What does something from Michigan have to do with the Land of Steady Habits, you ask? In fact, the Michigan dog is not a Michigan specialty at all, but one of Plattsburgh, NY. More on that in a bit.

Back in high school, some of my friends worked at Buster’s Drive-In, a seasonal hot dog stand in Bristol, CT. Beyond great shakes and onion rings, Buster’s is known for their Michigan dog–a hot dog topped with a sauce similar to chili, but thicker–a very dense meat sauce. I had forgotten about it until I reconnected with an old friend who reminded me how much I love ’em.

Fueled by nostalgia, and coached by faraway friends with connections to Plattsburgh, I was fired up to make my own Michigans! I riffed ever so slightly on a recipe said to be from Clare & Carl’s. It’s super-easy to make and a definite crowd-pleaser…not to mention it’s hot!

MICHIGAN SAUCE
adapted from Clare & Carl’s via Susan W. (Thank you!)

2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
2 pounds ground chuck
8 teaspoons (2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons) chili powder – I use Penzey’s Medium Hot
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
4 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot
2 teaspoons onion powder
black pepper
2 teaspoons coarse ground mustard
one tomato can (8 oz.) of water

Brown the ground chuck, breaking up the meat into small pieces as it cooks. Drain fat, then add all the remaining ingredients. It will look soupy at first. Not to worry!


The water will cook down as it simmers on your stovetop. Once it’s nice and thick, it’s ready to serve!

I grabbed some 12-inch Mucke’s from Stop & Shop to put a Connecticut spin on these hot diggity dawgs. Not only do chopped raw onions make Michigans even tastier, but also, if you “bury” them in the bun, under the dog, as well as sprinkle them on top of the sauce, it distributes the flavor nicely and helps keep all the toppings safely held together! Don’t forget to butter and grill your bun! HOO-AHHH! Three cheers for all-American comfort food: the Michigan dog!

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