American Classica

Flint-style Coney Chili Dog

May 31, 2022
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There are chili dogs, and then there are Flint-MI-style Coney chili dogs, grilled and topped with a very specific spiced-meat and onion sauce.  Go anywhere near Southeastern Michigan, and you’ll be sure to find one. To set the record straight on all of the lore and legend that grew up around these saucy dogs in the last century, food historian Dave Liske spent about 12 years researching, culminating in his just published, “The Flint Coney, a Savory History,” (American Palate, a division of The History Press.)

Liske, longtime host of the Flint Coney Resource site, says Flint-style sauce–originally made with ground beef heart, was first developed by Macedonian restaurateur Simion  (Sam) Petcieff Brayan in 1924 for his Flint’s Original Coney Island restaurant. 

Says Liske, “Brayan was the one who contracted with Koegel Meat Company to make the coney [hotdog] they still make today, also contracting with Abbott’s Meat company to make the sauce.” Abbott’s still makes Brayan’s 1919 sauce available to restaurants through Koegel. 

Gillie’s Coney Island, a 1985-opened restaurant in Mt. Morris, MI, is a keeper of the Flint-style Coney flame. The restaurant shared a large-volume recipe for Flint-style Coney Island chili in a Michigan Restaurant Association cookbook more than 20 years ago. I’m publishing that recipe with permission here, plus my own smaller-quantity, flavor-focused adaptation made with oil (or lard) instead of melted vegetable shortening, smoked Spanish paprika and granulated garlic. According to Liske, Gillie’s originally used beef heart for its chili, but switched to ground beef for the cookbook version, to make it easier for home cooks. The recipe comes very close to Brayan’s original.

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