Posts Tagged ‘coney island hot dogs’
Like most places in the country, there are signs of Spring in Louisiana. We don’t really get a “Spring,” per se, tho, do we? One day it’s the last day of our very short winter, and the next morning we’re into the “hot season.” It’s upon us, 90 degree days, and 70 degree nights. Gee, I guess that IS Spring compared to what the temps will be a few months from now.
So I told myself, “Self, what better way to celebrate than to go on a drive across this beautiful state or ours, and grab a hot dog or two on the road.”
I set out for Monroe, a city that had, heretofore, not witnessed my presence. Prior to arriving at my Northern Louisiana destination, I had a wonderful day on the backgrounds of Louisiana, grabbing a burger in Baton Rouge, and making my way up thru the northeastern edge of Acadiana, where the primary crop that they grow is military installations.
I had chosen Monroe for only one reason: to find out why this Louisiana burg of 50,000 had eight dining establishments with the name “Coney Island” as part of their signage. “An influx of Greeks?” I mused. (A preponderance of ‘chili dog parlors’ I have visited in my life seemed to be owned by Greeks). “Some local infatuation with the meal on a bun?” “A shortage of other culinary curiousities?”
It’s an answer that eluded me, prior, during, and after my visit. Seems the fine folks of Monroe may know the secret, but they ain’t talking.
Example: I stopped in a Monroe gas station to ask if the attendant knew where the nearest “Coney Island” was? He didn’t – but explained that he wasn’t from around here. I asked where he was from. “Well, I’m from West Monroe.” So that explained everything. He didn’t get “way over here” very much.
A customer, on the other hand, was very helpful. I asked if he knew where a “Coney Island” restaurant was, and he responded “Are you looking for a crawfish boil?” No, I explained, a hot dog. He was able to supply directions to the Riverside Coney Island, but since his speech patterns quite resembled “Boomhauer” on “King of the Hill,” I found it more by luck, than by instruction.
Upon arriving, I had a revelation about the reason for the crawfish question. As everyone knows, it’s the start of crawfish season in Louisiana, and it seems Monroe-ites are crazy about their crawfish. So crazy, they are willing to pay about four times what we pay in Southern Louisiana. And the hot dog diner was awash with crawfish cravers, they even had built special tables for the occasion, which were round, somewhat resembled giant ashtrays, and had a hole in the center, where the table was perched (somewhat precariously) upon a garbage can where you could dump your shells, plates, napkins, and all. Clever.
The waitress found me, and said “Crawfish, hon?” But she didn’t bat a false eyelash when I said, “No, I came for a coney.” I ordered three, along with a root beer, and drooled in anticipation of what would surely be a nirvana dining experience – after all, why would they have so many Coney shops, if these little puppies weren’t pure “eden on a bun.”.
Yes, folks, get ready ……….. me, who seldom is heard to say a discouraging word……..states that these coneys were nuttin’ special. Nor were they here or at any of the other five places in Monroe.
Riverside Coney Island Review
I love hot dogs. In natural casings, please. The “purer” the better, IMHO. And I love to make them as “coney island style” hot dogs, which have nothing to do with the place Coney Island. A Coney Island hot dog is strictly an upper midwestern thing, popular in Michigan, Ohio, pockets of Texas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. By all accounts,they were invented by a Greek immigrant in Detroit in the early 1900s. BY some peculiarity, many coney island hot dog shops were started by, or are owned by Greek immigrants or their descendants.
While the ingredient recipe varies a little, basically a coney island hot dog is a natural casing wiener in a bun, with yellow mustard, diced onions, and meat sauce. Not ever to be confused with a “chili dog” as coney sauce is not chili.
My own personal coney sauce recipe is a winner – it took me years to perfect. For me, nothing makes a perfect coney, or hot dog any way you choose to cook or dress it – than a quality natural casing frank. They are hard to find, as we natural casing lovers only make up about 5% of the national hot dog buying public!
StoneRidge’s version is perfect, an ideal combination of pork and beef, with no fillers, and the right spices and length of smoking to give it perfect flavor and just the right amount of “snap” when you bite into it. In other words, you want a dog that when you bite IT, it bites right back!
No matter how you choose to cook a natural casing wiener – on the grill, in hot water, on a griddle, low and slow is the key, lest you split the casing open and all the delicious meaty juiciness spills out! You don’t want that.
You can purchase StoneRidge’s exceptional hot dogs online, and pick up some other points and recipes on their Pinterest page! Anyone who purchases online from StoneRidge this month will be automatically entered to buy $50 worth of products! Winner will be notified by email on March 1.
