Homemade Chili Dogs

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When it comes to hot dogs there is one item that stands alone as the best topping – chili. Chili dogs are my favorite guilty pleasure, I don’t indulge in them very often, but when I do – I go crazy.

Years ago, I used to eat chili dogs after a late night out on the town. There was something comforting and hangover-curing about a hot dog smothered in Hormel chili that seemed to get the day going for me. Not sure if the dogs contained a little magic or it was just what a 20-something guy living in New York City needed to get his ass off the coach after a late night of beer swilling.

For this recipe, I make my own chili sauce for the dogs. I started by browning the ground beef. While it cooked I made sure to completely break it up into fine little bits. When it was finished I draining most of the fat away. The aromatics were next and when ready I mixed in a little tomato paste to help thicken the final product. I returned the meat, stirred in the spices and beef broth then brought it to a simmer. I cooked the mixture until most of the liquid had evaporated and was thickened into a nice sauce to coat the meat.

The end result is a meaty chili, loaded with flavor and perfect on top of a frank. I finish the dog with a little cheese and raw red onion. Then it was time to devour a couple or 6!

This is the second dog inspired by a hot dog bar I created recently for a gathering that I attended. No hot dog bar could be complete without chili for chili dogs, it wouldn’t be a hot dog bar without it. The last time I made chili for chili dogs I went with a Cincinnati-style chili which included cinnamon and clove. This time I stuck with a more traditional chili flavor and made a meatier sauce than usual. The chili reminded my of a Mexican bolognese. It had that fine textured meaty quality to it. I thought it held the flavor well and made a nice topping for the dog.

If I were to do this same sauce again I may add a half cup of crushed tomato or tomato puree just to make it more saucy. That’s all I would change though because this really packed a great chili flavor and was perfect for dogs. It wasn’t bad eating alone either - I ate about a third of it just snacking on the chili while I took pictures of the dogs for the blog.

Eat well, cook often ...

Makes 16 hot dogs; 45 minutes
2 lbs Ground beef
1/2 C Onion, diced
1/4 C Jalapeño seeded, diced
2 Tbs Tomato paste
1 Tbs Garlic, minced
1 C Beef broth
2 Tbs Chili powder
1 Tbs Cumin
2 tsp Mexican oregano
16 Hot dogs
16 Hot dog bun

1 C Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 C Onion diced

Brown beef
In a pot over medium heat brown ground beef, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings.

Create chili base
Add onion and jalapeño to pot and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in garlic and tomato paste, cook 2 minutes more.

Make chili
Return ground beef to pot, add chili powder, cumin, oregano and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook 35 minutes or until thickened slightly. Adjust seasoning if necessary and remove from heat.

Cook and assemble dogs

While chili simmers, cook hot dogs on a grill over medium heat until cooked through, turning often, 6 to 8 minutes. On a bun layer hot dog, chili, cheddar cheese and diced onion. Then serve.

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