My parents grew up in West Virginia. My grandparents were lifelong residents. I spent countless summer days visiting family in West Virginia. I even lived there for a very short while before graduating from Marshall University (We are Marshall!). It is, more so than Kentucky, the place I think of as "home".
But West Virginia is more than rolling hills and hillbilly accents. It actually has a unique culinary tradition. And among the things that West Virginia is famous for are her hot dogs. West Virginia style hot dogs are always all-beef dogs. They differ from hot dogs further south and to the northeast. West Virginia lies above the "slaw line". That is that hot dogs, and more often than not, pork bbq sandwiches are topped with a generous helping of mayonnaise-based cole slaw.
In my opinion, the only way to truly enjoy a hot dog is to prepare it boiled, in a steamed bun, with mustard, finely diced onions, a heaping helping of hot dog sauce and topped with a creamy slathering of cole slaw.
The hot dog sauce I remember from my youth can't be purchased at the grocery. It is not chili sauce (even though it does have chili powder in it). It does not have beans. There are canned varieties--which are NOT the same--but after the Castleberry botulism debacle of 2007, I don't know of anyone who will try them. West Virignia-style sauce is a mild, tomato based meat sauce, and you can find numerous awesome classic examples from Fairmont to Huntington. I admit that some of my favorites are Stewart's Original Hot Dogs in Huntington, WV, and Sam's Hot Dogs in many locations throughout the Tri-State region. This hot dog tradition even trickles into eastern Kentucky where you can find numerous worthwhile examples such as Crisp's Dairy Treat and the now out-of-business Dairy Cheer (Home of the Smashburger).
No one should die without trying a West Virignia hot dog. So if you can't travel there, make your own at home.
Ingredients:1 T olive oil
1 small onion, fine dice
2.5 lbs ground beef
0.25 lbs ground pork
1 box of beef broth
1.5 t black pepper
1.5 t salt
1.5 t chili powder
2 T crushed red chili pepper (medium hot)
16 oz. tomato sauce
7 oz. tomato ketchup
1/2 small can tomato paste
1/4 t cumin
Tabasco sauce to taste (I use about 12 shakes)
Directions:In a dutch oven, saute the onion in the olive oil until tender but not browned. Crumble the ground beef and pork and add to the pot. Cover with beef broth and cook for 1 hour, uncovered, adding water if necessary. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, covered, over low heat, just simmering, for two more hours. If you wish a thinner sauce, add more water half way through the final two hours. For thick sauce, cook down, uncovered for a while longer.
This recipe makes an entire dutch oven full of sauce. It can be scaled down, but keep in mind, it freezes well and you are going to want this again.