A lot of us prefer eating chili while hunched over a bowl in winter. But it’s the 4th of July, and we have a new beef hot dog formula we can’t get enough of, so the team decided a chili dog taste test was in order.
We agreed to try a “Coney Island” style meat sauce and a hearty chili con carne to top our dogs. Our friends at Rhingeist brought the beer (in red, white, and blue cans of course), and we twisted the arms of a few farm guys to be our guinea pigs.
Chili con carne is a staple I’ve been making at home for a decade, and that recipe came easily. I’ve never cooked Coney Island sauce though, so research was in order.
Coney Island sauce is thought to have been invented in the early 1900’s when Greek and Macedonian immigrants fleeing war in their homeland came to New York. Many tried their first hot dog at the famous Coney Island amusement park. The NY Chamber of Commerce, afraid that foreigners might confuse the hot dog with a real perro, outlawed the term “hot dog” in restaurants. So it was that our familiar sausage on a bun became known as “a Coney Island”. These immigrants innovated the humble hot dog by topping it with a meat sauce with flavors of home. As these families made their homes across the country, versions of this sausage, bun, and meat sauce popped up everywhere as a “Coney Island”. To this day, regions fiercely defend their Coney as the best.
With this information and a few recipes reviewed, I gave two chilis my best shot.
The result was two delicious toppings for our grassfed beef hot dogs. Our group gathered under the sun and enjoyed local watermelon, salad just picked from Maggie’s garden, our chili dogs, and a cold Streaker. We invited Omar and Cameron, our friends from Rhinegeist, to act as our official judges. They were tough enough to eat two dogs and named the winner...
Chili Con Carne!!!!
Which chili would you choose? Repeat the challenge at home with the recipes below:
The Greatest Chili Con Carne
•1/2 tbsp coconut oil
•2 medium onions (about 2 cups) diced (remember, this is going over hot dogs. No one wants a giant chunk of onion on that bun.)
•2 lbs Foxhollow Farm 100% Grassfed ground beef (85/15)
•1-2 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
•1/2 tsp cumin
•2 tbsp chili powder
•4 small green peppers (about 1 cup) diced
•2 x 14.5 oz diced tomato (Hunt’s Fire Roasted have a great punch.)
•1/2 cup (scant) flavorful beer (I love Rhinegeist's Hustle.)
•1 tbsp tomato paste
•1 14.5 oz can kidney beans (Always check the sodium content on canned beans if you can’t make your own - some brands are LOADED with unnecessary salt.)
•1/2 can mixed chili beans
•2 tsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
•1/2 tsp Foxhollow Farm Cayenne Pepper
•a few drops Liquid Smoke
Warm coconut oil over medium heat in a large pan or dutch oven. Sautee the onions until translucent and golden, then add ground beef. This is the time to squirt some Sriracha, if you dare. When the beef is nearly brown, add the diced peppers, chili powder and cumin, stirring to release the spicy aromas.
Now here’s my dirty, nit-picky dark secret: I buy diced tomatoes and then blend them myself. I know, it’s dumb, because technically, I’m just turning them in to pureed tomatoes, and there’s a can of that, ready made. I hear your cries. Please feel free to buy this much more sensible option when you make your chili. I just like tomatoes that are a touch shy of pureed - with a little bite left. Don’t judge me.
Next, add your beans. I don’t rinse all that starchy goodness off before I throw them in. I just drain the excess water. Again, your call. Add the remaining ingredients, stir and salt to taste.
Serve with steamed bun, grassfed beef hot dog, onions, and shredded cheese. Add some fresh jalapenos if you dare!
No Shame in Second Place Coney Island Sauce
•1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
•1-2 small onions, diced (about 1 cup)
•1 lb Foxhollow Farm 100% Grassfed ground sirloin
•1 lb Foxhollow Farm 100% Grassfed ground chuck
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 tsp Bourbon Barrel Foods smoked paprika
•1/2 tsp cumin
•1 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp Coleman’s mustard powder
•1/8 - 1/4 tsp Foxhollow Farm Cayenne Pepper
•1 1/2 cup tomato sauce
•1 tbsp tomato paste
•1 tsp Bragg’s liquid amino
•1 tsp Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
•The smallest, and I mean smallest, pinch of cinnamon you can manage. It’s a nice “what’s that flavor” question. Too much cinnamon is a very easy bridge to cross.
In a large pan or dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil on medium. Sweat the onions for just a minute or two, to take the edge off. Add the ground meat to the pan. Because grass-fed meat is so lean, I saw no need to drain any fat, but if you use fattier meat, you may choose to do so once your meat is browned. Add the minced garlic and the spices all at once. Turn the mixture just a minute more to let the spices release their aroma. Then pour the tomato sauce and tomato paste into the pot and heat through. Once it reduces a few minutes, add the liquid amino and vinegar.
Serve sauce over a steamed bun and 100% Grassfed beef hot dog. Top with diced onion and yellow mustard.
Ninja & Chili maker-at-large