Chuck Hayes, Newborn, Georgia - [email protected]
Legend has it that Charles Feltman “invented” the modern hot dog in a bun on Coney Island New York in 1871. Plebeian? I think not. A good quality hot dog (like Hebrew National all beef) in a steamed bun is heaven by itself. Top it with a good quality hot dog chili or “coney sauce” and it rises to an elevated state. Forget gilding the lily with sport peppers, celery salt, pickles, tomatoes or neon green relish like those crazy people from Chicago are apt to serve. Oh no.
Growing up in the burbs of Detroit I had access to a hundred coney “joints” within 15 miles of my house. Most of the better coney joints or diners were owned by 1) Greek immigrants or 2) children of Greek immigrants. Don’t know why or how this came to be; it just was. One of my favorite places to ride my bike to on a Saturday afternoon and spend a couple of my hard earned paper route dollars was Athens Coney Island. The business still exists---but it lost some of its charm when it tore down the stark white building with white floors, and white stools that swiveled at the (you guessed it) white laminate counter. Now there is a flash of neon everywhere you look in the new place. The coney’s are still great though.
GREEK CONEY SAUCE RECIPE
• 1 lb ground beef
• 1 cup lard (Don’t be scared, you only live once)
• 1 medium onion diced
• 1/3 cup chili powder
• 2 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp black pepper coarsely ground
• 1 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp cumin powder
• 1 tsp allspice
• 1 tsp dried basil
• 1 tsp salt
• ½ tsp dried oregano
To get the right consistency, cover the meat with water and soak, in the fridge, for about 30 minutes.
Then take a fork and break up any remaining chunks.
Drain the water and go on to browning the beef, onion and shortening. You will have some water while browning but it will slowly steam off.
Add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 2 hours.
You may have to add some water to get the right thick yet pourable consistency.
This freezes well.
To eat: spread a line of yellow mustard in the base of the steamed bun; lay hotdog down; ladle (don’t be cheap) coney sauce, and top with a generous portion of finely minced onion. Nothing more. Nothing less. Perfection.