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The Official Coney Dog Thread

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  • JeffJ
    Charter Member
    • Feb 2015
    • 2494
    • Michigan
    • Jeff

    The Official Coney Dog Thread

    The Coney Dog has its origins in Jackson and Detroit, Michigan and it has more of a regional flare than I realized. It is a simple dish: Natural casing dog that 'snaps' when bitten into, coney sauce, chopped white onion, yellow mustard on a steamed bun. That is it. It sounds simple, but it's amazing how many places get it wrong....

    1st off, I'd like to start with some terminology. Notice that I haven't called it a "Chili Dog", nor have I used the term "Chili" at all. I privately messaged Huskee regarding the creation of this thread and the one comment he made that was SO true is that many people assume that coney sauce is simply chili minus the beans. That is NOT the case. Coney sauce is its own unique item. I wouldn't eat a bowl of coney sauce. It wouldn't be very good in that quantity. It's actually a condiment and when perusing the internet for coney sauce recipes you'll find the ingredient list to be rather pedestrian and simple. Ground chuck, powdered spices, tomato-based liquid and that's about it. The trick is achieving a gravy-like thickness and higher ratio of gravy to meat than is typical in chili. The best coney sauces are zesty and slightly spicy IMO. Some Coney Island restaurants have a bowl of chili as a menu item. Essentially, they add some lightly seasoned and browned ground beef to some coney sauce.

    A key aspect of the coney that so many places get wrong is the balance. If a fork and knife is needed to eat a coney then it has way too much coney sauce on it. You should be able to pick up a coney dog and eat it with your hands. Sure, you'll have a little sauce and mustard goop out and you'll want a fork on hand to mop that up, but if you can't eat it with your hands, it's not properly balanced.

    Now, for as much as I am sounding like a coney purist, I'm not totally rigid. For starters, I cannot stand raw onions. When I eat a coney it never has raw onions on it. Also, I'm very heavy-handed with the mustard. Lastly, when I make a coney I don't use natural casing dogs. For some reason, when I bite into a coney with a natural casing dog, my teeth don't quite penetrate the dog and it ends up lifting out of the bun and smacking my nose, leaving coney sauce and mustard on my face. So, I like skinless franks. I know losing that 'snap' loses part of the experience, but I find the trade-off worth it. Most restaurants either steam their dogs or griddle cook them. I think they are even better gently-cooked on a charcoal grill indirect for the entire cook with a small, golf-ball sized chunk of wood. Put a hot dog over direct heat and within 10 seconds the outside gets blackened and leathery.

    I am on a quest to create the perfect coney sauce recipe and plan on finding reasons to have coney dogs for dinner very soon so that I don't end up freezing quarts of coney sauce as a little coney sauce goes a long way. If anyone has suggestions, I am all eyes. I've always just winged my coney sauce in the past and while I was always happy with the results, It was always too meaty. A couple of cool ideas I've picked up in my on-line research is once the sauce has simmered, remove about a quarter of it, pop it into a food processor and process until it's a thick liquid, that way it thickens without messing around with a corn-starch slurry, adding masa harina near the end of the cook, etc. Another cool idea that I'm going to experiment with is to process a raw frank and add it to the sauce 15 minutes before it's done simmering. That little trick would add an element that my sauces have never had. I will be measuring out ingredients and am looking to create a recipe that will produce consistently good coney sauce every time. This is particularly where I hope to get some ideas from Pit members.

    In spite of its simplicity, when properly done, the coney dog is a culinary delight. I will tell you that I've sampled plenty of brands of canned coney sauce and they are all crap except for Tony Packo's. If I were to have to make coneys in a pinch, I am very happy with Tony Packo's canned chili (I doctor it up a little bit, but even that isn't necessary). And for those of you who are M*A*S*H fans, yes, THAT Tony Packo's. Toledo is only an hour drive for me and I've eaten at Packo's a few times. The place is legit. I always keep a can of Packo's chili in the pantry for an emergency craving.

    Finally, I'll conclude this post with a link to a nice video about American Coney Island, located at the corner of Lafayette and Michigan Avenue in Detroit:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E956y8TtfVY


    Last edited by JeffJ; April 16, 2018, 08:03 PM.
  • Troutman
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 8121
    • 1521

    • OUTDOOR COOKERS

      BBQ ACCESSORIES

      WOOD & PELLET PREFERENCES

      SOUS VIDE

      INDOOR COOKWARE


    #2
    So the original Coney Dog doesn’t come from Coney Island? Someone run tell Joey Chestnut, he’s eating the wrong dogs!!!

