Hot!Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe

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gschwim
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2004/12/16 00:40:04 (permalink)

Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe

Last I heard, there were over 200 Coney Island hot dog places in my home town of Detroit, and there are at least two companies that sell pre-mixed coney sauce (just add water) to those places that choose not to make their own. Yet, I cannot find, on the Net, a single recipe for the authentic Detroit Coney Sauce. With so many Coney Island places, how can the recipe be such a well-kept secret? I mean, even the Mafia had its stoolies and they had to worry about being killed for talking. (Or does the "Coney Island Mafia" (La Coney Nostra?) have a death penalty, too?

Does anyone have the recipe for the authentic Detroit Coney Island sauce, which, according to the ingredient label on the premix from Koegel Meat Company, includes Beef hearts, beef suet, cracker meal, garlic powder, onion powder and "spices" (which, I assume is actually a combination of two or more spices and is the "secret" no one wants to reveal). Note that there is no tomato paste, sauce, juice, etc. listed in the ingredients. I'm talking about the real thing -- American Coney Island, Lafayette Coney Island. Help!
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    DinoS
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/16 01:32:48 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by gschwim

    Last I heard, there were over 200 Coney Island hot dog places in my home town of Detroit, and there are at least two companies that sell pre-mixed coney sauce (just add water) to those places that choose not to make their own. Yet, I cannot find, on the Net, a single recipe for the authentic Detroit Coney Sauce. With so many Coney Island places, how can the recipe be such a well-kept secret?

    I'm talking about the real thing -- American Coney Island, Lafayette Coney Island. Help!


    gschwim, I hope you find one. I've been looking for years and have collected/made literaly dozens of recipes. You're right, if it has any tomato, it's probably not the one.

    How was that premix from Koegel? Was the other premix company called National Chili in Hamtramck?

    Uncle Vic (a member of these forums) gave me the following recipe, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet.
    __________________________________________
    Original Greek Coney Sauce

    1 pound Ground beef
    1 cup lard
    1 medium Onion(s), diced
    1/3 cup Chili powder
    2 teaspoons Paprika
    1 teaspoon Black pepper, coarsely ground
    1 teaspoon Garlic powder
    1 teaspoon Cumin powder
    1 teaspoon Allspice
    1 teaspoon Basil, dried
    1 teaspoon Salt
    1/2 teaspoon Oregano, dried

    PREPARATION:
    To get the right consistency, cover the meat with water and soak, in the
    fridge, for about 30 minutes. Then take a fork and break up any remaining
    chunks. Drain the water and go on to browning. You will have some water
    while browning but it will slowly steam off.
    Brown beef, onion and shortening.
    Add remaining ingredients.
    Simmer for 2 hours. You may have to add some water.
    This freezes well.
    __________________________________________

    If you make it, let us know how it comes out.


    Dino
    #2
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/16 02:39:19 (permalink)
    Dino,

    I haven't tried the mix from Koegel Meats, but plan to. Here's their site: http://www.koegelmeats.com. Look for the mix under "Specialty." Note also that if you buy a 24-pack of their Vienna hot dogs, you will, on the way to the checkout, that be offered the opportunity to buy some mix for two or three bucks off the regular price.

    I have tried National Chili's mix (and yes, it's in Hamtramck). It was pretty good, though I'm not sure it's identical to American or Lafayette -- but then, I haven't been back to Detroit in probably 15 years, so I could be wrong. Ordering from them is a bit more complicated. You have to call on the phone and speak to someone there (John?), who will give you the details on how to mail them a check and how much to include extra for shipping, which, because the product is perishable, must be by 2-day air. That's what kills you: the high cost of shipping exceeds the price of mix. National sells the mix in 5 lb. "bricks." Usually, I order two. I them into 1-inch "slices", wrap them individually, and keep them in the freezer. Then, every so often, I'll thaw one out, mix it with enough water to get the proper consistencey and heat it up. Just type "National Chili" into Google (it should be the third item down) for the phone numbers and addresses (there are two of each).

    As you can see, this is an expensive proposition, but until someone publishes the recipe, it's the best we can do.
    #3
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/16 08:07:32 (permalink)
    www.askyourneighbor.com/recipes/097.htm
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    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/16 10:25:33 (permalink)
    Thanks, "wandering." I tried that recipe. To me, it did not taste like Lafayette Coney Island. Note the absences, in the recipe, of beef hearts, beef suet or cracker meal.
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    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/17 21:40:18 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by gschwim

    Thanks, "wandering." I tried that recipe. To me, it did not taste like Lafayette Coney Island. Note the absences, in the recipe, of beef hearts, beef suet or cracker meal.