StoneRidge Natural Casing Wieners Review
(Ed. Note: StoneRidge furnished products for me to try)
Local Toledo hot dog legend Tony Packo’s has been around for 70-80 years, and is the birthplace of the “Hungarian Style Hot Dog.” Now with five locations, the business received a lot of publicity as the home town favorite of the TV character “Max Klinger” on the long-run sitcom “MASH.”
Toledo is about halfway between two distinct “coney island hot dog” territories. And all three are distinctly different in flavor and texture. To the north, you find the Detroit style like American Coney, heavy on meat and a beefy taste – in Ohio you have the dueling chains of Skyline and GoldStar, and both of their coney sauces have a ‘sweet’ element in them. Some fans say chocolate, some say cinnamon. They are both good, and you can purchase complete Detroit kits or Skyline ingredients online. And you should. Often.
So Packo’s sells their sauce in little 8 ounce cans (pictured), less than a buck and a half, if I recall, and the promotional material says it is enough for five hot dogs. I think that’s conservative, you could probably schmear the sauce on 8-10 I’ll betcha.
Ingredients include: beef, water, chili spice, textured vegetable protein, sugar, salt, corn starch, and garlic. The distinctive characteristics of Packo’s are 1) the presence of the chili pepper is very evident, as is the sugar. The sauce is sweeter and hotter than the Detroit or Ohio styles.
There is a layer of flavor deep in there that reminds me of say, Hormel Chili. Which isn’t a turn off, just ‘different’ for a coney type sauce. In my experience. Your mileage may vary. Below are pix of the sauce in the can, out of the can, and after heating. Shop online if you can’t find at your grocery. In addition to hot dog sauce, Packo’s sells pickles, noodles, peppers, chili, barbecue sauce, relish and ketchup. And yes, I’d buy this again. Might even stock up.
Tony Packo Hot Dog Sauce Review
Yesterday we brought you the story of how the coney island style hot dog came to America, courtesy of the founders of American Coney Island, in Detroit, Michigan. Today we will tell you the results of using one of their coney kits to fix these wonderfully American treats at home.
First, I have a suggestion for the government of the city of Detroit. We’ve all read about the financial problems you’ve been having. You should have consulted the people of American Coney Island, because they understand MATH! Why do I say this? How often have you shopped for hot dogs and buns at the grocery, got home, opened the packages, and there’s one quantity of hot dogs, and a different quantity of buns. What’s the deal on that?
Not so with the American Coney Island hot dog kit, no-sir-ree! Twelve hot dogs. Twelve buns. GENIUS! Why hasn’t the rest of the industry caught on? Sheeesh.
Open your box from American, and you’ll find a nice package of 12 hot dogs, beef and pork in natural casings, 8 to a pound, that’s a good size for adults; 12 bakery fresh rolls. 16 ounces of American’s coney sauce. And one monster onion.
For those of you who are sensitive, be forewarned I am about to use a four letter word here, in describing the first step in preparing American Coney Island hot dogs at home.
The goods come hard frozen nestled in dry ice, and you’ might be disappointed with the results if you don’t thaw the contents before prepping.
Simmer your dogs in water on a saute pan, if that’s your preferred method, or pan-fry them like you were using a flat top, in the traditional way. Add a cup of water to the sauce and gently heat on the stove top, dice some onion.
- Dog in bun
- Coney sauce on dog
- Mustard drizzle on coney sauce
- Scatter diced onions
Bite it. NOW! Yes? Have three more!
Man oh man, these are good. The frank’s seasoning and flavor is just right, the casing has the perfect snap, the mild sauce is meaty and thick, and the bun as fresh as it had just come from the oven.
My attempt pictured below, and hopefully it’s close to the way Gust used to make them. There’s a guy I wish I had the chance to meet and jaw with. Share a dog or two.
I’m having mine with a Faygo root beer, from another fine Detroit company. (Bon Appetit said in 2009 that Faygo’s root beer is one America’s best). I think I agree.
American Coney Island
As I am, unquestionably, America’s hot dog authority, and everything you read on the internet is true, there is no reason for you to doubt anything you are about to learn in this post. Spoiler alert. We owe coney island style hot dogs to the Greeks, and more specifically to American Coney Island in Detroit, Michigan.
What is a “coney island style” hot dog? Quality natural casing wiener, on an appropriately sized fresh bun, with special meat sauce, yellow mustard, and diced sweet onion. This is what a hot dog is all about. None of that putting an entire garden on a bun for me, like those fancy pants people in Chicago, with their sport peppers and tomatos! (Lest you think I’m picking on the Windy City, I’m agin’ cole slaw on a dog, as well!).
