I have enjoyed living in California and all the diverse cuisine it has to offer. But one thing I miss about Michigan is having a good Coney hot dog.
Depending on what region of Michigan you travel through, a Coney can be topped with chopped white onions, yellow mustard, and crumbled, loose beef heart or a thinner, beanless chili sauce. I like both, but my favorite is the latter Detroit-style Coney.
So when my friend Bill sent me the recipe for my favorite Coney spot — Lafayette Coney Island in downtown Detroit — I was ecstatic. Although I was skeptical that the recipe could emulate the original deliciousness that I remembered as a kid, I had to attempt to make it.
The Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe published on askyourneighbor.com has two versions, but the second, updated version is an easier shortcut:
2 cans (11 ounces each) of beef chili soup (beanless); 12 ounces of V8 tomato juice; 1 envelope of taco seasoning mix; 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish; and 2 tablespoons of dried chopped onion.
I mixed the ingredients into a sauce pan and placed it on medium heat on the stove for about 10-15 minutes, until it simmered. Along with those ingredients, I also bought an 8-pack of hot dogs, buns, a large white onion and a bottle of yellow mustard.
I know Coney connoisseurs will frown on this, but I couldn’t find the Koegel Vienna hot dogs! Nothing beats that crunch of the natural casing when you bite into a Koegel hot dog. But I settled for Ball Park franks.
Altogether with tax, my bill came out to about $24. The cost could be more or less depending on where you shop and what specific brands you prefer. Considering I was cooking for three people, the meal came out to $8 per person, which is less than what you would spend at a diner out here in Silicon Valley.
I was amazed by the taste and how similar it was to that of Lafayette Coney Island. It had the same kicking spice (not burn-your-mouth spice), savoriness and soupy texture that I remember.
Nothing can beat the original, but this recipe comes close. My stepmom, who never had a Coney before, was dancing as she was eating one, so I know that the meal turned out well.
About the Coney Dog
A lot of people think the Coney was created on Coney Island, New York, but the dish really got its start in Michigan, according to the Detroit Historical Society. There is still debate among historians and Coney lovers about where in Michigan it originated. American Coney Island in Detroit, Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit and Todoroff’s Original Coney Island in Jackson each claim to be the Coney’s birthplace, according to DHS.
The book “Coney Detroit,” written by Katherine Yung and Joe Grimm, investigates the history of how Detroit became the global capital of the Coney Island Hot Dog. The regional favorite was created by Greek immigrants in the early 1900s and is served by hundreds of restaurants today, according to the book.
The Coney’s history and traditions have been documented by many news outlets, including National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Crain’s Detroit and MLive Media Group. For more history of the Coney, visit ConeyDetroit.com. Also, click here to try out the Lafayette Coney Island Sauce recipe for yourself.