Sunday, October 7, 2012

Football Recipe Corner, Chili Dogs or Virginia is for Hotdog Lovers

So last fall I wrote about how Williamsburg, Virginia is one place that forever will represent Christmas time. But Virginia in general will forever be for me the state where I first lived in four seasons and learned to love them. Before that my family had always lived in warmer climes. Being about 10 when we moved to a wintery place for the first time it was quite a revelation. I attended high school in the suburbs of Washington DC. and when I went away to college it was to James Madison University. A school of about 4000 students at the time, JMU sits in the middle of the Shenandoah Valley in a small hamlet called Harrisonburg. No longer small, the school and the town have grown up quite a bit. But when I was there it was still very rural and very redneck. In fact I was surprised by how conservative the school and the student body was upon arrival there. It was certainly not what I had expected a university to be like. I had thought it would be very Brideshead Revisited but JMU was more like Frat City than Oxford. Frats, Beer, "fraternizing", and of course Football were all high on the agenda. Well that and tailgating, which was sort of one and the same. And tailgating meant tailgating food!

Fall of course also meant the beginning of the school year and so during the first semester I enjoyed the fall leaves changing around me and in the Mountains above us. Signaling natures shift into the colder part of the year. And of course at JMU, that same climate change meant Football Season!! Now tailgating  and eating was big and great for the pre-game, but for those who wanted something after the game there were only a few options.

Back then Harrisonburg was a small town and as such the local eateries were mostly well...local. That was good because that meant that the big chains had not yet moved in yet. But after the game you want something that you can eat that says grilled goodness and comfort ya'll! And I mean what says football season and fall more than a chili cheese dog! Well that and it's also good for soaking up all that beer you had during the game. I had come to college knowing a thing or two about chili cheese dogs from places in Virginia near my home. But my college experience gave me the third establishment in the trinity that shaped my hotdog chili cheese making recipe. Let me tell you about those places.

The one college place that really to this day will not be rivaled for fall football loving, beer soaking up, after frat party Friday night food is Jess' Quick Lunch, a chili dog place. For atmosphere alone it was amazing, formica floors and countertops, bright florescent lights, stainless steel fixtures and the chili dogs which were grilled came unadorned except for the ketchup and onions. They were good and quick and greasy in the best way. But they were the second chili dog I had had in Virginia. The first of my adventures in Chili dogging came from the very famous Vienna Inn in the northern Virginian town of Vienna, Virginia.

                                             Jess's QuicK Lunch

Now the Vienna Inn makes the most amazing chili cheese dogs on the planet, no....really. And it was my brother Chris who turned me onto them. he worked down the street at a very famous camera shop called what else, Vienna Camera. Well the employees would get lunch at the Inn regularly. He called them "Death Dogs", and we called them good!

As it states on the Inn's website:

Opened in 1960, the Vienna Inn is a staple in the heart of Vienna, Virginia. Youthful placemat art on the walls and teeming trophy shelves demonstrate the family-friendly nature of the establishment.
The menu also has something for everyone. Seafood lovers will enjoy the spiced shrimp or the blackened tuna sandwich and those looking for something lighter can find nourishment in the grilled chicken salad.
It is chilli macs and chilli dogs that the Inn is most famous for - and rightly so. Selling over 10,000 chilli dogs every month you would be remiss to pass up a loaded dog, complete with chili, cheese, spicy mustard and diced onion.
The Vienna Inn's unrefined charm has made it a steadfast landmark that may grow older, but has not aged a day.

Yes the Vienna Inn has amazing Chili Dogs. But there is one more American hotdog dining icon that I encountered in Virginia and remains to be discussed and has formulated my way of making hotdogs and that icon is LUMS.
Now LUMS was a chain which grew out of south Florida and expanded all over the country. They were most famous for the Ollie Burger, which many proclaim to this day as one of the best burgers ever made. And they were known for their Hotdogs which were slow cooked and held warm in beer, a nod to the midwestern manner for preparing brats. They were also famous because they were one of the first "family restuarants" to serve alcohol. I can remember getting a "Schooner" of beer at LUMS across the way from the Magic Pan when I was 18 years old. 

So that brings us to making tailgating dogs today the Ole Virginny way! The way I learned to make them based on the techniques of the three establishments that I encountered in the great state of Virginia as a young man. I have merged the preparations to come up with Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog. So clearly the chili is what makes a great chili dog and have I got a great recipe for that. Check this one out. Enjoy, Ya'll!

Forrest's Ultimate Chili Cheese Dog (based on three Virginia Hotdog Icons)

Forrest's Hot dog Chili: ( this is no joke ya'll ) 

3 tablespoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon allspice powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Butter
1 large onion finely minced ( food processor minced)
2 gloved minced garlic ( I use the jar )
1 1/2 pounds ground beef ( Chuck )
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 4 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups water

In a bowl combine all the spices
In a pot add the butter and onions and cook over medium heat till translucent add garlic and let bloom
The to this pot add the spices and let cook with the onions and garlic to bring out the flavors but don't burn. Then to this pot add all your wet ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil for 2 to 3 mins.
Reduce heat down to a simmer and add the beef with your hands breaking it up into bits
Stir and let cook down for an hour with a lid on. Stir occasionally and then check for seasoning. Then remove the lid and simmer down till most of the liquid is gone but the chili is till nice and moist. 

For the hot dogs

You will need
1 package all beef hotdogs
1 package Hotdog Buns ( nice quality maybe potato rolls )
2 cans of lager beer
2 cups water
1 large white onion
8 oz finely shredded yellow sharp cheddar cheese
Spicy brown mustard

Take a stock pot and pour water and the 2 cans of lager beer into it. The cheaper the better. Add 1/2 of an onion that has been cut in half, chop the other half for topping the hotdogs. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer. Place 1 package of good quality all beef hotdogs in the pot and let simmer for about an hour while the chili is cooking. When ready to serve  you can grill the dogs in a pan or on the grill again to crisp or serve right out of the beer broth. Your choice.

Serve the dogs as such:

Take a Bun open it up on the bottom give it a squirt of spicy brown mustard and a squirt of Mayo
Add the Hotdog
Top with the chili
Top with chopped onions ( white )
Top with the cheese
Serve and enjoy!

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