Editor's note: Back by popular demand.
So who doesn’t like hot dogs? I grew up around Lake George, where hot dogs are king and hot dog joints are kind of revered. In my day they were a late-night tradition and they probably still are.
After hitting bars like “Chi-Chi’s,” “Brusso’s,” “The Pit” and “Sandy’s Clam Bar,” we would walk across South Street in downtown Glens Falls, and pile into the diner across the street for a couple of “dirt dogs.” They were called dirt dogs because the meat sauce actually resembled dirt, but after a dozen or so Genesee beers, who cares? There also is a tiny place called “The Dog Shack” that my brother-in-law still loves, although he pulls up out in front and makes my sister go inside because he doesn’t want to smell like hot dogs for the rest of the night.
On the other side of town is Zach’s Drive-In Restaurant, still cranking ‘em out after 50 years. It’s a genuine drive-in where waitresses in white skirts still hook the silver tray on your car window in the gravel parking lot. My parents brought us there on weekends as far back as I can remember. They’re only open during summer months, so we spent all winter waiting for it to re-open, trying to remember the taste of the sauce on their “Texas Red Hots.”
My Uncle Frank still makes his famous spicy meat-sauce for dogs. Rumor has it that it is based on Zach’s secret recipe. Apparently he wheedled the recipe out of the owner one night while they were drinking V.O. over at Chi-Chi’s in Hudson Falls.
We have a couple of legendary hot dog places around here: most notable are Super Duper Weenie in Orange, Blackie’s in Cheshire, Jack Rabbit’s and Johnny Ad’s - both in Old Saybrook. If you don’t feel like driving all that way, buy some good dogs, butter up those buns, and make some of this terrific homemade meat sauce.
Uncle Frank’s Hot Dog Sauce
1 large yellow onion, small dice
1 pound lean ground beef, chopped fine
1-32 oz bottle of catsup
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
salt to taste
Simmer the onion in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Add the ground beef and return to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for an hour or until it is thick.
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