Dish of the Week: The West Virginia Slaw Dog
From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.
This week, we’re firing up hot dogs with a regional take: West Virginia’s Slaw Dog.
Made with a grilled dog stuffed into a bun with a meaty chili (a.k.a. “hot dog sauce”) and mayo-based coleslaw topper, the key to this popular wiener is making a hot dog chili thick enough to hold the mound of slaw piled on. As an added bonus, we should probably mention the fact that said chili has no beans in it. Score!
But while the sauce is important, the star here is the is the slightly tangy, incredibly creamy slaw. Made most simply with a touch of vinegar and mayo (some recipes call for mustard, celery seed, cider vinegar, and a mix of spices), once you put slaw on your dog, there’s no going back.
According to The West Virginia Hot Dog Blog, tradition holds that the Stopette Drive In, just outside Charleston, West Virginia, may have served up the first coleslaw-topped chili dog in the 1920s. Today, you’ll find slaw dogs not only in West Virginia, but all over country. And hopefully now at your next cook out.
This recipe, from Chef Kevin Gillespie, tops dogs with a simple beer chili, yellow mustard and onions, and mayo-only slaw. Feel free to add a touch of cider or white wine vinegar to the slaw for tang.
For the slaw (makes about 2 cups):
1/2 small head green cabbage, dark outer leaves removed
3 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp mayonnaise
Optional: more mayo as desired, splash of cider or white wine vinegar
For the chili:
1 pound grass-fed ground beef (85% lean)
1 baseball-size Vidalia onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about 2 cups
1 cup water
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced really thin, about 1/4 cup
3 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp New Mexico pure red chile powder
1 tbsp salt
1 cup beer
For the dogs:
8 hot dogs
1 tsp canola oil
8 top-split hot dog buns
1/2 cup diced Vidalia onion
For the coleslaw: Cut the cabbage into coarse chunks and drop into a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Give it about 20 quick pulses; you want a very fine chop, but be careful that you don’t end up with mush. You should have a little more than 2 1/2 cups chopped cabbage.
Scrape the cabbage into a bowl and mix in the sugar and salt. Press and pack the mixture down to compact it, then cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour so the sugar and salt dissolve and start to draw the liquid out of the cabbage. Press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the liquid.
Stir the mayonnaise into the cabbage until combined.
For the chili: In a heavy saucepan, combine the beef, onion, water, garlic, tomato paste, chile powder, and salt and stir. The mixture will be thick and pasty. Cook over medium-high heat until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Add the beer and return the chili to a simmer. Cut the heat down to medium-low and simmer for another 20 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat and let the chili cool in the pan. This may seem like a weird technique because there is no caramelization or browning of the meat, but it achieves the perfect texture and consistency for hot dog chili with no big chunks of meat.
For the dogs: Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over high heat and wipe the pan with a paper towel dipped in the canola oil. You only want enough oil to shine up the skillet. When the pan is smoking hot, pat the dogs dry and add them to the pan. Cut the heat down to medium and cook just until the dogs are lightly charred, about 4 minutes per side.
Slice the buns lengthwise through the top (if not already sliced for top loading). Slip in the dogs, spoon a generous amount of chili onto each dog, and squeeze a generous amount of mustard down the length of the chili. Top with about 1/4 cup slaw, then garnish with a thick layer of onions.
The order of ingredients matters: You want to enclose the mustard in the chili and slaw so it’s almost a surprise within the bite.
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