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Posts Tagged ‘Hot Dogs’

Skyline Frozen Chili Review

Skyline Chili ReviewI have had a few words to say about the massive coney island or chili dog infatuation that exists in Ohio, particularly between two rival chains, Skyline and Gold Star.  In the past I tried out Skyline’s dry spice packet and found the results ultra satisfactory.   (I think the dry packet is from Skyline, even tho the brand is “Skytime” and the package is labeled “Cincinnati Style Chili.” Some disgruntled family member?)

Today I’m checking out Skyline’s frozen “Original Chili,” which can be microwaved or heated on the stove top.

Ingredients include:  beef, water, tomato paste, yeast, corn starch, spices, salt, onion, garlic, paprika and natural flavors.

The chili is produced at Skyline’s own plant,  (USDA est 1691)  at  4180 Thunderbird Lane, in Fairfield, OH, which according to Google maps, appears to be in the image below.  It’s important to me that a brand has control of its manufacturing, rather than contracting it out to someone else, which is very common today.

You can get the goods at grocers in about a dozen states, or order some of the products direct online.  I’ve ordered the dry mix packages  through Amazon.  24 packages for $37, which includes shipping.  If you want the best results, follow the packet instructions precisely.  The only variation I’ve done is to add more ground beef and simmered longer,  just my preference for a  very meaty, crumbly sauce.

This frozen pack is easy-peasy, five minutes in the microwave and you’re ready for your coney/chili dog.  I love the flavor and the convenience.  The main difference you’ll find between using the dry spice packets and this preparation, is like I previously said, I use more ground beef with the dry mix.  Beef in the frozen version?  Eh, not so much.  Maybe less than 10% by volume?  More reminiscent of the “hot dog sauces” of the deep south than of Detroit style coneys.  In the pic below, of the sauce out of the microwave, but still in the tray, you can see a little oil slick, and to me, that’s ALWAYS a good sign for coney sauce.  I used Old Wisconsin natural casing wieners, my current favorite.

Prepared them in the traditional coney style, with a squirt of yellow mustard, diced onion and sauce. ONLY. The serving instructions, for hot dogs, suggests 4 T of sauce per dog.  Seems like a lot, but it’s up to you.  I went with 2 T.

In any case, I will pick the product up again and keep one in the freezer, for lazy weekends.

Skyline Chili Review

Out of the Microwave

Skyline Chili Review

Coney Style Hot Dog

Skyline Chili Review

Skyline Chili Plant in Ohio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skyline Frozen Chili Review

Ball Park Franks Angus Review

ball park franksBall Park brand hot dogs are as American as …….Germany.  At least according to Wikipedia, when the Detroit Tigers issued a competitive challenge for companies to come up with an exclusive Tigers frank, a Frankfurt, Germany company called Hygrade won the competition, became ensconced at Tiger stadium and the “legend” grew from there.

Ball Park became a solid American brand when Hygrade was purchased by Sara Lee in 1989, on the company’s quest to move from the grocer’s  bakery shelf to the meat counter for their primary revenue stream.

Some Sara Lee meats ended up domiciled at Hillshire Farms, which now is in the midst of being acquired by Tyson.  That’s a long journey for a simple weenie.

According to some web sources, Ball Park is America’s best selling brand, having toppled Oscar Meyer for the title.  Their marketing slogan is “So American you can taste it,” which is pretty funny considering the original recipe was German.  They could say “As American as Aldi,” maybe.

I picked up a package of Ball Park Angus Beef Franks from the scratch and dent section at my grocery, where they were discounted to $2.  As all of my favorite and preferred brands are hovering around $5 now, which pretty much works out to a buck a dog, this seemed like a deal.  Tho my personal preference is always for natural casing dogs, skinless will do in a pinch, and specifically under two situations at my house:  cut up into a beans and weenie meal, or charred to perfection on a grill.  Charring a skinless gives you a pretty adequate illusion of a casing and ‘snap.’

The ingredient list of the Ball Park Angus frank reads: ANGUS BEEF, WATER, CORN SYRUP, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS: SALT, POTASSIUM LACTATE, FLAVORINGS, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM DIACETATE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA, SODIUM NITRITE.

My critique?  First of all, I’m gonna call “bullshit” on any company that puts “Angus” on their label or in their marketing as something liks 80% of the cattle raised in the US are Angus, so BFD.  If it was “certified black Angus,”  now that’s a real thing. Marketers lately have all taken a class in how to exploit the word “Angus” just like they mistakenly often use the word “Kobe” on menus.  Probably “truffle” should be another one to watch for, as long as you are scrutinizing menus.

