Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recipe: Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

So this Zen guy goes up to a hot dog vendor and he says, "Hey, make me one with everything!" Come on, laugh! It's funny! I suppose you are one of the unbelievers and you doubt the "Be here now" Zen aspects of the hot dog? Many people can link certain foods they enjoy back to certain moments in their life. None do this as much for me as the hot dog.

I remember a rainy night of fishing in Newport, Rhode Island as a young child with my dad and grandfather. It was fruitless but it was capped with a late night stop at the King Phillip Diner in Fall River, MA. Several dogs with the works, a coffee milk and not one, but two pieces of blueberry pie. I also remember my dad returning from bowling on Friday nights with a dozen for my sisters, my mom and myself to share. These would be the first of my late night hot dogs. Later on however late night hot dogs usually came/come after copious amounts alcohol!

Then there's the one I had outside in the cool air after a night of dancing in a hot night club in Ponta Delgada, Azores. It had all manner of toppings including tiny french fries! Wait, then there are the ones I have had at that shrine to Americana, Fenway Park while watching the Boston Red Sox win the world series! (Remember when that was just a dream? GO SOX!). Sure, I can't remember every hot dog I have had, but why can I remember so many?

I was introduced to the local variety Coney Island hot dog by my dad. It was long enough ago where I can't remember it (peculiar), but I'm sure it was because him and my mom were arguing, because that's how I got to see Planet of the Apes (which by the way, ended up with us getting hot dogs at Nick's Coney Island in Fall River, Massachusetts. I think I also got a fish at a pet store that day, fight on parents, fight on!).

Anyway, my dad is a kickass cook and he makes one helluva good hot dog sauce. Unfortunately, he does it a little differently each time and never writes much of it down, but this is his basic recipe. I always make a surplus and freeze servings in zip lock bags.

Says Pop, "Don't be afraid to use more onions or cumin."

Says I, "Don't be afraid to write it all down old man!"

Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

1-1/4 lbs of lean ground beef
2 cups of water
2 shakes of ketchup
2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup of onion (minced)
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp prepared mustard
3 tsp of chili powder

Place the hamburger in a heavy skillet. Add water and remaining ingredients.

Stir mixture as you bring it to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and maintain simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

If sauce becomes too dry, add a little water.

The finished consistency should be like thickish chili.

Add a cooked hot dog to a steamed bun, add mustard, coney island sauce, chopped onions and a sprinkle of celery salt.

Dad's Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce by Henry Krauzyk from Chop Onions, Boil Water


  1. Thanks for the walk back to the old days of our youth. I am going to whip up a batch of the "sauce" for a family reunion and also send a copy of this recipe to family in California. By the way there are still some great "gaggers" sold in Fall River Mass, and they are as good as ever!
    a Fall River Girl

  2. Oh yeah, there are all the old haunts and even some new Coney Island joints in the area. I believe the newest one is called "Cool Dogs" on Stafford Road. I wish they weren't so secretive regarding their recipes!

  3. thanks so much for this but I have a friend that has the recipe and she uses lard instead of water I know sounds gross but it comes out really good and don't stir use a potatoe masher or ricer instead while cooking

  4. I've seen several recipes that use lard, but for health reasons I don't use it. As I said this was my dad's recipe and that is important to me. As for "the" recipe? I don't think there is one but many. We each patronize the dog houses we like the best and for those who make their own sauce, we make what we like the best.

  5. Henry, with a couple of minor changes, you described my childhood too. There was nothing better than the surprise of getting those late night gaggers after my dad's bowling night. Remember all those different duck pin lanes in the city?
    "Be Here Now", the best way to enjoy "one with everything". Can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks man.