Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. ~ CK Chesterton

Howdy Yall! It's time to lick your lips and drool as we discuss yummy vittles and Texas testaments to taste!

I hope you enjoy your time with us. Please be sure to drop by and leave a message or a hello. We want to know how to better serve you!

~Blue Zebra

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Texas Chili Dogs, The National Sandwich of Texas

We’ve talked about the perfect buns and you have the secrets to Authentic Texas Chili. What could possibly come next? Of course, it’s the Texas Chili Dog, the ubiquitous sandwich of Texas. The chili dog shares versions in various regions throughout the U.S. but it’s the national dish of Texas, the chili, that really highlights the difference between a Texas Chili Dog and a chili dog from any other state.

Not only is this incredibly comforting chili dog the national sandwich of the great state of Texas but it also happens to be my submission for the best sandwich contest called, Show Us Your Sarnie, being sponsored by my friend Marie, at her wonderful website showcasing English Country Manor Life. Her blog, A Year From Oak Cottage, is a charming account of genteel country life, almost old worldly in feel. Each day, I eagerly visit to read about what is happening in Marie's English paradise and what has happened over at "the big house"! Don't forget to go visit and vote for my Texas Chili Dog!

In Houston, we have a famous hot dog chain, James Coney Island. Our mom lurrrrrved those chili dogs from James Coney Island and Dad loved their chili. You could even buy bricks of their chili, frozen at the restaurant. Now I could “tolerate” this chili, being made from a hamburger type meat and being mostly gravy, but I still
wasn’t real wild about them. I think part of their mystique is that James Coney Island was part of “early Houston” history. Their first store was downtown, not very far away from our granddad’s saloon, The Inter-Urban Buffet, which was right across the street from the Rice Hotel.

To say chili dogs are a big thing in our family is an understatement. To this day, my brother, who lives in Austin, has to hit James Coney Island for chili dogs when he is in Houston. One of my nephews, G’s treats, as a little boy was to go grab a chili dog with Mimi and Pa, as Dad was called by the Houston grandkids. The Dallas part of the family, my oldest sissy, C, and my brother-in-law, F, along with their kiddos and grandkids and F’s mom, dad and siblings have a tradition of eating their big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve after Mass on Christmas Eve, then having homemade chili dogs for Christmas dinner.

So chili and hot dogs run deep in our veins and I dare say, through the veins of many Houstonians and Texans. I have actually become a convert in my later years, due mostly to making our homemade chili. There’s not much to the sandwich once you arrive at the perfect bun and chili. I will make a batch of chili then freeze it in portions for use in later chili dogs. I have even gotten to where I make the hot dog buns and freeze them as well.

The last variable in the quality of the chili dog is the dog itself. Houstonian’s and most Southerners were raised with dogs that are not in casings. They are made and cooked in synthetic casings, then released from the casing and packaged. The dog does not have a “snap” or crispness when you bite them. I am also pretty certain Oscar Mayer and Bryans’ meats had a big portion of the Texas market.

I personally go with the Northeast and love the crisp bite of a Sabrettes hot dog, the kind of dog you get at the Papaya King in Manhatten on E. 86th street. I also like Nathan’s in the natural casings. One of the easiest dogs to come by with natural casing is made by Boar’s Head meats. They are readily available in Houston. That’s what we use, the natural casing all beef frankfurters by Boar’s Head. Delicious! So without further ado, I give you the heartbreakingly wonderful Texas Chili Dog, the national sandwich of Texas!

Authentic Texas Chili Dogs
By Blue Zebra
Yield 8 Chili Dogs

8 Hot Dog Bun
8 Texas Chili
8 Boar’s Head All Beef Frankfurters
Mustard - French’s
1/2 Large Onion
3/4 cup Longhorn Cheese (preferably red rind cheddar), shredded
Relish, Sweet or Dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 450° F
Split hot dog buns but do not separate the top and bottom of the bun.

Apply mustard to both sides of the bun.

Place hot dog into bun and top with chili, cheese and onions. If you use relish, apply relish to bun after the mustard and before the hot dog is inserted.

Bake on foil lined baking sheet for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and chili dogs are piping hot! Serve immediately.

Blue Zebra NOTES:
This is a great dish for chilly Fall evening. We like to serve them with oven fries and corn fresh cut off the cob, topped with a dab of butter. Not a high brow dinner by any means! Just a good old song-of-the-South!


katiez said...

Sounds wonderful! I haven't had a chili dog in ages....also tru of most uniquely American food. Let's see: no chili, no hot dogs, no buns = no chili dogs.
I wonder how they'd be with Duck and Black Olive suasages....

browndog said...

katiez, no hot dogs in Britain? How thoroughly un-American of you...

Blue Zebra, I don't much know from REAL chili, but yours does sound fantastic. In Cincinnati where I grew up they were pretty proud of and had a reputation for chili and chili dogs. I remember the one and only occasion I sampled authentic Cincinnati chili, it was not much more than a huge bowl of ground beef drenched in spicy tomato sauce and grease. My reaction then was similar to yours (not nearly long enough!) The chili dogs were better by a notch, and of course this is a forty year old memory. Could be I'm being unfair.
Also got to get in the habit of making buns, now that I've finally made English Muffins a staple. So worth the effort, and one feels so smug passing by the bun aisle at the grocery store with nary a backward glance.

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

A chili brick?... now that sounds dangerous!
I'll take my dog with slaw please ma'am.

lynn said...

Looks delicious. I'll take my dog with plenty of onions, even if it means sleeping on the couch for the night. :-)

Blue Zebra said...

katiez - so there are no chili dogs derivations outside of the U.S.? That's wild to know! I don't think the chili would go with the duck and black olives, sweetie! :D

browndog - you might be able to use a mixture of tvp and lentils for this recipe? Then maybe add some other type of bean like pintos or red kidney beans! I think the secret is really not so much in the meat as it is in the pure chili puree, you know?

The buns are SOOOOO worth making and yes, you do feel a bit superior about both of them! ;) Actually I feel superior about the English Muffins, homemade buns, AND homemade pitas! ROFL! ;) Good times!

sandi - lol back in my mom & dad's day they used to freeze chili in bricks. I think it's maybe cuz they cooled/froze it in big pans then used a large knife or saw to cut into "brick shapes". Then froze it... I love all kinds of dogs and for a while was so tempted to open a dog house. I love mine with slaw or homemade mock saurkraut!! mmmm!

lynn I hear ya on the onion, missy! I'm lucky that B and I both adore onions but I must say, I'm the one that has trouble with the onion odor following me! *blush*

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

My husband would kill for a dog like yours! The chili I like but the hot dogs leave me cold. I know I am just so bad.

Blue Zebra said...

Hahaha! Tanna, I can only handle 100% beef frankfurters. It's about the only way to make as certain as I can it isn't lips and snouts! :eek: :eek:! And even then, you might not ever know so shhhhh! Please no one tell me! Please! Purty please!

I will let ya know when we're making em again and you can send your hubby to dinner! You and I will have wine instead! ;)

Marc said...

I used to get Texas hots all the time in Rochester, NY, when I was visiting family in the area, but haven't found much in the way of them in the Boston area. Don and Bob's in Brighton, NY (near Rochester) had both white hots and red hots, and they were both really, really good. I miss that place a lot...

kabonfootprint said...

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tina said...

really looks delicious.
i wanna try it.

easy recipes teacher said...

There are quite a lot of versions of Texas chili. Those who grew up with it taste the slightest variation in the recipe.