Paleo Chili Dogs
Sometimes Harris wants “fun” food: the stuff from the bad old days of processed edibles with ingredient lists only a chem major can understand. Chili dogs fall into that category. I’m not a hard liner when it comes to his choices. As he’s been known to remark to control-freaky friends in the midst of a tirade, “Not the mama!” I cook with the ingredients and in the style that makes sense for me, and so far, he hasn’t left the table in order to run out to the golden arches. But he will ask for such weirdness as Hormel chili-topped dogs about twice a year, and I’ll cringe, and pick up the can with my handy 11-foot pole. I used to actually open the thing and heat it up, but then I decided he could manage that task and leave me out of it. This last time he requested chili dogs, I thought I’d just make my own version and see what transpires.
Grassfed hot dogs are easy to find if you’ve got a Whole Foods around, and conventional grocery stores are beginning to stock grassfed and pastured meats and poultry with some consistency. Making paleo chili con carne is easy. And this recipe is packed with nutritious goodness and excellent flavor. It’s the bun that’s the problem. While gluten free options are available, “gluten free” rarely qualifies as paleo. I found a recipe for paleo hot dog rolls and had a link to it, but since this post was first published, the recipe has been taken down. It certainly fit the bill, and I so appreciate the recipe developer’s work, in the end though, I skipped eating much of it, and the rest of the group found it to be only “okay.” The trouble with faux breads is that they just don’t equate. Some wheaty alternatives can be awesome, but it’s usually in the sweets section of the recipe index. Once fruits or chocolate are introduced, paleo baked goods become quite delicious. The bare bones reality of the paleo sandwich-delivery systems we’ve tried is that they’re less than memorable. Personally I’d rather do without.
My benchmark for bread options is this: if the item is so damn delicious you could eat it without butter, toppings or fillings of any kind, it’s the real deal. But most breads and buns are ho-hum flat and boring, so why bother? I know … it’s the ones that aren’t that are hard to forget. And believe, me, if there was one ingredient to be grievously troubled by, I would have to get wheat. Could it be radishes? Of course not. I could start with breakfast and give you a litany of wheat-based treats that I adore, but can no longer eat without being punished, that would fill ten pages. On rare occasions I’ll dip a toe in the gluten pool regardless and suffer the consequences, but for the most part, I have no regrets. Two of my sisters and I went out for burgers the other night and I barely gave a thought about leaving out the bun. It can be done, though it can be a chore at times, and I continue to search and experiment. If I come upon a winner, you’ll be second to know ‘cuz Harris has to give his thumbs up first. Meanwhile, chili dogs are so messy that a traditional bun tends to disintegrate anyway, and until a truly delectable option shows up, I think we’ll all be content to knife-and-fork this dish.
The consensus on this recipe was that it’s a winner. I heard no sentimental pining for Hormel, and perhaps we’ve left that old dragon behind.
To go with the chili dogs, I wanted a fresh, crispy/crunchy side, and borrowing from a Cook’s Illustrated technique, I have a recipe for cherry tomato salad with a Tex Mex flavor profile that goes nicely with the chili dogs. Okay, I confess, we have a bounty of cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100s) and cucumbers in the garden, and we eat them everyday. This recipe was a way to dress them differently. I do hope you enjoy! For the playlist, I have an eclectic assortment of tunes for your listening pleasure.
- 1 cup beef broth preferably homemade
- 2 tbsp gelatin powder
- 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil, ghee, lard, or tallow
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1.5 lbs ground beef 85/15, preferably grassfed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp chili powder or to taste
- 1 tbsp dried oregano or to taste
- 1 tbsp ground cumin or to taste
- 2 tsp ground coriander or to taste
- 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- salt and pepper or to taste
- 1 15-ounce diced tomatoes puréed in a blender or food processor or leave as is for a chunky texture
- 8 grassfed hot dogs
- 8 paleo hot dog buns if desired, find recipe in notes below
- toppings chopped avocado, onion, cilantro, tomatoes, and or cheese
In a small bowl, place the beef broth and sprinkle the gelatin on top to soften.
In a 12-inch skillet or Dutch Oven, melt oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about five minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon or other utensil. Cook, stirring frequently until pink color is gone about 10 minutes.
Add dried spices and salt and pepper and cook about 2 minutes, mixing them thoroughly into the meat mixture. Add the tomatoes and stir. Stir the broth until the gelatin is completely dissolved and add it to the skillet with the meat and tomatoes. Stir thoroughly.
Reduce the heat to very low and let simmer uncovered until most of the liquid is gone, about 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Cook the hot dogs in a skillet over medium heat until browned to your liking, 7-10 minutes. Serve with chili spooned on top and garnished with your choice of toppings. Use paleo buns if desired.
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 medium cucumbers cut into bite-sized pieces,
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese shredded, optional
Place the halved cherry tomatoes in a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices. Sprinkle with salt and coconut sugar and toss to coat. Allow to drain for 30 minutes.
Shake the colander to remove any remaining juice and place tomatoes in a large bowl.
Pour the juices in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vinegar and cumin and bring to a boil. When the mixture reduces and becomes slightly syrupy (about 2-3 minutes), remove and set aside to cool, about 5 minutes. Whisk the olive oil into the vinegar mixture.
Add the cucumbers and red onion to the tomatoes and add the dressing, tossing to coat the vegetables. Taste and correct for seasoning. Garnish with cheese if using and serve.