Two years ago, I posted a recipe probably given to me by my sister-in-law for hot dog sauce, supposedly similar to that at a Greenville, PA bar and grill. We’ve had the original many times, including recently, and thought this recipe was pretty close, at least in basic ingredients. But if you look at the post comments, you’ll see two recent comments from former Greenville residents that suggest one significant problem with my sauce, a problem I agree with—too much cloves. One generous informant, Mr. McDonald, even provided a recipe from one of his former Greenville neighbors “of the original Majestic restaurant.” Here’s the recipe I have been using, followed by the better one:
I decided to make the better recipe in a slow cooker, instead of hovering around a pot on the stove, and that turned out to be a good choice, although the beef didn’t break down like I thought it might, even after 8 hours, so I pulsed it in a blender for a few seconds for a much better texture. Both cooking methods are below.
Greenville Hot Dog Sauce
- 3 lbs ground beef
- 2 “handfuls chopped onion” (I used 2 cups)
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon nutmeg (Mr. McDonald used 2 teaspoons; I used the tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons paprika (I only had smoked paprika)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 14 oz bottle ketchup
- 6 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt (I added 2 more at the end)
- 1 cup flour (Mr. McDonald says “3/4 c. seems enough”; I used the full cup in the slow cooker)
- Brown beef, drain, and set aside, reserving about 3 tablespoons fat in pot.
- Sweat onions in the reserved fat until translucent.
- Return beef to pot with spices and ketchup.
- Beat together water, salt, and flour until all the flour is combined. Add to sauce mixture. “Simmer 2 hours. The sauce will thicken and the beef will break down. The beef is supposed to be in small particles, like Cincinnati chili. If you simmer the sauce uncovered then the water evaporates down,” if needed.
In slow cooker:
- Brown beef in large skillet, drain, and place in slow cooker. Reserve about 3 tablespoons fat in skillet.
- Sweat onions in the reserved fat until translucent, then transfer to slow cooker.
- Add spices and ketchup to slow cooker.
- Beat together water, salt, and flour until all the flour is combined. Add to slow cooker, stirring until all is combined.
- Cook at HIGH for 4 hours. Stir, then set at LOW for another 3-4 hours. You shouldn’t have any sticking, unless you have an older cooker with the heating element on the bottom, in which case you might want to use an all-day LOW setting.
- If the texture of the ground beef is still chunky at the end of the cooking (like mine was) you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender or food processor to make it more finely textured, which is best for a hot dog sauce. Just don’t turn it into a paste!
*About the amount of flour in the sauce. One cup of flour has 16 tablespoons, enough to thicken 8 cups of liquid to a medium sauce, like white sauce or cheese sauce. Combined here with 6 cups of water, you can see why the first cooking method on the stovetop suggests using less. In the slow cooker, however, there is little to no evaporation and the sauce is not too thick. That said, you have to decide how thick you want the final sauce. We like a kind of loose sauce with fine textured meat, and thought this one was just right