One of the most famous street foods of the United States, classic hot dog has become a staple food and a gastro-cultural phenomenon. It has a more complex version, Coney Island hot dog which is filled not only with a juicy sausage but a rich, hearty beef ragout.
What is the origin of hot dog?
There are a number of stories about how the hot dog came into existence but its German origin is a sure thing. With the arrival of European immigrants through Ellis Island, New York City, their traditional food has also come along and quickly found its place among working class people.
Pork meat based Frankfurter was certainly destined to success, which was traditionally served with bread and mustard back in the German beer gardens, but as a New World street food, it required a bun to absorb all the juices, not to mention to hold together the various components.
The first place selling hot dog is related to a German immigrant Charles Feltman, a baker who sold pies in his Brooklyn shop. After a while, by the inquiry of his customers, he recognized the huge opportunity at providing warm food on the street and quickly brought to life the first hot dog cart which started operating at Coney Island in 1867.
Hot dog, the ultimate street food
It has been the ultimate food on the go on the streets of the Big Apple, and then quickly spread throughout the whole country for only a period of a few decades. Hence quickly became the iconic meal of different sport events and inseparable element of baseball games. Other similar dishes can be found in American cuisine such as corn dog, cornmeal covered sausage meat, deep-fried on a wooden stick and pigs in a blanket, a sausage filled puff pastry originates from the UK but other variants can be found in Russian, even Japanese cuisine.
Why is Coney Island called hot dog?
Hot is obvious, as it comes in a steam heated bun. Rumor has it the sausage contained dog meat in Germany, in the early 1900s when they were short on pork, hence calling the sausage a dog became common. And the accusations were often proved right.
What is the origin of the Coney Island hot dog?
The hot dogs got so successful on the streets, that finally many entrepreneurs built whole businesses on them and Coney Island became a sort of a diner style restaurant, well known at the Northern regions of the US, principally in Detroit, Michigan.
Classic hot dogs are made with wiener or frankfurter style sausages, depending on the combination of meat. Frankfurter is made solely with pork, while wiener is made with a mix of pork and beef.
The sausage is steamed or grilled, then encased in a partly slit, freshly steamed bun. Topped with mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, sauerkraut or coleslaw and in newer versions fried onion, jalapeño, even cheese sauce. Though in the Coney Island version, the sausage is covered with a savory beef ragout, and then sprinkled with raw, diced or thinly sliced onion, grated Cheddar cheese, and sweet mustard for a fresh, crunchy finish.
The beef ragout
As a food with Mediterranean origins, it is based on olive oil which adds a slightly bitter tang to the sweetish beef meat. Garlic, tomato and cumin add complexity but not too much spiciness. However, if we would like it to be spicier, some chili can be added according to your taste.
There are versions made with beef stock, others with beer, Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkling of brown sugar. Corn flour is necessary to provide a thicker sauce, so it doesn’t ooze out so easily from the bun. It’s worth making a bigger pot of ragout in advance and freeze the rest in family-sized portions, so it can be a really quick dinner, ready in 15 minutes.
- 1 scallion chopped
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 10 oz. ground beef
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup beef broth
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water
- 4 hot dog sausages
- 1 onion very thinly sliced
- 4 hot dog buns
- 4 tablespoons sweet mustard
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic for 1 minute.
- Add the meat and fry for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Then add the tomato paste, beef broth, cumin and brown sugar. Mix well.
- Add the mixture of cornflour and water, and mix well for about 3 minutes over low heat until the sauce is thick. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- In a saucepan, poach the sausages in boiling water. Set aside.
- Slice the hot dog buns, spread mustard, place 1 drained sausage and cover with hot chili sauce.
- Sprinkle with some slices of onion and grated cheddar cheese.
- Place the hot dogs on the oven rack for 5 minutes before serving.