Thursday, May 26, 2011

Slow Cooker Hotdog Chili with Creamy Slaw Recipe

WV slaw dog: English-style bun, mustard, chili and slaw.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of returning to my home state of West Virginia to visit with some super fine gentlemen who make some seriously rockin' white whiskey, gin and vodka under the name Smooth Ambler Spirits.  Not only do I love what these gents are doing (and the fact that I already need to re-up on my personal cache of the stuff proves that point), but I love these guys. They embody the hard-working spirit and true commitment to creating a successful family-owned and operated company that boasts a "complete grain-to-glass" method of production.
For more on the gentleman of Smooth Ambler, check out my feature article on them for Food Republic.

John Foster and John Little (a.k.a. The Johns) who oversee the operations at Smooth Ambler, and who are also tried and true Greenbrier County locals, were quick to point us to the best eats in the area, and let me tell you, there is some seriously good hotdog eating to be had in West Virginia.
WV chili slaw dog done all the way from Jim's Drive-In
One of their favorite stops is Jim's Drive-In in Lewisburg, West Virginia. Jim's is a family owned joint that's been in operation for over 50 years, and is one of the few places on the planet that offers real-deal 50's-style carhop service (think American Graffiti versus Sonic). At Jim's, you pull your car up to a small, unassuming building where a server comes out, takes your order, and then brings the food right to your car where it's snapped onto the driver side window.
Nearly everything is homemade here including the hand-cut fries and pork BBQ
While I figure most of Jim's menu is pretty darned worthy (from peach shakes to the $1.75 Budweiser) we were there for one thing-- a West Virginia chili slaw dog done all the way with mustard, onions, homemade chili sauce and creamy slaw.

Served on an English-style bun, which is a buttered and grilled flat-bottomed bun (quite similar to a New England-style bun used for lobster rolls), an all-beef weenie is slathered in yellow mustard, sprinkled with raw onions and then topped with the two most indisputably important items for the slaw dog: homemade chili sauce (NO BEANS PEOPLE) and homemade sweet, cidery, creamy slaw. 
If you've never had a dog done up this way, first, I feel sorry for you. Secondly, I can help you. My family takes their chili slaw dogs very seriously, so seriously in fact that my mom has developed her own hot dog chili recipe. Please note: this is HOT DOG chili and is not to be confused with anything that is served in a bowl with shredded cheese and sour cream, so don't even think of serving it that way. This chili is made for hot dogs only. And, because I'm feeling extra nice with Memorial Day coming up, I'll share my mom's creamy cider slaw recipe as well, so you can recreate authentic West Virginia chili slaw dogs at your own weekend cookouts. Carhop service is optional at your next party, but I do recommend lots of icy cold cheap beer and plastic trays.

SLOW COOKER UPDATE This recipe for hotdog chili can be easily made in the slow cooker or crockpot. In fact, I think it tastes better made that way, so much so that I've included a recipe for it in my soon-to-be-released cookbook, "The Southern Slow Cooker".

To make this hotdog chili recipe in the slow cooker: simply reduce the amount of water (see my notes in the below recipe) and then instead of adding all of your ingredients to a pot on the stove, add them to the slow cooker or crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Slow Cooker Hot Dog Chili Recipe
Makes about 6 cups

This makes a lot of chili sauce as you can see, but no worries. It freezes well. Freeze in quart bags for individual use.

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds extra lean ground beef
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup water, plus 1 quart hot water (for crockpot hotdog chili, reduce the water to a 1/2 cup and 2 cups respectively).

Melt your shortening in a large sauté pan. Saute onions and garlic until soft. Add beef and break it up into little pieces.  Add spices along with one cup water (or 1/2 cup if making in the slow cooker) and stir well. Pour the beef mixture into a large pot on the stove (or a slow cooker sprayed with cooking spray) along with the rest of the hot water (use only 2 cups if making in the slow cooker).  Cook on medium-high for the first hour and then turn down low and let the chili cook for 6-8 hours (covered). SLOW COOKER METHOD: cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Season with salt and pepper, if desired before serving.

To assemble your dogs: Steam or grill a hot dog bun. Then, smear it with yellow mustard. Next, steam, grill or boil an all-beef frank. Then, top with chili, onions and slaw. Finally, break out the napkins.

Note: Serve sauce over hotdogs with a slotted spoon so you don’t soak your bun with too much liquid.

Creamy Cider Slaw Recipe
Serves 6

In true country cooking fashion, this is a recipe where one must taste as she goes, adding a little more of this or that as needed. If you like your slaw on the sweet side, add more sugar. Like it tart? Use less sugar and more vinegar.

½ head cabbage, finely grated
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or to taste)
2-4 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of celery seed, optional

In a large bowl, whisk sugar and vinegar together until the sugar is completely dissolved.  Add mayo and blend dressing until it is smooth and creamy.

About 30 minutes before serving, add your cabbage (this is not an overnight slaw).  Mix well to coat and season with salt, pepper and celery seed, if desired.

Recipes courtesy of White Trash Gatherings: From-Scratch Cooking for Down-Home Entertaining (Ten Speed Press, 2006).

All photos and text ©2013 Fatback and Foie Gras. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission Pin It Now!


  1. Hi Kendra-
    I heard that Smooth Ambler (great stuff) was being D-listed from VA ABC. The guys at Comfort bought up all available stock in Richmond on close-out. True or not, is Smooth Ambler coming off the shelves here?

  2. Hey Genevelyn,

    Just shot the guys over at Smooth Ambler a msg. When I spoke with them this weekend, they said that several ABC stores in the rva area currently carried their products and never mentioned anything about being D-listed or on close-out. I'll let you know what I find. I sure hope it's not true!

  3. Ok, just heard back from Smooth Ambler and their response was "zero truth" to all of it. Smooth Ambler has not been D-listed nor has Comfort bought up all the stock, so good news there.

  4. I am going to have try me some of that there chili! Have you had a dog at Moores country store?

    Next time down 460 at the Mt. Athos take a peek and try one!


  5. Tim, I will.

    I never pass up a chance to try a chili dog!

    Thanks :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...