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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Michigan Dogs

This is adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe.  I don't know why she calls them Michigan Dogs...they're chili cheese hot dogs to me, and I suppose some people call this combination of toppings a Coney Dog?  The folks I know from Michigan certainly don't know what Michigan Dogs are.

I like that the cheese sauce and chili sauce can be made ahead (and even frozen), and the kiddos can opt out of toppings and just have plain dogs if they want.  Leftover chili and cheese sauce make excellent breakfast burritos by the way.

There's a lot of liquid that goes into the chili sauce and it needs to boil down to make a nice, thick, rich chili sauce.  Your choice of pot will significantly affect how long it takes for this to happen.  A tall, narrow pot will take longer whereas a shallow, wide pot will allow water to boil off much more quickly.

I used dehydrated (i.e. sun-dried) tomatoes instead of the tomato paste the OR calls for.  I finely minced them and used the same amount called for in Rachael Ray's recipe.

When it comes to the cheese sauce, I recommend using cornstarch instead of flour.  It makes a smoother sauce, it's gluten-free and thickens more strongly than flour.  I also add the mustard after the milk but before the cheese...once the cheese is in there, it's really difficult to mix in the mustard evenly.  Use whatever cheese you want here...I had a chunk of white cheddar and some parmesan leftover from another recipe that used up here.  Sharp cheddar, colby, even American cheese makes delicious cheese sauce.  I do not recommend using Dijon mustard...did that once and it was just too, too much.  If you really want to use Dijon, I'd use 1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup.  I just stick to plain ol' French's.

One of my favorite tips from Rachael's recipe is to split the hot dogs down the middle before grilling/frying them.  They lay better in your bun (I prefer hot dog-sized lengths of French bread) and make a better "bed" for all the toppings.

Chili Sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb. ground beef
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp tomato paste or finely minced sun-dried tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef stock

Brown the beef in the oil over medium-high heat.  Stir in spices and tomato paste/dry tomatoes and saute 1-2 minutes.  Add stock and simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Freeze or fridge if desired.  To reheat for later, heat over medium, stirring well or zap it in the microwave a minute or two.

Cheese Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow mustard
1 cup shredded cheese
pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium and whisk in cornstarch.  Cook 1-2 minutes.  Whisk milk in slowly.  Simmer over medium heat about 5 minutes.  Whisk in mustard, then add cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted.  Season with pepper. Fridge or freeze if desired.  To reheat later, warm in a pot over medium heat while whisking.

Hot Dogs & Buns
Makes 8 hot dogs

8 hot dogs
2 baguettes

Split hot dogs lengthwise.  Fry or grill 4-5 minutes until heated through.  Cut each baguette into 4 pieces and split lengthwise.  Put a hot dog and desired toppings on each piece of baguette.

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