Texas Chili Sauce for Dogs…A Childhood Memory


According to Wikipedia, Nostalgia is a sentimentality for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  The word nostalgia is a learned formation of a Greek compound meaning “homecoming” joined with a Homeric word meaning “pain, ache”.  Most of us have experienced the yearning for loved ones and the things in our past that make for fond memories.  Since my family excelled at “spreading the love, one delicious dish after another,” many of my most cherished memories involve food.  As the first frost comes and destroys our summer gardening efforts and the chilly air requires a coat, a bit of melancholy sets in and my thoughts drift to times long past.

Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, hid the sweet memory ofTexas Drive-In,” my first experience at a drive-in restaurant as well as my first taste of what was billed as authentic Texas-style chili dog.  It might be safe to say that there isn’t a person who lives in or near Tyrone, PA, who hasn’t consumed at least one of this local iconic taste treat.  If you are a Texan, you may debate its authenticity but authentic or not, where I grew up, it was always a much sought after treat.  The original building no longer stands and the business has changed hands, but my hometown friends and family assure me it still remains a reason to go home.  IMG_9487

Recently, while reminiscing, I put a shout out on Face Book asking if anyone knew what was in their “secret chili sauce.”  My dear friend, Rick, responded with what he knew to be the original and I went about making my own version. I tweaked the recipe and cooking method a bit, but I was really pleased with the outcome.

Here is how it goes down.

JEANNE’S  “TEXAS DRIVE-IN” CHILI SAUCE for DOGS                         

Makes 4c

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

2T extra-virgin olive oil

2 small onions, roughly chopped (or 1 large)

2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

3 good quality natural casing wieners, grilled and ground in food processor

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef (raw)

2t medium-hot chili powder

1 6oz. can tomato paste

1 ½ 6 oz. can (above) water (total 9 oz.)

1t red pepper flakes

1t sea salt

  1. Place the olive oil in a food processor. Add the onion and garlic and chop fine. Remove and place in a slow cooker.
  2. Roughly cut the grilled wieners and chop until fine. Place those in the slow cooker along with the onions and garlic.
  3. Crumble the raw ground beef into the above mixture. Add remaining ingredients and stir well until incorporated
  4. Cook for 4 hrs. on high, stirring occasionally.

Note: Can be served immediately as a condiment for a grilled hot dog or frozen in small batches to be saved for future use.

IMG_9491The version Rick sent me was cooked for 2 hrs. in a double boiler while being stirred frequently.  This sounding a bit fussy, I decided to substitute the slow cooker.  Good call too, as it cooked  beautifully with  minimal fuss.  I simmered mine for 4 hours on high but you could cook it a lot longer on low if you wish.  The addition of ground wieners seemed really odd but I added it to honor the original and they added a lot of flavor.

My husband loved this chili, as evidenced by the quantity he consumed.  In addition to the dog topping it is meant to be, he was also using it to make “Sloppy Joe” style sandwiches.  I think he was feeling the love.

Admittedly, I eat very few hot dogs these days, but this trip down memory lane was delicious and quite satisfying, transporting me back to the times when we would stop and stand at the window experiencing the thrilling anticipation of that first bite.  I always ate mine with yellow mustard. onions and of course, the chili.


I hope you have sweet food memories that serve to plant a big smile on your face and in your heart.  Sharing those memories is an important way to keep spreading the love, one heartfelt dish at a time.  To all my friends and family living in or near Tyrone PA, I send my love and recipe to you.  Thanks, Rick for sharing and helping to keep the memory alive.  Until next time, may you walk in peace.  Jeanne


10 responses to “Texas Chili Sauce for Dogs…A Childhood Memory

  1. Elizabeth Palmer

    Ahhh, sometimes nothing is more satisfying than a good chili dog! Our nieces have started a new 4th of July tradition, preparing a hot dog bar. The condiments are grouped together in a theme (Chicago, San Francisco, etc) with a placard at each station, listing the ingredients needed to top your dog. I think I’ll provide your “Texas Drive-in Chili Sauce” for our next gathering. Of course, I will try it well before next July! Thanks for sharing this fun idea, Jeanne!

    • Hi Elizabeth: I love the idea of the hot dog bar. Your nieces sound fun and creative. I might have to steel the idea. I hope you all enjoy my version of the Texas chili dog. I have a book named, “Haute Dog” I think you and your nieces might enjoy. It has recipes for all styles of dogs, domestic as well as international, . You are welcome to keep it and share .with your nieces. Perhaps you could have a huge dog bar next year. I will send via your sister, Linda. Michael will bring it to band rehearsal on Thursday. Thanks again for your readership and comments. Dog love to you. Jeanne

  2. Jeanne, there’s something simple & rustic & yes, nostalgic, about a “dog” garnished with only yellow mustard, onions, and chili (my FAVE combo, too!) We ate ours at a local A &W drive-in and they were always good, but I like the “heft” to your Texas Chili sauce. Time to break out the slow cooker and “put on the dawg!”

    • Good luck with “putting on the dog” I think if chili dogs are on the menu, you will enjoy this recipe. It has a bit of heat from the chili powder and flakes that you can adjust to you liking. As it stands now the heat is there but not in your face, Let me know how it goes for you. Thanks so much for your comments. They mean a lot to me. Hope you are enjoying Fall on the lake. Sending love, Jeanne

  3. Elizabeth Palmer

    thanks, Jeanne! I really look forward to reading and being inspired by “Haute Dog”

  4. Nancy ADAMS Brubaker

    Daddy gave me the recipe, too…he was friends with the owner…don’t know if you do this or not, but to make really ‘fine’ [texture] hamburger to use, put your h-burg in large dish with cold water/ice cubes and hand manipulate the meat to get all of the fat our of it. That’s supposedly what the Texas Hot Dog place did. I miss them, too! Nancy ADAMS Brubaker

    • Hi Nancy: That is really interesting. I do remember the fine texture of the meat and I tried to duplicate that as best I could by mashing it while it cooked. Most likely I will not try the ice water method as I was satisfied enough with my attempt but I do appreciate your comments and this little
      tidbit of information. Thanks so much. Jeanne

  5. Betsy Bayer Johnson

    Memories…Oh sweet memories! Thank you Jeanne. I made this yesterday and Allen is in Heaven! We had some Texas Hotdogs several weeks ago when we were home. They now have an indoor shop. What Fun! Thanks Kiddo! Betsy B. Johnson

    • Thank you, Betsy for the feedback and comments. It is great to hear from you. Pleased to make you and Allen happy. I just began feeling nostalgic and had to try to recreate. I am thrilled to hear so many comments from Pennsylvanians. I must have done something right. Hope all is well with you two. Sending love, Jeanne

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