    I've heard of cracker meal being added as a filler in coney sauce, but beef hearts and beef suet?? (They may be using reject all beef hot dogs ground up fine as part of the recipe). Either way, when you find your recipe, make sure you toss it in your crock pot on low and let it simmer 8 or more hours (LID OFF last 3 hours)... Stir it as needed and make sure you add liquid as needed also! Longer you simmer it, the more authentic the taste will become...

    Also, before browing your ground beef or sirloin, if you want a really fine mixture put the meat in a bowl of COLD water for a half an hour or so (in the fridge).. Then drain well in the collander and continue on with your recipe (Excess water in the meat will cook off when browning).
    #6
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/18 01:59:02 (permalink)
    The Flint coney sauce uses ground up hot dogs. The Detroit sauce is something different and definitely uses beef hearts. If you've had it, you definitely know it's not ground beef; the texture is different -- and better (well, at least to us Detroiters and ex-Detroiters). Also, most of the "sauce" recipes I've seen on the Net are mostly ground beef, with just enough water for "flowability," with a consistency of sloppy joes, or I ordered some Gold Star brand Cincinnati chili in cans that was rather thin and soupy; you could use only a little on a hot dog or it would run or drip off. Detroit coney sauce is a true sauce, like a hollandaise sauce, maybe a bit thicker, with bits of meat interspersed. It's very rich and thick and sticks to the hot dog real well and holds a lot of chopped onions on top. Even the way it comes when you order it is different. The other sauces I ordered come in cans, ready made. The Detroit coney sauce I ordered from National Chili in Detroit, came in 5 lb. "bricks," has to be shipped second-day air, is fresh (perishable) and what you don't use within a short time must be frozen. To prepare it, you put the desired amount of mix in a pot and smoosh it up with a spoon while adding water, to the desired consistency. Nothing else I've ordered online -- Wolf's, Gold Star, Rays, etc. -- tastes remotely like it.

    Soaking ground beef in water is an interesting idea, but not "Detroit." You're just converting the ground beef to a pasty consistency. For true Detroit style (or the ground beef approximation) The ground beef "bits" need to retain their texture and be "floating" in a relatively larger quantity of sauce that is thick in it's own right, similar to ground beef in traditional chili with masa flour.

    Having said that, for my own hot dog chili recipe, the way I thicken it is, after the chili has been simmering for an hour or two, I'll stick my "boat motor" hand-held mixer into the pot and puree it to the desired consistency, which is to almost liquify about half of the chili. Another alternative is to put 1/2 or whatever you want into a lender, puree it there and then add it back to the original pot.
    #7
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/18 06:24:10 (permalink)
    Thanks Gschwim.. Now I have to take a couple hours and drive out to Detroit to investigate this sauce! It's been years since I've had a coney from that neck of the woods (I'm on the other side of the state).. I just looked at Americans website ( www.americanconeyisland.com ) but really couldnt get a good eye on the sauce. I've seen National Chili mentioned atleast once in these forums also, but other then that I have'nt really heard of them. Just out of curiosity, what do they get for one of them 5lb bricks? Also, we have a local chain here (atleast a couple of restaurants) called Red Hot Inn. They serve the standard lunch menu, but the only reason I stop in is for their Chili Dogs (Red Hots). Normally I just woof them down while on the road working, but back in October I had a slow day so I parked and ate. I was observing the sauce and it was a much lighter colored then the normal chili around here.. I kept thinking to myself its either because they add tons of lard or flour (or both) to their mix... It's a semi heavy sauce like you described above, that sticks real well to the dog. Though it was a definate ground beef mixture... But now that you have my curiosity peaked, I'll probably end up spending the weekend looking for the answer! I'll report back if I find anything that may be of value.
    #8
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/18 06:41:59 (permalink)
    Just started my Detroit Sauce Snooping and found this... Amazingly they mention beef hearts...

    http://www.chaski.com/wwwboards/food.oct/messages/8972.html

    Posted by Denise on September 21, 2000 at 18:04:04:

    In Reply to: Detroit Coney Sauce posted by Deb on September 16, 2000 at 17:50:18:

    : I am out West for awhile and am missing the terrific Coney Islands we were able to get in the Detroit area. Anyone have a "secret" recipe?