I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, where we had two competing coney island shops. Nothing to compare to the multitudes in the Detroit or Cincinnati areas, but for our small burg, a choice, although as a tot, I couldn’t tell the difference, unless it was the few pennies in price at the time.
No, coney loyalty in my family, if not my town, was decided by my ancestors. Between the two competing outlets, Deluxe Coney Island on West First Street, and Original Coney Island, on East Superior Street, my grandfather preferred Deluxe, often wandering down there after a snit and snort or two at Lofdahl’s bar. So maybe grandpa Paul’s loyalty was simply a geographically based decision – Deluxe was a block west of Lofdahl’s on even terrain; should grandpa have chosen Original, he would have had to return to the office from not only three blocks away, but also having to negotiate a pretty steep hill on his return.After grandad took his turn at Deluxe, it became one of my uncle’s traditions – same habit and timetable as his father, though my uncle’s culinary fascination was bowls of Deluxe’s “chili”, which was actually their coney sauce. Are coney islands “chili dogs?” Although sometimes the phrase is used in marketing coney islands, the two offerings are distinctly different.
My father took his turn on occasion, but skipping the pre-coney beverage time in favor of a daily swim at the YMCA. And in time, my brother and I called Deluxe our lunch (and sometimes the crack of dawn breakfast “six with, to go please”) home. We may have had an additional fondness for the two Greek brothers who owned the joint, they shared the same first names as me and my bro.
My brother and his posse still hit Deluxe on occasion, and when I’m visiting, it’s a sure stop. I love the suckers. Which got me to thinking about the origin of this style of hot dog, as I have hunted them down and consumed massive quantities all over the country, and in a few other countries, all in the name of ‘journalism.’ I’ve sampled the oniony “hot dog sauce” of the south, and witnessed the rivalry between Gold Star and Skyline in Ohio. I’ve made my way around the Detroit shops all in hopes of impressing a woman I was seeing in Ypsilanti for awhile….until I figured out she lived in….Ypsilanti.
So here, folks, is the story of how the coney island style hot dog came to be. Truth.
Thousands of years ago in a remote corner of Greece, in the wee little village of Dara, a relative of Constantine “Gust” Keros, had just finished participating in the early Spring ritual where the children of Dara chased all the mice from the village. The young man was resting, tending his flock, high in the rocky foothills surrounding the village, and was contemplating the distant view of the Aegean. He was sitting beneath an olive tree, having a small nip of Ouzo, and fretting over upcoming family festival preparations. It was a very special occasion, and he wanted to make a big impression on his friends and relatives by preparing a unique dish. He prayed hard for a solution.
All of a sudden, the skies darkened, clouds closed in, lightning flashed, and an apparition appeared before the young lad. It was Dionysus, the Greek god of the wine harvest and of ecstasy. His mouth opened, and in a deafening roar, he said “your prayer is answered, here is a recipe which will cause your guests to moan in ecstasy, and demand you cook this dish over and over again, for generations to enjoy. You, your relatives and descendants, in return for receiving this gift, will accept the mission of spreading this joy worldwide, do you agree?”
The young Greek meekly replied “yes,”, stuffed the recipe into his pocket, and ran off to begin the preparations. The festival was a huge hit, especially the recipe that delivered “the food of the gods”, a uniquely seasoned meat sauce to enhance food or to be served on its own in a bowl.
Centuries passed, and the Keros family kept their promise, spreading the magic meat elixir far and wide, but not around the world, per se, as the rest of the world had yet to be discovered.
As the ages rolled past, in 1903, the Keros family was finally able to start down the path of sharing the wonderful food with the world, when 14 year old “Gust” Keros emigrated to America. Landing at Ellis Island as most European immigrants of the time did, Gus quickly cleared the formalities and headed to shore to experience the wonder of America. One of his first stops? The Coney Island Amusement area, as an American institution as there could ever be. He sampled a hot dog, probably from Feltman’s German Gardens (as Nathan’s wouldn’t come along for another 14 years or so), and it made such an impression on young Gust that he said to himself “someday I will be the king of hot dogs!”
And he set out for Detroit, which had a large Greek immigrant population. He worked whatever jobs he could manage to find, until he saved enough money to purchase and operate a food cart, entering the world of entrerpreneurs a few short years after arriving in America. Prospering, he saved enough to open American Coney Island, in Greektown, downtown Detroit, in 1917, the same year Nathan Handwerker opened his hot dog stand at Coney Island, New York. Gust chose the name to have a very distinct connection with his new beloved homeland.