The lion’s share of grocery hot dogs are precooked. sometimes in the package, sometimes not.  In regards to Ball Park, I’d prefer if they had a smokier flavor, and did away with the corn syrup as an ingredient.  I see no reason for hot dogs, a product that naturally should fit into the “savory” category, to have a sweetener as an ingredient; and you can taste the sugar in these.

Would I buy them again?  Well, if they were on sale and going to be used for either of the two aforementioned preps.  With the corn syrup, I think they’d do well in beans and weenies.  But today I just put a slight char on them and nestled them into a bun.  Meh.

Postscript:  Tried these a second day in a row, and no matter the toppings or condiments, I can’t shake that sugar taste.  Just not appealing to me, but probably ‘addictive’ to kids.

Ball Park Angus Franks Review

 

 

 

 

Ball Park Franks Angus  Review

 

Gilberts Froman Frank Review

Gilberts Froman Frank ReviewBased in northeastern Wisconsin, Gilbert’s Craft Sausages are touting their all natural, uncured line of franks and sausages. I picked up a package of their “Froman” franks, which I assume is a riff on the character of Abe Froman, the “Sausage King of Chicago” in the Ferris Bueller movie.  Gilbert’s grew out of a passion two friends had for microbrews in 2008.

In addition to the uncured frank, Gilbert’s has a gluten free beer brat, a chipotle mozzarella lime smoked sausage, and an uncured smoked sausage with blue cheese.

“Uncured” meats are those without sodium nitrates or nitrites, which are commonly found preservatives in processed meats.

The ingredient list for the franks is straightforward: Beef Sirloin, Beef, Water, with 2% or less of the following: Seasoning Blend (Natural Spices, Paprika, Natural Flavors), Sea Salt, Sugar, Cherry Powder and Evaporated Cane Syrup, Cultured Celery Juice Powder, Sodium Phosphate, in a Beef Collagen Casing.

The franks are packaged four in a pack, and come individually wrapped, which is kinda nice.  They ARE spendy, however, at about $6.50 per four pack (10 ounces), (online price) or $1.62 per wiener.  That’s steep compared to other premium products.  I generally pay between $4 – $5 for a six wiener package of all beef, natural casing franks, which is my own preference.

I bought them today because they were in the ‘scratch and dent’ section of my grocer, and being sold at $2.00.

The first thing I noticed about the uncooked wiener was its smell, or lack of it.   The slight aroma from the uncooked sausage is actually kind of sweet – as opposed to any kind of smokey odor I would expect.

Aside from the mildness, the flavor is similar to any all beef frank.

It’s a very fine grind sausage, and the collagen casing gives it a little ‘snap.’   Putting a little char on it adds to  the ‘bite factor.’ Would I buy them regularly?  Probably not at this price.  On sale?  Maybe.  But I much prefer natural casings, but that’s just me, and a mere 5 % of hot dog buyers in the U.S.  Buyers looking for all natural dogs and who eschew preservatives will really enjoy this company’s offerings.

Knowing how hard it is to launch a meat biz, and get shelf space, I greatly admire these guys for the progress they are making.

Find Gilbert’s at a store near you, or shop online.

Gilberts Froman Frank Review

 



Couple of Duluth Disappointments

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.

Marcus Theater Hot Dog

Marcus Theater Hot Dog

 

Marcus Theater Hot Dog

Marcus Theater Hot Dog

 

Panera Tuna Sandwich

Panera Tuna Sandwich

 

Panera Duluth Review

Duluth Lobby

Panera 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 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)
  • Buns
  • Yellow mustard

Method:

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.

Assembly:

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

Usinger’s of Milwaukee, NC wieners

 

Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Finely diced onions

 

Coney Island Hot Dog Recipe

Lunch time!

 

 

Coney Island Recipe

 

 

Parkview Beef Wieners Review

Parkview Hot Dogs ReviewI 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 Hot Dogs Review

Parkview Beef Wieners Review

Letter from a Sabrett’s Fan

Robert, in New York, sent along some thoughts that I am happy to repost.  Thanks for the note, Robert.

———————————

I was born before World War 2

Food was scarce Do not remember much growing up,

At age 16  I started to eat Hot Dogs when I worked in New York City.

There was a little Sabrett hot dogs stand on the corner of the Custom House.

A hot dog was $.15 cents and the soda was a dime.