    Deb, Hope your ready for this one. Straight from the Motor City to you. Twenty three years in walking distance to Georges'Famous Coney Island on Michigan Avenue. Of course George did not give up his receipe, but this one is close.

    2 pounds extra lean ground beef
    1 quart water (boiling)
    4 small onions, minced
    4 teaspoons chili powder
    2 small whole red peppers (or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper)
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    4 teaspoons cumin
    5 bay leaves
    1 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
    1 8 ounce can tomato paste

    Add raw beef to boiling water and stir until beef separates to a fine texture. Add remaining ingredients. Stir and simmer uncovered for at least 3 hours. Last hour, pan may be covered after desired consistency is reached. Take out bay leaves and red peppers. Chili can be made in advance and refrigerated in order to lift fat from top before reheating.

    That full bodied flavor in most Detroit Coney chili comes from beef heart. Experiment with different ratios of ground beef to ground beef heart until you find the one you like best.

    ==================================================================

    Here's another one I found using beef heart:

    Original Coney Island Sauce

    1 tablespoon Butter
    1 tablespoon Margarine
    1 1/2 pounds Ground beef
    2 medium Onions, minced
    1 clove Garlic, crushed
    3 tablespoons Chili powder
    1 tablespoon Yellow mustard
    6 ounces Tomato paste
    6 ounces Water
    1 Beef heart, cooked and ground
    4 Hot dogs, ground
    ~ Salt and pepper to taste
    1 tablespoon Sweet pickle relish
    1 tablespoon Green olives, crushed
    Combine all ingredients except hot dogsand cook until thick.

    Do NOT brown the beef first.
    Add the hot dogs and cook 15 minutes longer.
    If the sauce is too thin, add some crumbled soda crackers.

    #9
    seafarer john
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/18 09:18:39 (permalink)
    Vic: Your recipes are getting a lot closer to our Texas Hot sauce or Chili sauce as served here in the NYC Metro area than the ones without any tomato as describerd by other Detroiters. I can't imagine that any of our joints ever put cracker crumbs in for thickening, although I've had some inferior sauces that seemed from their texture to have been thickened with flour. I'm wondering if the "Greeks Secret" that none of us have been able to duplicate at home is in the beef hearts?

    Cheers, John
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    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/19 00:31:28 (permalink)
    Not sure there Seafarer... Never knew they used hearts until yesterday, then started doing some snooping on the subject. I'll stick with beans in the sauce, but out of all fairness, will have to try some of the Heart infused chili also! I might become a changed man!
    #11
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/19 01:36:36 (permalink)
    UncleVic,

    You're going to Detroit for some coneys? I'm jealous!

    The two must-visit places are the Lafayette Coney Island and American Coney Island, both on Lafayette St., downtown. I don't know how it is today, but, at night at least, waiters from each would lounge in their doorway and, in a friendly way, try to entice passersby about to enter their place and not the other. Hopefully, you will be there more than one day -- or for more than one meal on the same day -- so that you can try both places. I don't recall much difference between the two, but I think the Lafayette was my favorite. I have read that there are some people who have always gone to one place and never even entered the other, even though they are next door!

    The standard order is "two up": two dogs with sauce, mustard and chopped, fresh onions -- the "American Special" on the Ameican's Web site menu (http://www.americanconeyisland.com). I see they now have shredded cheese available as an added topping, but that is not traditional -- just mustard, sauce and onions.

    Also , if you have room for it, you should order a bowl of chili, "smothered," no beans. That's a bowl of the sauce, with chopped onions on it. When I was there, they also gave you a little plastic bag of oyster crackers. If you want, they can add ground beef to the chili (the "Chili Special" on the American menu") and/or beans. But I used to order it, "smothered, no beans." Try it that way first. Hopefully, you'll want to come back again and you can try the beans and ground beef if you want.

    Let me know how you like it.
    #12
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/19 03:47:00 (permalink)
    I shall do that! Thanks for the tips on ordering also. The Food Network just had a story on them on their "Best Of" show.. (Weekdays at 1pm est). It was covered in their "Best of Detroit" story (Aired Dec.1), and I see on their website, also on the best of "Street Eats" story. Might want to keep an eye on your TV guide to see when it will come up again...
    #13
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/20 10:56:40 (permalink)
    gschwim, I see above you tried National Chili... I was searching and found another coney sauce maker that seems to be popular in the state (Abbotts). Was wondering if you've heard anything about them?