    Comment


    • JeffJ
      JeffJ commented
      Editing a comment
      Good observation, Troutman. The Coney dog does NOT originate at Coney Island.
  • JeffJ
    Charter Member
    • Feb 2015
    • 2494
    • Michigan
    • Jeff

    #3
    To address what Troutman said, here is a quick primer on the coney dog:

    "Many people think that the Coney dog, also called the Coney Island hot dog, got its start on Coney Island, NY where the hot dog was created. In actuality, this popular food got its start in Michigan, although the exact location is still disputed. Three locations in Michigan all claim to be the birthplace of Coney dogs: American Coney Island in Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson.

    In 1917, Gust Keros opened American Coney Island. A few years later Keros’s brother opened Lafayette Coney Island next door. Both of these Detroit Coney Islands are incredibly popular to this day, where there is an on-going argument over which establishment serves the best Coney dog. The dispute has been featured on several food television shows, including Food Wars and Man v. Food.

    A Coney dog is a beef hotdog, topped with an all meat, beanless chili, diced white onions, and yellow mustard. A true Coney dog uses made-in-Michigan products."

    Source:

    https://detroithistorical.org/learn/...roit/coney-dog

    Comment

    • ssandy_561
      Charter Member
      • Apr 2015
      • 1458
      • Central OHIO

      #4
      Click image for larger version

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ID:	484597 All I know about coney dogs is what you need to make the best one

      Comment


      • texastweeter
        texastweeter commented
        Editing a comment
        Got the rope, someone go find a post oak with a sturdy branch! Troutman ComfortablyNumb

      • ComfortablyNumb
        ComfortablyNumb commented
        Editing a comment
        texastweeter Nah. let's do it with style. We'll tie him to the bumper of my '56 and drag him down Main St. ;-)

      • texastweeter
        texastweeter commented
        Editing a comment
        I think the sauce is for a dog called a Texas Hot Weiner, it apparently originates in Western NY... Everyone wants to claim Texan... @ Comfortably Numb Troutman
    • cscheib
      Club Member
      • Apr 2017
      • 49
      • Northville, MI

      #5
      I'm an advocate of the Flint-style (Angelo's) coney - I don't like coneys that are too saucy. The beef heart adds richness. Some recipes incorporate ground hot dogs.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coney_...og#Flint_style

      I grew up just south of Flint, and went to college there, so perhaps I'm biased. But, Koegel's dogs are the best, skin-on or skinless.

      Disclaimer: Of the oft disputed duo, I think American is trash (and dirty) - I'd rather even have National. Lafayette all the way. Credentials: I work downtown, live just north of there, and been an MI resident my entire life.

      Comment


      • sparetime
        sparetime commented
        Editing a comment
        I grew up in Warren and now live in Fenton - I'll have to agree that Koegel's makes the best dogs!!
    • JeffJ
      Charter Member
      • Feb 2015
      • 2494
      • Michigan
      • Jeff

      #6
      National makes pretty good coneys. Lipuma's Coney Island in Rochester Hills makes excellent coneys. Between American and Lafayette...I always thought I preferred Lafayette. I dined at American last November and Lafayette a couple of weeks ago and thought American was better. which surprised me.

      Comment

      • JeffJ
        Charter Member
        • Feb 2015
        • 2494
        • Michigan
        • Jeff

        #7
        cscheib I'm not a fan of Kogel's franks. I have wanted to like them and have tried to force the issue, but I just don't care for them all that much. Don't get me wrong, they are not bad by any stretch, I just prefer Dearborn or even Ball Park over Kogel's.

        Comment


        • cscheib
          cscheib commented
          Editing a comment
          the viennas (natural casing) are where it's at... I've never resorted to franks
      • ssandy_561
        Charter Member
        • Apr 2015
        • 1458
        • Central OHIO

        #8
        The best way to cook a natural casing hot dog in my opinion is "The reverse sear" method. I've been doing that for years for hot dogs even before seeing it here on Amazing Ribs for steaks.

        I never thought to do the reverse sear technique for steaks until I saw it here.
        Last edited by ssandy_561; April 16, 2018, 09:26 PM.

        Comment

        • CaptainMike
          Club Member
          • Nov 2015
          • 2931
          • The Great State of Jefferson
          • 24X40 Lone Star Grillz offset smoker
            Weber Summit Charcoal Grill w/SnS and DnG (Spartacus)
            Old school big'ol Traeger w/Pro controller (Big Tex)
            2 W22's w/SnS, DnG (1 black, 1 copper) (Minions 1 and 2)
            20+ y/o many times rebuilt Weber Genesis w/GrillGrates (Gas Passer)
            20 x 30 Santa Maria grill (Maria, duh)
            Bradley cabinet smoker (Pepper Gomez)
            36" Blackstone griddle (The Black Beauty)
            Fireboard
            Thermoworks Smoke and Thermapen.

