Jan and I were reminiscing about chili dogs the other day. Jan used to live only a mile away from Angelo’s in Fresno—a victim of eminent domain for the high speed rail—and in her mind the home of the ultimate chili dog. Eilene decided that she wanted chili dogs for her birthday meal—19 as of yesterday.
Driving three hours to a place that does not exist anymore was not an option, so I would have to make my own. Since I am not one to grab a can of chili and store bought buns—especially for a birthday—I decided to start from scratch. I cannot make my own hot dogs, so I chose Hebrew National. That decision led me to challah as the obvious choice for the buns.
Generally, the chili for chili dogs is without beans, just beef and chili sauce. Again, I could have used a premixed chili powder, but I wanted to make it special for Eilene. There is more than just powdered chili in chili powder. At the very least, oregano, cumin and black pepper are common additions. Where you go after that is up to your own taste judgments.
For a quick chili, you can just fry the beef, throw in the sauce and serve, but a slow simmer greatly enhances the flavor. Plan ahead and try to let the chili cook for at least one hour. The final chili should also not be runny, so a touch of cornstarch at the end of the cooking time keeps the sauce on the dogs.
When Miriam heard about Jan’s Challahpeños, she wanted me to make them this weekend. Since I was already making challah buns, it was easy to use half of the batch of dough to make some. As a veg, Eilene requested carrot salad and some kind of green thing, lightly pickled carrots and fresh spinach salad seemed to fit the bill. Finally, for desert Jan made strawberry mousse.
Karl’s Chili Dogs
1-2 challah hot dog buns per person
1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
¼ cup jalapeños pepper, finely diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. commercial chili powder OR
Karl’s Chili Powder
1 tsp. Ancho chili powder
½ tsp. Guajillo chile powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
½ tsp. Mexican oregano, dried
½ tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. Colman’s dry yellow mustard
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. coriander seeds
pinch celery seed
2 Tbs. tomato paste
12 oz. beer
½ tsp. corn starch
1-2 hot dogs per person
Hot dog buns
1. At least 6 hours before dinner, start making the dough for the challah buns.
2. Divide the dough into bun portions (about half a cup each).
3. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out into a rectangle (about 5×7 inches). Roll the dough up into a 7 inch log and pinch along the seam and tuck the ends under.
4. Lay the buns, seam side down on a baking sheet and brush each with the egg wash.
5. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes at 350º F, until golden brown.
6. Cool on a wire rack and then partly slice through the rolls to receive the hot dog and chili.
Note: To make the chili powder, add all of the ingredients to a spice blender and process to a coarse powder.
7. In a large skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in one tablespoon of olive oil. When done remove the beef to a bowl.
8. Without cleaning the pan, sauté the onions until they are starting to pick up some color.
9. Reduce the heat to medium high. Add the jalapeños and garlic and continue cooking for one minute more.
10. Add the chili powder to the pan and continue cooking until the spices are fragrant, about one minute more.
11. Reduce the Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until the tomato paste has taken on a dark color, two to four minutes.
12. Add the beer and return the beef to the pan. Simmer covered for at least one hour for best results, but you may use the sauce after only a few minutes of cooking.
13. Just before serving, mix the corn starch with a tablespoon of cold water and stir it into the pan.
14. Transfer to a serving bowl.
15. Butterfly the hot dogs by slicing most of the way through them and flattening them out.
16. Grill or broil the hot dogs until lightly charred.
17. Lay out the buns, hot dogs, chili and your favorite toppings.
18. Diners open the buns, add the hot dog, chili and toppings as it pleases them.