Still, in scouring the web for variations and specific versions of recipes for Flint-style coney sauce, I’ve stumbled across what appears to be a “diamond in the rough”. This one is seriously as close to the original as I’ve seen so far.
- Over medium heat, melt shortening. Heat until quite hot.
- Add onion and saute for 1 minute
- Add spices and stir, heating for 2 minutes
- Add 10 lbs of hamburger; reduce heat to very low and cook for one hour
Here is Dave Gillie’s recipe as it appeared in “A Taste of Michigan”:
In an email on January 25, 2015, Dave Gillie verified that this is a minor variation what he makes at Gillie’s Coney Island. “The book recipe was slightly modified for publication [from what we make] just to accommodate being done at home. I made one change in that published recipe: I changed the normal extra fine raw ground ‘beef, beef heart, soy texture’ that I buy from Abbott’s Meat in 25# bags with suggesting they use lean hamburg and grind it extra fine. (I might have suggested trying to find beef heart?)” While he may have suggested this modification, it did not show up in the final publication.
Ground beef is specified in ratios of lean meat to fat. In most foods, especially burgers, we’ll use an 80/20 ground chuck. But for this sauce we’ll use more of a utility beef, a 73/27. Since it’s readily available in 3 lb. chubbs, that’s the amount we’ll adjust the recipe for and divide the other measurements by about a third.
We can replace the shortening with lard to get better richness. But remember, lard is made from pig fat. Mr. Abbott specifically mention boiling beef suet for several hours, the result of which is beef tallow. This would certainly give the sauce a more accurate flavor profile. Beef tallow is readily available in jars from FatWorks. What we can do is specify both the lard and the tallow as options, forgoing the shortening completely.
The end result of these adjustments, along with modifying the list of ingredients to match currently-available products (and obviously ditching the ketchup), is below:
Gillie’s Coney Island Sauce (Home Version)
- 3 lb 73/27 ground beef
- 1/3 cup White onion, minced
- 1/2 cup Beef tallow or lard
- 2 Tbsp Chili powder, hot
- 1 Tbsp Spanish paprika
- 1 Tbsp Cumin, ground
- Over medium heat, melt the tallow or lard. Heat until very hot.
- Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the spices and stir, heating for 2 minutes.
- Add the hamburger; reduce heat to very low and simmer for at least one hour to let the flavors develop. Stir regularly to ensure the meat is broken up to be as small as possible.
- Place grilled Koegel Viennas or Koegel Coney Franks dogs in steamed buns and top with Gillie’s chili, mustard, and raw diced onion.