I would help the little old Greek lady set up.

After getting out of the Army I went back to work and she remembered me.

The prices changed but she still sold me a hot dog and soda for the same price.

Now at 76 …… I am still eating Sabrett Hot Dogs.

Why is it that you receive something that says you ‘won’ and then they ask you for money to send it.

Some of us try to help others –

I volunteer at a hospital.

All I have is my old 9-11 memorial Harley and a hell of a lot of memories.

If you dislike Firemen – Soldiers – Policemen, you are a fool or Terrorist ….if not for them you would not be here….

I was a Volunteer Fireman age 18, Soldier age 21, EMS Policeman age 25.

God Bless us all.

Algonquin, IL – Fradillio’s

Fradillio’s is another locally owned “hot dog centric” food establishment in the far northwestern ‘burbs of Chicago.  Featuring the best in local suppliers, Fradillio’s offers hot dogs and polish sausage from Vienna Beef, and Italian Beef from local favorite supplier Devanco.

I went with a bacon cheeseburger, cooked on the charbroiler, with a great bun, and it was delish.  Crinkle cut fries are on tap, served with just the right crispiness and lightly salted.

Fradillio’s offers a complete catering service, where you can feed a family or a crowd;  fill up about 30 persons with 5 pounds of Italian beef, a pan of mostaccioli, a pan of Italian sausage, a large bowl of house salad, and 10 loaves of French bread for $175.  Many other options and sizes available, including wings, ribs, hot dogs, and the like.

Fradillio’s is located at the corner of Highway 62 (Algonquin Road) and Randall Road, at the north end of the Randall Road shopping ‘mecca’.

Fradillio's Hot Dogs on Urbanspoon

Oscar Meyer Selects Angus Smoked Uncured Beef Franks

Whoa, that’s a long name.  Saw these the other day for the first time, when I was in the hunt for my usual brands, premium casing dogs like Usingers or Vienna Beef.

These were $3.99, for a 14 oz, 8 frank package;  they are bun length, and a bit redder in color than most grocery store dogs.

Ingredient list, and what a relief not to see “mechanically separated turkey and chicken” as one runs into so often lately:  Angus beef, water, dextrose, cultured celery juice, vinegar, sodium phosphates, cherry powder, lemon juice solids, flavors, extractives of paprika.

That’s pretty normal stuff.   Dextrose is a simple sugar found in plants, generally used in the curing process of meats, but these are uncured, so it is most likely a flavor enhancer.  Sodium phosphate is used as a preservative instead of nitrates. Dextrose contributes to fermentation which creates some portions of flavor.  All the rest is what it is!

As to putting “Angus Beef” on a label?  80% of beef cattle in the US are Angus, so that’s not a premium point.  I understand that “Certified Angus” is a big deal, if you see that on labels.

Point?  They’re tasty.  And for being a skinless dog, I’d put them on my ‘regular’ list.  With all beef franks, I usually get Nathan’s or Hebrew, but now I have a third choice.

And moms?  Remember to dice the dogs if feeding them to toddlers.

oscar meye

Joliet, IL – Steak ‘n Shake Steak Dog

First the  “Steakburger”, now the “Steak Dog”.  I’m a fan of Steak N Shake, have been for years, even though they never seem to be located in my part of the country, I stop when I am able.   My previous forays have been written about here.

This trip a mere dunk in / out as I was making my way across  “Main Street USA” (I-80) in Northern Illinois, Joliet to be exact, in search of Jake and Elwood.

The Steak Franks are 100% beef, chunks of sirloin, and are offered in varying styles, including “Chicago” (mustard, diced onions, sweet pickle relish, tomato slices, pickle slice, and sport peppers); “Chili Cheese” (Genuine Chili, shredded Cheddar ’n jack cheese, and diced onions); “Carolina Slaw” (mustard, diced onions, and creamy coleslaw); “Cheesey Cheddar” (grilled onions and smothered with loads of melted Wisconsin Cheddar).

I had a dog and a burger.  The dog’s beef flavor is great, one of the best for a skinless.  The only downside here was both buns were a bit “dry”.  They shouldn’t fall apart.

Steak ‘n Shake makes frequent references on their menu to “Genuine” chili, and I have no idea what that means, do you?  BTW, I saw billboards on my trip for S n S offering $3.99 all the pancakes you can eat.  Yummers.

Menu online, as is a locator.

Steak N Shake Steak Dog

Steak 'n Shake on Urbanspoon

Buy Some Stuff



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