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:
My recipe front
My recipe back
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.
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
So one way not to cook so many hamburgers on the grill is to smush all the ground beef into a meatloaf, right?
There is a lot of inspiration on the web for wrapping rolls of meat in bacon and then slow-cooking or smoking the roll on the grill. I get a lot of that inspiration from Tony Meets Meat (obviously contains meat recipes!), although I didn’t really want to stuff the meatloaf, and stuffing seems to be a popular meme for meat rolls on the web. Usually the rolls are stuffed with more meat, but don’t think turducken. There are also some good ideas for grilling a meatloaf without a stuffing, most of them, as well as the aforementioned meat rolls, using a woven mat of bacon to hold it all together. The bacon weave is a great idea, not just for the flavor but for how it keeps the meat inside basted throughout a long cooking.
I used the snake charcoal method and cooked the loaf for 3 hours at about 250°-300°. The internal temperature at the end was about 177° and it was not overdone. The meatloaf was terrifically juicy throughout and the bacon had a moist, chewy texture. I put the loaf on a narrow strip of foil, which doubled as a lifter, so the bacon on the bottom was not browned, but it melted in your mouth. It was another Wow! meal. I have made bacon-wrapped meatloaves in the oven many times, but the bacon dries out too much. Not so on the grill.
Set up grill for indirect cooking—this could be a half and half setup or the snake method. Either way, you want to be able to keep the heat at medium to medium low for a long time. If you use the half and half method, don’t put your hood thermometer over the coals.
3 lbs 80% lean ground chuck
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup celery with leaves, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
22 oz package thick-sliced bacon
Mix first 11 ingredients by hand in large bowl, adding enough evaporated milk to achieve a moist mix that will hold together in a loaf shape.
Weave your slices of bacon into a square or rectangular mat as long as you want the loaf to be. As you can see in posts all over the web, it helps to make this on parchment paper or plastic wrap, which will help you roll it up. I kept out about three slices of bacon, because my 3 pound loaf was large in diameter, too large for one slice of bacon to go around. I laid the extra slices lengthwise across the loaf, and then brought the woven mat up the sides and slightly over those strips. The roll was then rolled over so the extra strips and ends were on the bottom. I kept the roll wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until the grill was ready. Here is a good image of the bacon weave: https://tonymeetsmeat.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/2015-06-28-20-40-39.jpg
You could place the loaf directly on the grill, but I put a narrow strip of foil under it, which worked as a lifter, making moving the loaf on and off the grill easy. It also meant I didn’t need to secure the bottom pieces and ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
Grill over a drip pan (or one you improvise with foil, like I did) for about 3 hours at 250°-300° or until the internal temperature reaches 165°. Enjoy your 3 hours of doing nothing.
No, it’s not time for a summer picnic. In fact we’re in the midst of a pretty big chill, although I heard we will warm up today into the 30s or 40s. So the blanket of snow is not going anywhere, but I just had a taste for something different, and while hot dogs might seem like summer fare, baking bread on a cold winter day is a great way to keep warm. Maybe it seems like a lot of work to go to—making your own chili sauce and buns—for the lowly hot dog, but we do love a good hot dog around here.
2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 cup water for thickening
Brown the venison over medium heat with a little olive or vegetable oil, if it is very lean. I’d be surprised if it needs to be drained, but if you’re using beef, drain it. Add the onion and garlic, stirring until they begin to soften.
Add the seasonings, ketchup and water, stirring to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Stir in the flour and water mixture and simmer for about another 15-20 minutes, until thickened.
I found a wonderful bun recipe at Simple Bites, picked partly because the images don’t look perfect—I appreciate when people put their stuff out there without it looking like it was professionally photographed and when the food itself looks real. I also picked it because it uses all whole wheat flour, instead of a mix of white and wheat. I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly because I had different ingredients on hand. My whole wheat flour was neither organic nor bread flour—it was just King Arthur® 100% Whole Wheat. I didn’t have any buttermilk, either, so I soured some whole milk with a little vinegar. And I didn’t have any whole cane sugar, so I just used white sugar. Other than that, I followed the recipe and it makes a very nice-handling dough that is easy to shape, without the extra flour suggested in the recipe.
I had some leftover hot dog buns and and one nice sandwich roll, so I pulsed them in the food processor to put in the freezer, but took two cups out first for meatloaf. I find fresh bread crumbs to have a much nicer effect than dried crumbs in meatloaf. They’re moister and softer and carry those characteristics into the finished loaf.
I’m kind of surprised, though, that there are so many recipes for meatloaf on the web, because it’s such a simple, basic concept that you personalize with practically no bad results. Ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, seasonings. You can do that in your head and figure out your own proportions, even though I’ll give you mine below. I don’t think my meatloaf is exactly the same each time, but I get no complaints.
1.5 lb ground beef (I used 80% lean, which releases a lot of fat, but makes a moister loaf)
1 lb ground turkey (not ground turkey breast)
1 carrot, 1 celery rib, and 1 onion minced in a food processor
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup milk
About the ingredients:
So, this is a 2.5 lb loaf that will give us at least two meals, but you can vary the amounts and types of meat used. Typically recipes call for a combination of beef, veal, and pork, sometimes in thirds, sometimes with more beef. You usually don’t know the proportions in a meatloaf mix in the grocery store, but it’s nice to have it done for you and may be cheaper than buying the meats separately. Today, I used ground turkey, because I thought it would be a nice flavor addition, and I already had plenty of fat from the 80% lean beef. It was good.
Seasoned, dried bread crumbs work well, also, but when I use dried bread crumbs, I usually use evaporated milk for the liquid.
The ketchup and Worcestershire sauce is a nice combination of flavorings, a little sharp and tangy. I don’t put ketchup on top of the loaf, but you could. Other than salt and pepper, I didn’t add any herbs today, but sometimes I use thyme or oregano.
I think my mother only used onion to season hers, but I do like adding more minced vegetables, again for moisture, as well as flavor.
Mix everything in a large bowl so all the ingredients are well distributed, without overworking the mixture—you’re not making bread. I use a large meat fork to stir at first because the two tines cut through it all without over-mixing. Then I get in there with my hands kind of folding it over until I’m sure there isn’t some ingredient left in the bottom of the bowl.
Bring it together and roll it all into your baking dish. I like a free-formed loaf in a large stoneware dish instead of in a loaf pan, but if you like softer, unbrowned sides, use the loaf pans.
Bake at 350° for 1-1.5 hours. I did the full 1.5 hours to get it to an internal temperature of about 160° – 170° and let the dish rest on the stove, where it continues to cook a little more. I took it out before it reached 170° because nothing is worse than overcooked, dry meatloaf.