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!
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