Flint Coney Sauce Recipes

This is my collection of almost every version of the Flint Coney sauce recipe I’ve been able to locate. The recipes here have all been tested, and are provided with development notes and photos.

One thing I’m doing my best to correct, is peoples’ perception of what a Flint Coney really is. So before we go any further, understand this one fact:

There is no such thing as a single restaurant recipe for Flint Coney sauce.

Here’s how it works: Abbott’s Meat provides a 25# bag of raw and unfrozen sauce base (in the above image on the left) to the restaurants.The contents of the bag consists of finely-ground beef heart with soy texture. That product is the foundation for each restaurant’s individual recipe for the sauce. How it’s used is why there are so many minor variations in flavor. This is further described in the first recipe below.

With all the misinformation that’s run rampant about supposed sauce recipes containing ground beef and ground hot dogs, it’s important to have solid information about how the restaurants in Flint have actually made their sauces since 1925. This page includes photos of the base products, recipes for the basic Flint Coney spice blend, which restaurants adjust according to their own tastes and traditions, and how restaurants might use chopped grilled Coney Franks from the previous day in their sauce so there’s less waste.

For those who don’t have access to the 25# bag of Coney Topping Mix from Abbott’s Meat, the recipe for creating Flint Coney sauce from scratch involves starting with a whole beef heart, freezing and grinding it before adding textured vegetable protein, to recreate the base of what’s in the bag that’s distributed to restaurants. A few notes are included to help understand older methods of creating the sauce which are no longer in-use today.

It turns out David Gillie of Gillie’s Coney Island in Mt. Morris, Michigan, published his Flint Coney Sauce recipe in “A Taste of Michigan”, a now out-of-print cookbook from the Michigan Restaurant Association. What’s interesting about this recipe is that David Gillie has told me he only made one change to his restaurant’s recipe for this version, also explaining what that change was. To my knowlwdge, this is the only Flint Coney sauce recipe available from an actual working restaurant.
This is probably one of the most duplicated and modified recipes for the sauce. Posters constantly claim “This is the original!”, and the even more ridiculous “My [insert relative here] got this from the owners!!!”, which is patently untrue. (In our family, it was supposedly Aunt Fern.) Also, while a lot of people seriously love their Flint-style coneys, they tend to get a bit squeamish when you start letting them know there’s beef heart in the original sauce, and beef kidneys in some variations. This recipe solves that problem: It uses a combination of ground beef and ground hot dogs as the main ingredients, with real lard and ground mustard providing body and a little “kick”. But it’s nowhere near the original recipe, regardless of the rumors and folklore.
Professional basketball player Marty Embry, who played pro in Europe for thirteen years, grew up in Flint and has been a coneyhead his entire life. After being trained by Tom Z, Marty has developed an extremely accurate sipce mix for use with some ground beef and some chopped onion. This makes a coney sauce that is extremely close in both flavor and texture to some of the more well-known Flint coney sauces available in the Flint area. In this test, we set up Marty’s sauce against sauce from Angelo’s for a direct comparison.
For years, I’d had the urge to create my own version of the sauce as served at Angelo’s in Flint using both beef heart and beef kidney. This recipe is the result.
According to “Two To Go”, Flint Original Coney founder Simion P. Brayan talked about a goulash that “contained parts of a cow that most Americans would declare positively yukky [sic].” He continued, “to make a better coney sauce, one should blend flavorful beef heart and kidney with the beef using beef suet as a base.” Such a dish doesn’t appear to exist anymore, so I developed this recipe from recipes we believe capture the spirit of the goulash he was talking about.

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