          #9
          OMG, will one of you guys just give us a recipe!! Many of us probably didn't even know that a Coney Island dog isn't just a weenie smothered in chili, cheese and onions (which doesn't suck either).

          Comment


          • Troutman
            Troutman commented
            Editing a comment
            Lol...you said “weenie”

          • Elton's BBQ
            Elton's BBQ commented
            Editing a comment
            haha
        • JeffJ
          Charter Member
          • Feb 2015
          • 2494
          • Michigan
          • Jeff

          #10
          CaptainMike When I make coney sauce, I wing it. I am on a quest to develop the perfect coney sauce recipe. Once I have done so and taste-testers agree that it's sublime, I will post the recipe on this thread and will create a separate thread that features the same recipe. I'm not there yet, unfortunately, which was one of my motivations for creating this thread - Pit member suggestions.

          Comment

          • JeffJ
            Charter Member
            • Feb 2015
            • 2494
            • Michigan
            • Jeff

            #11
            When I was growing up one of my favorite restaurants in Plymouth (my parents still live in the house they bought in '79) was Daly. It goes back decades and had a fairly prominent footprint in Southern-Eastern Michigan back in the "Happy Day's" era. The one I grew up with had those outdoor drive-in lanes where you dined in your car with the waitress bringing the food to you. Now, in the '80's those drive-up booths were barely used but the traditional diner menu remained. Believe it or not, I was a really finicky eater when I was young - I didn't like pizza, hamburgers or fries. But I loved the menu at Daly. Their vegetable beef soup and their foot-long coney dogs were divine. I bring it up because I haven't had a Daly-Dog since I was in college (I graduated in '93). I am thinking a pilgrimage to the Daly in Livonia is necessary to see if the soup and the coney are as good as I remember.

            Here is a link to their website:

            http://dalyrestaurants.com/menu?cat=5

            When my mom and dad were dating Daly was a hot-spot and none of the teens ever set foot in the restaurant. All food was "carry-out".

            Comment

            • Aimless1
              Former Member
              • May 2017
              • 173
              • Grand Rapids, MI

              #12
              Fun video. Love Koegel dogs. Life long Michigan resident and did not know the coney originated here. Have to agree that if we have a thread dedicated to Coney dogs then we need at least one coney recipe. Sadly, never made them at home so I have nothing to offer.

              Comment

              • Frozen Smoke
                Club Member
                • Nov 2017
                • 1531
                • Northern Mn

                #13
                Let me be the first to offer up a recipe. I just spent a hour digging through my recipe file looking for the 3X5 recipe card with the hand written recipe on it for Coney Sauce given to me by a foodie friend of mine about 10 years ago. He was in his late 70's then and used to sharpen knives for the butchers in the area. The guy had some connections. Any way here is the recipe as written on the card he gave me.

                2lbs. Hamburger
                1/2lb Lard
                1tsp. Salt
                1tsp. Garlic Salt
                1Tbls. Vinegar
                Fry hamburger and lard together add salts and vinegar.Fry and crumble meat fine.

                In a separate bowl.
                1/4 cup paprika (not designated in recipe but I would use sweet Hungarian)
                1/2 cup chili powder
                1/4 Tbls. Red pepper flake
                Add small amount of boiling water to above ingredients to dissolve.

                Add 1 quart boiling water to hamburger mixture then add spices from the separate mixture.
                Stir and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
                Add 1Tbls. Flour if mixture is too thin or water if too thick.

                Note: Do not drain hamburger after cooking that's where your flavor is.

                Disclaimer: I have never made this recipe so I can't vouch for it other than I would trust the guy I got it from as a legit coney sauce recipe. If some one takes the effort to make it please post the results.

                Comment

                • cscheib
                  Club Member
                  • Apr 2017
                  • 49
                  • Northville, MI

                  #14
                  I'll refrain from posting a recipe for Flint-style, as I haven't made any myself, but there are many recipes out there... some include ground hot dogs or beef hearts. A friend in high school had a recipe that I remember being delicious, but I don't currently have a way of contacting him.

                  This thread will likely encourage me to make a few attempts as soon as this shitty cold lets up.

                  Comment

                  • Aimless1
                    Former Member
                    • May 2017
                    • 173
                    • Grand Rapids, MI

                    #15
                    Thanks Frozen Smoke! I know you said you had not made it, but have you had it?

                    Been awhile since I made something with lard in it

                    Comment


                    • Frozen Smoke
                      Frozen Smoke commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Sorry I missed your post somehow. I have had it as the guy made some for a work get together we had. I loved it. He claimed it was from a guy he knew who ran a coney dog cart in Philly.

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