Gust sold hot dogs and other quick lunches, including bowls of the family secret recipe elixir, which had passed from the Greek gods to Gust’s ancestors and down to family members through the ages. One especially cold Detroit winter day, a customer asked Gust if he might ladle some of the special sauce on his hot dog. Gust added a schmear of yellow mustard, and some chopped sweet onion. And voila! (opa!) the Detroit coney island style hot dog had made it to America, and the family promise to the ancient Greek gods had been fulfilled!
Over the years, many people have tried to imitate the Keros recipe, but they will forever be known as ‘also rans’, no matter their claims. The only place to get a true coney island style hot dog is at the establishment that invented them, American Coney Island in Detroit, Michigan, in the very same location that Gust opened in 1917. Prosperity has enabled them to open a second location in Las Vegas, Nevada. Additional outlets can be found at Ford Field, the Detroit Zoo, and Canton, MI.
In order to fulfill their ancient promise, if either Detroit or Las Vegas are geographically off the beaten path for you, the Keros family makes a complete coney kit that is available to be shipped right to your door. You can even use the kits for some very creative fund-raising for your organization!
As the Keros family was kind enough to send me a kit, I am going to whip up some coneys at my house, and I hope I do an adequate job of remaining faithful to the family preparation method.
Since the beginning of operations, American Coney Island has sourced their special wieners, coney sauce, and buns locally from Detroit suppliers. I could tell you where, but Grace Keros, one of the current family members entrusted with the ancient secret said if I did, she’d make me sit in a tub of coney sauce in the middle of American Coney Island and customers could take turns pelting hot dogs at me. So I would never, ever………………wait a second….. that doesn’t sound so awful……so the secret suppliers are…………
(Tomorrow: the conclusion – cooking up American Coneys from their kit!)
American Coney Island
July is National Hot Dog Month, and the celebration continues with it being National Hot Dog Day, today, July 23, 2010. Here are some fun facts to know and share about our favorite tubular nutrition delivery vehicle!
- During the “hot dog season” (Memorial Day to Labor Day), Americans will consume 7 billion hot dogs, or 818 every single second during the period!
- On the 4th of July alone, we consume 150 million dogs, enough to stretch from DC to LA five times!
- Los Angelenos consume more hot dogs that residents of any other city in the US. Following L.A., are New York, San Antonio, Baltimore/Washington, and Chicago.
- For the year ending January of 2010, more than 730 million packages were sold in grocery stores in the US, and this doesn’t include WalMart, as they do not report sales figures!
- Ballparks in the states sell about 22 million dogs per season.
- To find your nearest hot dog joint, and join in the gustatory celebration today, check out this hot dog finder!
Burgerdogboys’s favorite hot dog in Portland? A tie: Zweigle’s White Hots, available at both Superdog locations, and the fine Chicago Red Hot dog served by the Fried Onion!(P.S., while both of these dogs have “hot” in their name, neither are!)
(Statistics and above Photos from the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council).
Photo below by Kawikamedia, Deluxe Coney Island, Duluth, MN
You won’t see this one on the circuit, folks, the winner downed 10.5 in ten minutes! Good thing Chestnut, Kobiyashi, or the Black Widow weren’t there, they would have put the locals to shame! It was all for a good cause tho, with proceeds ($10) going to support the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center Veterans Memorial Hall.
Photos and reporting by Kawikamedia, the local BDP man on the scene.
For 48 years, Frank Nudo dished out coney island hot dogs, advice, and his opinion on all things sports related, as the owner of Nick’s on SE Hawthorne in Portland. When he sold out and retired two years ago, he vowed never to return, but in the intervening time, so many people have asked for him, the new owner hosted “Frank Nudo Day”, so all of Frank’s old friends could do a meet and greet, catch up. Local Frank and Nick’s fans were lined up at 10:30, waiting for the opening, offering their testaments to the chili dog, including Bill McCormick, the owner of Jake’s Crawfish and McCormick & Schmick’s who said Friday that — “if Maine lobster weren’t available — he’d want his last meal to be a Coney Island hot dog.” (Video from the Oregonian).
|Frank Nudo Day|
“Forced” to lunch at home today, working on a couple of Nathan’s Famous, all beef, skinless. I’d prefer the natural casing ones but they are very hard to find around here. Usual decorations for me, plain old cheap yellow mustard, pickle spear, diced white onion, and celery salt (the latter an homage to Chicago dogs). And I prefer the cheapest buns in the store, if they are over a buck,no thanks! It’s been a long time since I have ground and stuffed my own @ home, maybe I’ll find some casings and that will be a weekend project.