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Posts Tagged ‘coney island’

Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review


Castleberry Hot Dog Chili SauceI’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.

Finished product featured Milwaukee’s Usinger’s Beef/Pork franks in a lamb casing, garden onions, Plochman’s yellow mustard, and buns from Pan O Gold Bakery in St. Cloud, MN.

You can gets some Castleberry’s online from our little store.

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.

Castleberry Hot Dog Chili Sauce

Hot Dog Chili Sauce Review


The Varsity Reviews – Atlanta, GA


The Varsity AtlantaAlthough I had heard about it for years, in all the times I have been to , I had never made time to visit the Varsity. I was there last week, and oh, so many years wasted.

For the unwashed, the Varsity is the world’s largest hot dog stand. Covering two acres in downtown , with parking for 600 cars, and seating for 800, the Varsity has been dishing up dogs, burgers, fries, rings, and their famous “Frosted Orange” beverage since 1928 under the watchful eye of Frank Gordy and his descendants.

Initially operating under the name “The Yellow Jacket” Gordy served hot dogs and bottled Coca-Cola (what else in ?) to Georgia Tech students. Not wishing to limit his clientele to one particular school, the name change came shortly thereafter, along with the move to the present location.

When you sidle up to the counter, and hear the famous cry from the clerks: “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” it helps to know the proper retort. There’s much more, but this will get you past the basics of ordering:

  • Hot Dog: Hot dog with chili and mustard
  • Heavy weight: Same as hot dog but with extra chili
  • Naked Dog: Plain hot dog in a bun
  • MK Dog: Hot dog with mustard and ketchup
  • Regular C Dog: Hot dog with chili, mustard and ketchup
  • Red Dog: Ketchup only
  • Yellow Dog: Mustard only
  • Yankee Dog: Same as a yellow dog
  • Walk a Dog (or Steak): Hot dog to go
  • Steak: Hamburger with mustard, ketchup, and pickle
  • Chili Steak: Hamburger with Varsity chili
  • Glorified Steak: Hamburger with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato

There are 5 locations these days . But the original is the place for the complete Varsity experience. Bring the kids, but not much money. A meal at the Varsity is well under five bucks. Unless you order like I do.

The Varsity on Urbanspoon


varsity atlanta reviews


Coney Island Recipe – Hot Dog Sauce


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 above, but not identical.  Each establishment has their own ‘secret ingredient’, I am sure.

Coney Island  Hot Dog Sauce Recipe

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 StoneRidge these days)
  • Buns
  • 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. (An entire day sometimes).


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 Hot Dog Recipe

6 C water, 6 oz tomato paste

Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Spice / herb combination

Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Water, tomato paste, spices boiling


Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Crumble raw beef into ‘soup’



Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Finely diced onions


Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Lunch time!



Coney Island Recipe

Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce Recipe

Greek Coney Island Sauce Recipe

Greek Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce Recipe

StoneRidge Wieners




Thumann’s Natural Casing Beef Hot Dogs


Thumann's Hot DogsI had my cap set on some natural casing hot dogs the other day; after all, I had just received a new shipment of Skyline Chili in the post, and I needed something to slather it on!

Natural casing hot dogs are my favorite, but not America’s – less than 5% of the hot dogs sold in the US coming in casings (sheep intestines, usually).   People that prefer NC dogs like the “snap” one gets when biting in to the dog; an additional plus is the casing locks in flavor and juices.  I enjoy both attributes of this type of wiener.

Being as the masses like the skinless dogs, that’s what you’ll find in most groceries.  I had to hit four stores before scoring my dogs the other day.  Store # 3 usually has Boar’s Head in the deli case, but they were out, so it was on to Sheridan Fruit Market; Sheridan whips up about 30 different kind of sausages on site their meat counter, I figured franks would be among them.

I figured wrong.  But Sheridan also has a separate deli counter, featuring New Jersey’s Thumann line.   They had a pack of weenies just for me.   The Thumann’s natural casing beef wieners are a bit over-sized – six to a package, and retail for just north of $7, a bit spendy for a grocery dog.    But you get what you pay for.

And Thumann’s packs a punch of flavor.  Most of America’s hot dogs are rather bland affairs, I’ve heard people describe them as “basically rolled up bologna,” but Thumann’s follows a more traditional “old world” recipe, and the delicate flavor of the combination of herbs and spices is quite evident, and enjoyable.  The “snap” is great.

Most hot dogs we purchase are pre-cooked, and thus require only reheating at home.  Natural casing dogs require a “gentle” reheating, so as to not split the casing open during the cooking process.   You’ll hear many different methods of doing this, whether it’s boiling water, shutting it off, and letting the dogs take a hot water bath for five minutes;  slow grill;  simmer; steam.    For today, I did low and slow in a skillet.

I like the Skyline “chili”, and I have that word in quotes, because in a fair amount of the country, you’ll see a product like this referred to as “hot dog sauce.”  The Midwest version is usually minced ground beef in a tomato-based sauce, with herbs and spices.  Ohioans like some cinnamon in the mix.   In the Deep South, you’ll find onion-based sauces.

I prefer the Midwestern style, as it was what I was first exposed to, at my all time favorite go-to dog place, Deluxe Coney Island in Duluth.  The Duluth version doesn’t include cinnamon, but today, in Portland, Oregon, at 330 AM in my kitchen, the Skyline Chili was just what the doctor (some doctor, somewhere, certainly not mine!) ordered!

Skyline Chili





Duluth, MN Deluxe Coney Island Pictorial


My brudder sent these today:


coney maker

coney dogs

coney burg

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