Monday, July 7, 2014

Coney Island Hot Dogs, Just Like They Make in Detroit

The story of how the Coney Island hog dog got to the Midwest is pretty straightforward, but no one really knows exactly how the wiener first came to be topped with what is basically a hot meat relish. 

We don’t call it that for obvious reasons, but it does add an entirely new dimension to the old frank. There are many stories, but regardless of how, it only takes one bite to know why.

Like every other ancient American recipe we post, I have no idea how authentic this is, and have never been to Detroit, or even Flint. I have had Nathan’s version, which I enjoyed, but the word on the street is that it’s not nearly as good as the relatives it spawned.

By the way, I’m assuming that if you’ve had the real thing, you’ll let me know if this is even close. Like I said in the video, it’s a long summer of hot dog eating, and I think this coney “don’t call me a chili dog” is a great way to shake things up. I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for enough Coney Sauce for 8-10 hot dogs:
(all spices are to taste!)
1/2 cup diced onion
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef (lean)
2 tbsp butter
2 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2-3 tbsp chili powder or to taste
1 tsp cumin
pinch cayenne
2-3 cups water
1/3 cup ketchup
- Simmer about 1 hour or until desired texture is reached

14 comments:

Patrick Moore said...

Chef John:

As a native Detroiter, I was happy to see you take a crack at this recipe on the blog today!

Also, as someone who has grown up on the real thing, I can tell you that your version, while not authentic, is a very good approximation and is similar to something I've cooked up when I didn't want to leave my house. You've got the right idea with the fine texture for the meat and the spices you used are authentic (though the specifics and proportions can vary from establishment to establishment).

A couple key differences, though:

1) You should really try this with a Michigan natural casing hot dog, such as Koegel's or Kowalski, which unlike their smokey all-beef New York bretheren are much milder, a little sweeter, and made with a mixture of beef and pork. The natural casing also gives them a pleasant "snap" of a bite. Don't quote me on this, but I believe Michigan also has unusually high standards for hot dogs when it comes to fillers/water content/etc. (which wouldn't surprise me because Michigan hot dogs are delicious and you should really try one when you get the chance).

2) Believe it or not, there is no tomato product in the sauce. The unique flavor comes from using a mixture of chuck and beef heart (the proportions vary and some establishments use pure ground beef heart!), as well as sometimes other organ-type stuff like beef suet.

So perhaps what you've made isn't completely authentic, but it's a good cheat (and the mustard/onions/steamed bun are spot on). If you had the Michigan dogs you'd be 90% there :)

Love the blog and have been using it over the past year or so to teach myself how to properly cook. Thanks for the Detroit Coney shout out with this post!

Patrick

Steve said...

Born, raised and live in Detroit - looks pretty good, need to try it. You can nuke the bun for a steamed effect and the hot dog need a bit of a "snap" - I like Koegel vienna's. The real test is if its too messy eat with your hands and requires a fork and knife - then you have an honest to goodness Detroit coney dog.

Jenn said...

We have a recipe for Flint coney sauce and one of the ingredients is ground hot dogs -- I think 4 hot dogs -- and a pound of beef. The recipe actually says "cheap hot dogs," but we use Koegel Viennas to keep it authentic!

BenBarefoot said...

I'm from Toledo OH, which is on the border of Michigan and Ohio. (Go Bucks!) I will tell you the best hot dog you will ever have "Coney Style" comes from here... Not Detroit! The hot dog you are searching for is The Tony Paco hot dog. Tony Paco's is a Toledo restaurant that distributes their hot dogs to supermarkets. Although, I don't know if they have national or regional distribution. Far better than any hot dog I've ever had, and they have the best coney sauce too... which they call Paco's Sauce. Oh, and I forgot to mention the best pickles. I won't buy any other hot dogs, coney sauce, or pickles. It has to be Paco's. Paco's came from the side of T-town that was mostly Hungarian immigrants at the turn of the century. That might help shed light on the history of the Coney Dog.

That being said... Ours are better!

Ohio and Michigan have battled many times. There was once even an Ohio Michigan War... over Toledo! Guess who won? And just like our 19 century militia, our football team, and our drivers being better, so are our hot dogs, hot dog sauce, and pickles!!!

Birder said...

What about an immersion blender instead of the potato masher? Or would that maybe be too over-the-top?

Louise Parker said...

This looks absolutely amazing!! I am going to have to make it. What a lovely recipe.

TBG said...

I can't authenticate your sauce there but, I grew up in the south and we'd call that a chili dog. Now, that you're talking about dogs and all, might I suggest brats? For me, there's only one way to do a brats. Yes, it involves a beer hot tub.

Blue Arc said...

That looks like a mighty tasty dog, Chef! Boiled burger! I never knew how they did that. I love them coney dogs. I'm gonna try it two ways. this recipe and maybe try it with a little Mediterranean spice like that old Greek guy in Cincinnati!

Jesse from Detroit said...

Nice. Almost as ugly as the city. Congrats on the 1080p upgrade! You continue to inspire...

Michael James Hill said...

Detroit schmoit. I was really hoping that you would post Flint, MI Angelos coney dog. The dog is a Kogels, as others have noted. And the coney sauce is not a sauce, it is completely dry and granular. There is rumor of beef suet. Definitely there is paprika. The original owners of Angelos were Greeks. And when you "plate it up" we are talking a bed of white onion.You need to research this. When the 1970 crash came and auto workers left Flint, stands appeared in the Southwest advertising "Flint's Original Coney" for all the immigrants. Angelos is gone and the sad rumor is that this fine culinary masterpiece is no longer available. Even the net fails us. Over to you Chef John.

RubberDuck1111 said...

I can't wait to try this version. As a Flint native I dearly miss a good coney. All we have here are chili dogs which are a poor poor substitute. Jenn and Patrick are both correct. The older recipies call for beef heart and sometimes kidney however, newer recipies use "cheap" hotdogs (read non-koegel) that are ground up and added to the beef. Hearts and kidneys can be hard to find and are used as an ingredient in hotdogs, which are easier to come by. You don't want anything fany for the ground hotdogs. You want the regular, skinless, mystery meat varity.

Dave said...

Patrick Moore is absolutely correct. I have a Flint Coney Resource site at http://micuisine.com/flintconeys/ with the "What Is It?" page showing packages of Abbott's original sauce. That sauce has beef heart as its first ingredient. The site is constantly being improved and updated, and suggestions are welcome.

Gerry Graham said...

"Wiener Routiner" Lol…. I have used this technique several times now with different ingredients. Classic meat sauce, italian, etc.. Last night it was mexican style food. I prefer the texture when its cooked this way. Thanks Chef.

Salli Gillespie said...

Thanks for the post C.J. this looks good. I have enjoyed Coneys and Chili Dogs all over this great country, but I am a Cincinnati native and have to say nothing can compare to the Cincinnati-style Coney. The chili recipie is similar to yours but with the addition of cocoa, maybe some cinnemon. The dog is assembled as you have shown but finishing with a huge pile of finely grated mild cheddar. Fabulous!