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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Dogs!!!

I've never really been much of a hot dog fan. Yeah, I'll eat them at a ball game but that's about it. I don't even grill them in the summer unless someone else wants them...Until now!

One of my favorite websites is Chowhound, and I recently saw a posting concerning not just hot dogs, but hot dog shops from the New Castle area. I learned that there are a number of Coney Island style hot dog places that exist in that area that were started years ago by immigrants, mainly Greek it seems. People from all over the country remember the special hot dogs and sauce that they could only seem to get in New Castle, PA. Not long after reading and becoming fascinated with this, a hot dog shop opened in my neighborhood of Mount Washington called Packs 'n Dogs. This was a diner and still looks like it. It's not a bar atmosphere, but you can get a good brew with your dog if you like. They have over 200 varieties of beers on hand and the hot dogs are all named after dogs. The Chihuahua is a chili dog with cheddar cheese and onions. The Irish Setter has coleslaw and fries and there are several other good choices. Needless to say, I've eaten at Packs 'n Dogs several times and have started to get occasional cravings for hot dogs!

One of the things that intrigued me about the posts on Chowhound was that so many people just loved the type of hot dog sauce that they get in New Castle. I got several recipes from those folks and have tried them, but here is the one that I think is the best!

1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. basil

2-1/4 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

1 tsp. cumin

2 md. onions, finely diced

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

1 can water

1 Tbsp. prepared mustard

4 raw hot dogs, finely ground

The beef and hot dogs should be ground finely so you end up with a sauce consistency. You don't want it to turn out chunky like chili. One way is to run it through a food processor before you cook it.

Brown the ground beef, drain some of the grease (leave some) and add the onions. Cook until opaque. Combine all remaining ingredients and simmer at least 2 hours.

The great thing about this sauce is that it actually includes ground up hot dogs! I usually buy good quality dogs like Hebrew Nationals to eat, but I use the cheap, bargain dogs to make the sauce.


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Ralphnf said...

One of the New Castle hot dog shops now has a 'branch' in pgh. Hot Franks in the strip is owned by the folks that own Bills sandwich shop in NC. I'm originally from the area myself (Ellwood City), and have long been an aficionado. Bill's chili may be the best. You can buy the chili by the pint or gallon, incidentally. Give them a try, the classic combo is chili mustard and onion.

I'm really hoping they survive, but at least in the evenings they seem kind of dead. I don't think they push the chili enough, or make it clear that its their specialty. Munch was recently there and barely even mentioned the chili, which leaves me to believe that he/she did not get the idea that the chili was central to what they do.

Dave, The BurghFeeder said...

Thanks for the info. I read the Munch review and I've driven past Hot Franks several times but haven't stopped yet. I'll be sure to go there now!