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3/12/12

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

I’ve been on the hunt for THE BEST hot dog chili for years. Like, literal Y E A R S, making one recipe after another that have just not hit the mark.

You’re going to think I’m nuts, but what I was after was something like the chili they used to serve at school when I was growing up.

It might have even come from a can but I doubt it because I’m old enough and country enough that our school lunches were actually cooked by actual lunch ladies. Most of whom had big bosoms, cackling laughs, knowing smiles and a genuine love for feeding us rascals. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

Whoa… I’m kinda having an epiphany right now. I think… I think I’m like the lunch ladies! As I was just summoning up memories of the many faces from the lunchrooms of my youth – the way they made me feel seen and looked after – I just realized I could have been describing myself. Or at least who I try to be for these kids.

Wow. Of all the influential women I’ve been lucky enough to know, I ended up most like the lunch ladies of rural South Carolina circa 1986. Well, if so, it is an honor.

Having teenaged kids for the past many years, I’ve gotten used to – and maybe even look forward to – the revolving door of hungry kids in and out. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

Like, for example, when I had EIGHT unexpected visitors Friday after school before the football game. I had just finished photographing the Chicken & Noodles I’d made that day, so I offered it to them and that pot was scraped clean by the time they all left in a whirlwind for the game.

There is nothing better for someone who loves to feed people than to see hungry kids scarfing down something you cooked. Not chips and junk but a big pot of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. And I love that I can’t go to a school function or home game without hearing, “Hey Ms. Mandy” from a dozen teenagers who don’t worry about looking cool when they see me.

OK, what were we talking about?? Oh, yeah. CHILI. This is a post about hot dog chili, Mandy. Focus. FOCUS!

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

What I liked about the hot dog chili they made in school was that it was very thin and had a fine texture. It tasted more like traditional chili (cumin, chili powder, etc) and not like the ketchup-y, sloppy joe-ish chili I grew up with at home. 

The school chili might have been a little tooooooo thin (seriously, sometimes you had to eat your chili dog with a fork) but I knew I liked it better than the chunky, scrape-the-roof-of-your-mouth variety of chili.

It took some years, but I finally figured out how to get that finer texture. And it ain’t pretty. When I first heard of this method I thought, uhhmmm, no thanks! but I talked with enough people and read enough recipes to finally understand it’s just how you do it. 

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

You don’t brown the ground beef like you do for every other recipe on earth, you mix the raw meat with water and cook it like that. The ground beef will easily and quickly break down into a finely minced consistency that is soft and tender. The first time I did it, my nostrils were jacked up to my cheekbones in a suspicious scowl a la Madame Medusa from The Rescuers (the original and best Rescuers from 1977, that is). 

But it works! It’s brilliant! Cooking the ground beef in water turns it into EXACTLY the consistency I wanted!! Many of you already know this. I didn’t know. I did not know!

You have to use verrrrry lean ground beef because there’s no way of draining the excess oil. You could wait until grease starts to pool in the top of the chili then ladle it off but it’s just easier to start with lean meat (at least 90%).

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

The next step was figuring out the flavor. A lot of the recipes I found had condiments in them (ketchup, mustard, chili sauce, barbeque sauce, etc). I tried many of them because it seemed like a good way to create a sauce but found that I kept ending up in Sloppy Joe territory. 

Then I approached it the way I make traditional chili, using tomato sauce and a lot of cumin but I couldn’t get the sauce right and it always just tasted like taco meat.

After many, many so-so attempts over almost a decade, we sat down to this recipe and I waited to see everyone’s reaction. The reactions were outstanding! The best coming from Mama who said she was surprised how much she liked it! That might not sound like High Praise but Mama doesn’t mince words and isn’t a gushy person. She doesn’t say she likes something unless she truly does (especially not to me). Husband and the kids all agreed. This was The One.

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!

I don’t use as much water as most other recipes call for because I don’t really see the point. You have to cook it until it evaporates out soooo… why make a 1-hour recipe into a 4-hour recipe? One hour is PLENTY of time for the flavors to meld and the texture to be tender and saucy. 

I do sauté the onions, garlic and tomato paste. You just can’t duplicate the deep flavors of cooked onions and garlic with powdered spices. And cooking the tomato paste a few minutes gives it somewhat of a roasted flavor that makes the chili taste like it cooked all day. 

Use this recipe to make Chili Dogs (obviously), Chili Cheese Dogs, Chili Cheese Fritos (or tater tots!), Slaw Dogs or Chili Cheese Fries. I usually pop the leftovers in the freezer then reheat it the next time we're having hot dogs OR I cut the leftover wieners into bite-sized pieces then stir them into the chili for a quick lunch later in the week.

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!) The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!
hot dog, hotdog, chili, chili sauce, coney island, homemade, best, how to, water, spicy, chili cheese, fries, fritos, walking tacos, tater tots, sonic, recipe
american
Yield: 8-10 Servings
Author: Mandy Rivers | South Your Mouth
The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The BEST Hot Dog Chili (SERIOUSLY!)