    Abbotts Meat Inc.
    3623 Blackington Ave
    Flint, MI. 48532
    (810) 232-7128
    #14
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2004/12/20 11:54:52 (permalink)
    UncleVic,

    Yes, I've heard of them. As one might expect given their location, my understanding is that they make "Flint style" coney sauce, which, I think, is different from Detroit style. I think someone (it might have been John Koegel at Koegel Meats (http://www.koegelmeats.com) told me that he referred to Detroit style as a "coney sauce" and Flint style as a "meat topping." I have also heard that one of the ingredients in Flint style is ground up hot dogs, but Detroit style premix, both from Koegel Meats and National Chili, does not list this among their ingredients. Well, maybe I'll order some from Abbott's someday and taste for myself. Thanks for giving me the address.
    #15
    pigface
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2005/01/03 01:36:09 (permalink)
    The Coney (Chili) recipe you seek is from the roadfood member "stogie"
    AKA the BBQ Guru, Kevin Taylor. The link is ...
    www.recipegoldmine.com
    here's the specific recipe ...
    http://www.recipegoldmine.com/bbqguru/kevin4.html
    The only difference I noticed is that his uses shortening,
    where other's I seen uses lovely ol' LARD !
    Something to be said for Using LARD .... Just don't get
    you cholestrol checked for a few weeks
    #16
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2005/01/03 16:51:18 (permalink)
    Thanks, Pigface. I've seen that recipe online before and dismissed it as not being authentic because it lacks the essential ingredients of beef hearts and some kind of binder, usually cracker meal. It looks more like a "meat topping" than a sauce. Detroit coney topping is like a spaghetti meat sauce -- i.e., a viscous gravy with bits of meat in it, but with no tomato taste. On the other hand, this recipe, at least, has no tomato in it. I also am assuming that you have eaten at the American and/or Lafayette Coney Islands and know what their sauce tastes like, and made this recipe and determined that they taste the same. So, I'll give the recipe a try and let you know what I think.
    #17
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2005/01/10 15:39:10 (permalink)
    Gschwim... How do you think they cook the hearts? Boiled, baked, pressure cooked??? Any thoughts?
    #18
    DinoS
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2005/01/10 16:48:39 (permalink)
    Hey Uncle Vic. If your travels ever take you down to Kalamazoo, try the product at:

    Coney Island
    266 E Michigan Ave
    Kalamazoo

    What they serve are what I consider a standard by which I judge all Coneys, and what I'm constantly looking for in a hotdog topping. I would be interested in your opinion if you ever get down there.


    Dino
    #19
    gschwim
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2005/01/10 17:49:10 (permalink)
    UncleVic,

    One of the places you can get the Detroit-style premix is Koegel Meats. According to John Koegel, they melt one of the other ingreidents, beef suet, in a double boliler. And then, "[t]o this we add the ground beef hearts and let them cook."
    #20
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2006/03/08 11:29:37 (permalink)
    Thanks Judy!

    http://littlejudy.blogs.com/littlejudy/food_and_drink/
    #21
    Russ Jackson
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 15:47:34 (permalink)
    In regards to you request I am going to give the recipe for authentic Detroit Coney Sauce. I will also give the proper way to serve it.
    First the proper Dog.
    Never use a budget dog.
    Whenever possible use in this order Koegle, Dearborn, Sabrett,Kowalski,or Boars Head. All with Natural casing!!!!
    Dogs must be grilled on a griddle or a cast iron skillet on medium low with a small ammount of butter and vegetable oil. Constant turning of dogs is a must and they must never split open. You will be looking for a consistant light brown color with a darker line of brown on 2 sides.If dogs are straight they can be rolled back and forth regularily to insure even cooking with a large hamburger flipper. If curved use kitchen tongs and adjust next to the other dogs. NEVER BOIL A HOTDOG! And hot Dogs can be removed from grill using a fork with the center tines removed usnig a dremel tool with cutting blade leaving only the two outside tines remaining.The only onion to use is a large very white one. It must be chopped very fine to the point that if it was any smaller it would be a liquid. This is imperative as an onion has a different taste when chopped larger. Onion particles will be about 1/8 inch square.

