I was never a fan of hot dogs. I had my fill growing up.
My mother, by her own admission, did not like to cook. We lived in town, and I walked to elementary and middle school. Students were given a long lunch break and I would go home for lunch and then return for afternoon classes.
That meant my mother would have to come up with a quick meal. Boiled hot dogs circulated on the weekly menu. They were served on a white bun with mustard.
When I left home at 18, I never wanted to see another hot dog again, but friends at Glenville State College raved about the hot dogs in the student union. They encouraged me to try one. I couldn’t imagine a hot dog being as delicious as they described, but one evening when I was hungry, I ordered one.
It was the strangest hot dog I’d ever seen. The hot dog was cooked in a rolling rotisserie. It was smothered in a meaty chili sauce, topped with American cheese slices and dill pickles, served on a toasted bun.
One bite was all it took, and I was a fan. For the next three years, that was what I always ordered when I went to the student union.
Once on my own, I avoided hot dogs again. I was living alone in Georgia and I didn’t know how to make hot dog sauce. I imagined it would be a big ordeal, and I didn’t have time to experiment, because I was serving an intensive pottery apprenticeship.
After I got married, I learned that my husband liked hot dogs. We moved to this area of West Virginia where we were introduced to the West Virginia dog topped with chili sauce and coleslaw. Again, it seemed like an odd combination, but it made the hot dog palatable, and that is the way I chose to prepare them at home.
Occasionally, I tried to replicate the GSC hot dog with no luck. I recently got an air fryer, and reviewers said it would make the perfect hot dog and toasted bun, so I bought some expensive all-beef wieners and decided to give the college hot dog another try.
I made a batch of West Virginia hot dog sauce. That means the ground beef is boiled, not fried! I used my own spicy dill pickles, and, if I can brag, I made a better hot dog than the one I liked from the student union.
I posted a photo of my creation to my Facebook page and had several requests for the sauce recipe. The recipe makes a lot, so I froze several packets and expect we will have hot dogs more frequently now.
I hope you like this sauce and this central West Virginia-style hot dog as much as I do.
West Virginia Hot Dog Sauce
1 pound ground chuck
2 cups water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika (smoked is nice, but not necessary)
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced onions
½ to 1 tablespoon garlic powder (yes, that’s right)
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup ketchup (I grew up in West Virginia’s northernmost town and we used only Heinz.)
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 small can tomato paste
Place the meat in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, breaking up meat with a spatula.
Lower to a simmer and add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, minced onions, garlic powder and red pepper. Stir everything together and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste together. Add to the meat mixture. Simmer uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.
Note: The original recipe called for ¼ cup brown sugar. I deleted it, because I am not keen on sweet sauce and I thought the ketchup made this sauce sweet enough.
The original recipe says it makes 12 servings. I’m not sure how much sauce was used per hot dog, but I found that less than a third of the recipe was enough to top eight hot dogs, with plenty left over. The sauce freezes well and can be reheated in the microwave.
To make the Glenville hot dog:
Cook the hot dog according to your air fryer’s directions. Place the hot dog on the bun. Top with sauce and a slice of American cheese that has been cut in half.
Return to the air fryer for a few minutes until the cheese has melted. The bun will be perfectly toasted. Top with dill pickles and enjoy!