was the original bedrock of their success, to Clover Bottling in Chicago, and Dog n Suds root beer is available in grocery stores in the Midwest.
I haven’t been to one for years….but I’m feeling it’s time for a road trip!
I’ve written quite a bit about coney island style hot dogs, including my version of the origin of the dog, courtesy of American Coney in Detroit; my home town favorite in Duluth, MN, and some other regional versions like Nu-Way in Macon. I’ve found very few ‘make at home’ preparations that I liked, today I picked up a can of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce.
Recipes for ‘coney sauce’ vary wildly around the country, from a pure meat-based sauce, to meat and beans, and in parts of the south, “hot dog sauce” takes the form of a red, watery, heavily onion-flavored topping. There’s a region of Michigan were the primary component is beef hearts; other places I have been actually use ground hot dogs in their concoction.
Castleberry’s is made of beans, beef fat, water, tomato, mustard, salt, and other flavorings and colors. In the can (pictured left) Castleberry’s resembles (to me) refried beans; the smell is reminiscent of vegetable beef soup.
It’s a ‘medium’ consistency, not particularly thin, not particularly thick. The flavor is predominantly “chili-like’, meaning the cumin really comes through. It’s salty, as well, which is unusual for me to notice, as I am an ‘over-salter’.
Would I purchase it again? Possibly. So far, though, my favorite “home-made” sauce comes from the dry packets of one of Cincinnati’s favorites, Skyline.
Castleberry says on their website they are the leading brand of hot dog chili sauce in America. If you can’t find it near you, you can order online.
If you’re a curious person like me, you’ve probably always wondered why there isn’t a mustard museum. There is! The National Mustard Museum is located just outside of Madison, WI. Open seven days.
Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review