This is a Haley family classic. Coney Islands, which are basically just chili dogs, were featured on my childhood table on weeknights and weekends, for Sunday lunch after church in front of the TV or for a neighborhood get together. Good hot dogs and good hot dog buns, topped with meaty chili sauce, chopped raw onion, and of course, cheese were casual and easy enough to feed a hungry family quickly, but could also easily please a large crowd of people.
They’re not pretty–no one would accuse them of being that. However, they’re humble in a way that most good, nostalgic, things are. I’m sure you could gussy up a Coney Island with brats instead of hot dogs and homemade buns, caramelized onions, and fancy cheese. But why would you? A good all-beef hot dog with simple, homemade chili is all you need. And Fritos. Always Fritos. Coney Islands aren’t going to win any culinary prizes, but then again, I guess that all depends on who you ask–it would win best-in-show every single time for my Dad.
By the way, it’s against my very nature to talk, eat, or make hot dogs without acting out this scene from Father of the Bride.
Some big shot over at the wiener company, talked to some big shot over at the bun company, and decided to rip off the American public!
Alright, that’s done.
These are definitely eat-with-a-fork hotdogs and not eat-while-you’re-walking-around hotdogs. There’s a place for both, for sure, but these are a meal, whereas the other is a snack at a ballgame or a day at the park. Who knew I had so many thoughts about hot dogs?
These are hearty, comforting, and remind me of childhood. They’re also very filling, although that did not deter me from finishing both of them. The best part about these, other than that they are a family stand-by, is that they’re easily customizable based on the number of people you need to feed. Because they are finished in the oven, you can double the chili recipe and load up as many baking dishes as you have with hot dogs and buns and feed an army.
This is a good, hearty, simple meal. It’s honest, it’s not trying to impress, it’s just trying to please. Can a meal be all those things? I think it can.
Here’s the recipe.
Oven-Baked Coney Islands with Homemade Chili
For the chili:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more if you like it spicy!)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 6-8 hot dogs, cooked however you like
- 6-8 hot dog buns (some big shot….I can’t help it).
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- shredded cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking dish with foil and set hot dog buns inside. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef with the chopped onion. Once the beef is completely cooked, add the crushed tomatoes and the seasonings. Stir together then reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until very thick.
- Once the chili has reduced, place your cooked hot dogs in the hot dog buns. Top with chili, chopped onion, and shredded cheese. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is very melted and the tops of the buns are a little toasted.
- Serve immediately with chips. FRITOS!