The Coney Island style recipe for fine, tender meaty chili sauce perfect for Chili Dogs and Chili Cheese Fries – ‘The One’, the BEST recipe – that took me almost a decade to perfect!
Prep time: 5 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 5 M

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 6-oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 lb lean ground chuck (90/10 or leaner)

Instructions

  1. Sauté onions in oil (just enough to cook them in) over medium heat in a saucepan for 5 minutes or until golden.
  2. Add garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste then stir and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the paste just starts to brown on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add water then stir well to deglaze the pan. Add chili powder and remaining spices then whisk until smooth.
  5. Add ground beef then stir the meat into the liquid with a whisk or fork. Once the meat and sauce are uniformly combined, bring to a low boil.
  6. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove lid then continue simmering, uncovered, for 30 additional minutes or until chili has reached desired thickness.
  8. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Notes:

  • You can freeze this in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
  • You can double or triple the recipe just use a wider pot accordingly so the liquid evaporates like it needs to.
  • This recipe can’t be made as-is in a crock pot since the water has to evaporate out for the chili to thicken. If you want to try it, MY BEST GUESS would be to add about 1 1/4 cups water with the ground beef after step 4 (add just enough water so that the meat breaks down when stirred) then transfer everything to a slow cooker then cook on Low for 4-6 hours or High for 2-3.
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23 comments:

  1. Sounds good. I may need to try this, but if you really want a good hot dog try it wih sweet cole slaw...

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    1. Wendy, do you have a recipe for sweet Cole slaw?
      Carol

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  2. I just made this tonight!!! Oh M GEEE!! Yumm! It was so good! :)

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  3. I am making it now and man it sure taste great. Thanks for sharing...

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  4. I will try this tonight! I find that cooking the beef at a lower temp helps it to break down to smaller pieces.

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  5. I usually cook up ground beef in water to get a finer texture. Then, drain it and put in bags and freeze. Then, when I want to make chili, spaghetti, or some other ground beef dish, I just thaw one of the bags and add the remaining ingredients.
    I can already tell this Hot Dog Chili is going to be dangerous to my hips!! :)

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  6. I run the meat thru food processor right after cooking it. I do this for sloppie joes and for sausage gravy! Recipe sounds great and will try soon!

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  7. Ever try Nathan's Hot Dogs?? I saw you on QVC, !!!! :) :) :)

    Barbarainnc

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    1. Nathans hot dogs ARE the best...and Kosher too) we always but them, and especially the quarter pound size as we like a plump dog...we also Love Koegal brand, when we "want that Snap...just too skinny...

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  8. Mandy, I made this last night and it was delicious. I followed the recipe exactly even though I was tempted to make a couple changes but I decided to see how it turned out first and I'm so glad I did. I've tried a few other hot dog chili recipes from various sites including one from Allrecipes that is highly rated. Even though they all are similar, I have to say this recipe has the right ingredient ratio that just works! The flavors all meld so well. This will be my go to recipes for hot dogs from now on. Thanks again for another great recipe.

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  9. If you really want to up the ante then bake your hot dogs in the bun with your chili sauce, mustard, onions and cheese for 1/2 an hour.

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  10. The recipe I use is the A&W Root Beer restaurant chili sauce recipe. The only thing I do differently is add a splash or two of liquid smoke and hot sauce. Delicious

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  11. Made this and it is some good! I really think I like the texture of it after it has been frozen and reheated.

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  12. Thank you Mandy for posting this recipe. I could never get my chili to come out right every time, no matter how I tried. Now I can. Can't wait to try it!!!!

    Louise

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  13. I am going to try this. It looks just like our A&W coney dogs.

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  14. Do you precook the meat?

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  15. This is how we prepare the ground beef for Cincinnati-style chili, so I can vouch for the wonderful consistency of the beef cooked this way. Gonna have to try your hot-dog-chili topper during our next camping weekend!

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  16. I just got through making this Hot Dog Chili, I haven't went to the store yet to buy Hot dogs, but I think I want Polish Sausages and a good Hot Dog for this. I can't wait for dinner tonight, This is going to be good, I have also prepared several toppings for these delicious hot dogs for tonight. Thanks for the great recipe.

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  17. So I made this and I love how the liquid breaks down the meat that way but the flavoring was V a little off for me. Coney sauce has a tang so I added Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, a lil sugar, mustard and celery salt. Voilà

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  18. Trina, there are so many great hot dogs that Nathan's need to be on that list. But here are a few that I buy first, in my order of preference. Hofman's (white casing), Sabrett's, Shalene's and Nathan's All made in New York State.

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Hi there! While I’m not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven’t been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments.

I can tell you now 1) I have no idea if you can substitute Minute Rice or brown rice in my recipes because I’ve never used them and 2) If I know how to convert a recipe to a Crock Pot version, I will make a note about it (otherwise, I don’t know).

And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y’all! - Mandy