New Year’s Eve Menu

‘Angelo’s’ Coney Island Hot Dogs

‘Cokes’ in Glass Bottles

Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread

December 31, 2008) Our family New Year’s Eve tradition included ‘Monopoly’, (Hasbro’s wheeler dealer game of greed), Angelo’s Coney Island Hot Dogs (the iconic Flint fast food), and cold ‘Cokes’ (in 6.5 ounce green glass bottles shaped like hobble skirts).

My father and multiple brothers took ‘Monopoly’ very seriously. Their shared goal was to win by bankrupting everyone else. The most important thing to me was choosing my favorite token (the iron, thimble, or wheelbarrow).

I had little interest in dice, deals, or deeds. I collected colored properties in the hopes of creating a rainbow. There was little incentive to erect identical green houses or trade them in for matching red hotels; besides, they were all plastic and boring. I freely ‘gave’ cash to anyone who needed it and waived the rent as needed.

Everyone ended up hating me but everyone loved the menu. My dad left halfway through the game to go out and get the coneys. They were rolled in deli tissue and packed into Kogel’s white, red, and green Vienna hot dog boxes. Everyone was expected to eat three.

The gaseous beverage combined with the spicy ‘mystery meat’ coney sauce, ballpark mustard, and mounds of finely minced sweet Bermuda onions were the perfect recipe for a big belch.

Decades later, with a family of my own, I added the dark, moist, and lusty Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread served with hot tea. It was the perfect accompaniment to the manly menu and ruthless board game.

‘Angelo’s’ Coney Island Hot Dogs

Cook’s notes: The original hot dogs used by Angelo’s Coney Island were (and are) Natural Casing Vienna Hot Dogs made by Koegle’s Meats in Flint Michigan. The hot dogs were slowly cooked on a grill.

 Make it your own: In Cincinnati, I prefer Old-Fashioned Natural Casing Frankfurters made by Avril-Bleh & Sons Meat Market. I drop the hot dogs in a pot of boiling water, cover, turn off the heat, and allow them to reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce (see recipe below)

Natural Casing Hot Dogs, cooked on a griddle or simmered in water.

Finely chopped Sweet Onions

Yellow Mustard

Hot Dog Buns, steamed.

Note: Buns can be steamed using a bamboo steamer placed over a wok with a small amount of water. You can also use a steamer rack placed inside a covered skillet.

When serving a crowd, set a cooling rack over a baking sheet, pour boiling water into the baking sheet. Use another baking sheet as a cover and transfer the pans to a 400-degree oven. A sheet of foil can be used instead of the second baking sheet.

Coney Island Hot Dog Sauce

Makes enough for 12+ coneys

 Cook’s notes: Every Coney Island restaurant has their own ‘secret recipe’. This sauce is my ‘made from memory’ version of the one used at Angelo’s Coney Island in Flint, Michigan. Ground beef is not a suitable substitute for the heart; but beef tongue is. Remove and discard the skin on the tongue before grinding the meat. Use beef suet for the fat.

2 pounds Beef Heart

Trim the fat from the hearts and cut into cubes. Cut the heart into cubes.

Double grind the fat in a grinder and set aside. Double grind the heart and set aside.

Use a ratio of 75% heart meat and 25% heart fat for the sauce; that is 1½ pounds heart to ½ pound fat.

Note: I use the grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer. A hand grinder, that clamps to the counter, also works. If you don’t have a grinder ask your butcher to grind the meat and the fat.

Spice Mix:

¼ cup ground Cumin

¼ cup Sweet Paprika

1 tablespoon Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Garlic Powder

4 teaspoons Greek Oregano

1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper

2 teaspoons Salt

2 quarts (8 cups) Water

Melt the heart fat in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. When the fat has melted add the spices and cook for several minutes. Add the ground heart and cook the mixture for several minutes until the ingredients are combined.

Add enough of the water to cover the mixture by at least 2 inches. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until some of the liquid has evaporated leaving an inch of liquid on top; about 2 hours.

Cool the sauce to room temperature, transfer it to a container, and chill it in the refrigerator.

After the sauce has chilled, remove the hardened fat from the top.

Transfer the sauce to a pan and cook until all the liquid has evaporated; stir occasionally. The mixture should be dry and crumbly.

Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Pear Upside-down Gingerbread (December 21, 2016)