    In a very large preheated pot with 1 cup of lard simmer 5 lbs of ground round and 1/2 lb cow heart ground fine on medium heat until it seperates and turns just brown. This mixture must be stirred recularly and mashed during process to create a kind of rough paste.
    In a cast iron skillet put 6 tablespoons of butter and melt it then add 6 tablespoons of flour and make a light brown roux and set aside. Cut 3 tomatoes in half and roast in a 450 degree oven with a little vegatable oil on top until completely cooked and starting to turn into mush with a slight browning taking place. Set these aside.Add 32 ounces of chicken stock to meat simmer for 20 minutes at a slight boil then add roux, cooked tomatoes, 3 tablespoons chili powder,4 table spoons paprika,1/3 cup plochmans yellow mustard,2 tablespoons tumeric, 2 tablespoons cumin powder, 1 tablespoon garlic powder not salt,and 1 tablespoon onion powder. Simmer this down to the proper consistancy.
    Steaming buns is the best way in a home enviorment a chinese steamer basket works well or you can wrap them in paper towells and microwave 3 at a time on high for about 20 seconds. Open bun place dog spread slightly thinned yellow mustard over dog. Cover with Coney sauce then top with onions. Additional mustard may be added however cheese or KETCHUP is never allowed lets leave that to the people in ohio ok.

    #22
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 15:52:53 (permalink)
    Russ: for your first post, you were very complete and it sounds like you know what you are talking about.

    Paul E. Smith
    knoxville, TN
    #23
    Russ Jackson
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 16:08:28 (permalink)
    I have made a huge mistake in the recipe please note that i have asked for 1 complete cow heart i meant to put 1/2 pound of cow heart sorry about the typo. Have a great day and enjoy
    #24
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 16:12:19 (permalink)
    Good looking out Russ! A true Motor City man who knows his sauce... (even if you are from Ohio)..


    #25
    Russ Jackson
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 16:15:20 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by UncleVic

    Good looking out Russ! A true Motor City man who knows his sauce... (even if you are from Ohio)..



    I grew up in Livonia eating the best coneys and hamburgers served at Bates and Millers still I consider these to be the best in the country.
    #26
    UncleVic
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 18:45:15 (permalink)
    Good deal Russ... I didn't want to speak my thoughts (foot into mouth syndrome) but if you get a chance, post some pics of them good chili dogs you cross paths with... Along with all the input of your finds.. I made a post in the News Forum (search it), for instructions on how to post pics here.. I plan on doing a travel here around West Michigan (with my cheap little Canon A550) to document some of the best eats here... I've been lucky via Roadfood to have locals contact me on some must eats... Several emails, now just to sample out the goods to see if they where worthy....





    #27
    pigface
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2007/11/28 19:35:42 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Russ Jackson

    . Additional mustard may be added however cheese or KETCHUP is never allowed lets leave that to the people in ohio ok.




    Very Nice recipe ... Bate's 5 mile & Farmington, Millers on Michigan in Dearborn,
    No Mention of Mason's at Farmington & Schoolcraft
    #28
    kiop
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2008/05/16 19:14:21 (permalink)
    Hello.. I just tried Russ' recipe for Detroit Coney Sauce and made the following exceptions - I didn't use beef heart because I couldn't find it - and I cut the recipe proportionally down to use 1-lb ground beef. I have to say - it is so close to the real deal its not even funny! The flavor and consistency were right on, though I'm sure by using the heart it would have been perfect! But I am quite satisfied with the results as I have made it and will be doing coneys this way from now on - being a former Detroiter, transplanted to Tampa Bay.. gotta get my fix in once in a while.. I encourage all to try Russ' recipe, I am sure you will enjoy and agree this is THE classic flavor we all love!
    #29
    Russ Jackson
    Double Chili Cheeseburger
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    RE: Seeking Authentic Detroit Coney Sauce Recipe 2008/05/17 11:28:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by kiop

    Hello.. I just tried Russ' recipe for Detroit Coney Sauce and made the following exceptions - I didn't use beef heart because I couldn't find it - and I cut the recipe proportionally down to use 1-lb ground beef. I have to say - it is so close to the real deal its not even funny! The flavor and consistency were right on, though I'm sure by using the heart it would have been perfect! But I am quite satisfied with the results as I have made it and will be doing coneys this way from now on - being a former Detroiter, transplanted to Tampa Bay.. gotta get my fix in once in a while.. I encourage all to try Russ' recipe, I am sure you will enjoy and agree this is THE classic flavor we all love!



    Glad you enjoyed it. That recipe took a very long time to duplicate. Alot of homework and trial and error. The Cow heart gives the sauce that flavor you might be missing. The taste of cow heart is unmistakable. try adding a little next time you make it. Also it is better when you make the full ammount. It also feeezes well. I hope others try it. You could make a good living serving Hot Dogs with that Coney Sauce...Russ
    #30
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