Coney Dogs Take 5 – Ugh

Cook Date: October 15, 2022

Last June for Father’s Day my two sons planned to take me to Roakes here in Portland. Unfortunately most of us were sick with COVID (we dodged it for two and half years) so we postponed the trip. For the next few months one of us was either sick or busy. So my unrequited love of Coney Dogs was in the back of my mind for months.

Carla was out of town with her sisters (she’s way too smart to try any of my attempts at this recipe) and that old urge to make my own Coneys bubbled up. If I had any sense I’d give up. But no! After four failures to make tasty Coney’s at home I searched, compiled notes, and came up with a recipe and technique I’d hope would provide the long elusive goal on my 5th try.

The ingredients look good.

Ingredients for Take 5 Coney Dogs

Chop and measure…

Coney Dog ingredients ready for the pan

One technique I knew I’d do to get a very fine texture was to mix everything together at the beginning – as opposed to sautéing the onions, then adding the spices, then the meat.

Everyone in the pool!

But we need to add some water and mix it all up thoroughly.

Mix the ingredients.

Notice the large, wide tines on the mixer. I used this technique once using a whisk; the meat turned into strands that wrap around each individual wire of the whisk. Blech. Using the mixer was a great improvement.

Then we cook it down.

Cooking down the mixture

And continue cooking it down; just as you would with chili

Most of the liquid is gone after more simmering

If you are having Coneys you need some hot dogs. Olympic Provisions in the Portland area are the best. Simmer for a bit in a tad of water, then sauté to get them brown.

Olympic Provision hot dogs are the Portland gold standard

Microwave a couple of buns (blasphemy! I’m using whole wheat buns here). Spread some CYM (Classic Yellow Mustard) on the bun and nestle the dogs in the buns.

Coney dog base layer: bun, CYM, hot dog

Add the chili, top it all with chopped white onions and some grated cheddar cheese and dig in.

Coney Chili dogs ready to eat

Even with Carla gone, I included a salad. Yeah, I’ve been married for a lot of years.

Rating: ★★ 2 Stars

So what was wrong? First, it was way off from my mind’s eye target; nothing close to the Roakes Coney Dog experience. Even with the technique of cooking it all together with some water, the resulting texture was too grainy. I may have cooked it down too long because it was too dry. It might have been better to use it after than 1st picture of the simmering. Finally, it was too sweet: just too much ketchup and brown sugar. I’m not a fan of mixing sweet and savory: I really don’t like Boston Baked Beans because of all the sweet. Friends and family think I’m nuts for my dislike of BBB.

Nevertheless I may have come up with something based on this experience. I think I’ll try to make a hamburger chili by adapting my El Cid Chili recipe. And I may not throw it on top of hot dogs. We’ll see.

I was so frustrated, that 4 days later when I was out taking train pictures I stopped at a Roakes up in north Portland. This is what a Coney Dog is supposed to look like.

A True Roake’s Coney with a side of fries covered in Coney Sauce.

I realized my attempts have had way, way too much meat on them. We lost the Roakes (renamed Annies) that was just a few miles from our house. But when I want a true Coney Dog, I’ll drive the 45 minutes to an hour to get the right thing. Oh, in December or January, my boys, grandsons, and I finally made it to Roakes in Milwaukie Oregon for the Father’s Day treat.

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