Ask and ye shall receive! This fun project started with a Facebook posts to my friends back in Crestview, Florida. I begged them to give me some ideas about what might be in the sauce from those irresistible burgers we love from our hometown dive: Coney Island! The replies were varied and numerous, so I wrote them all down on a piece of paper and headed to the kitchen to experiment. After a bit, I had what I think is a pretty decent copycat for folks like me who crave that greasy goodness but live too far away to do anything about it on the regular.
Be warned, I’m going to give you every step I did. You decide if you need to do every.single.one. At first I thought if I had the sauce down, I’d be fine, but turns out each family member had their own version of what was important to them about that burger. So, I’ve replicated it in its entirety as best as I could.
First, I suggest getting your mise en place. That means get all of your ingredients and cooking utensils ready. Learned that on Top Chef.
Disclaimer: This is not exact. I did a lot of adding and off the cuffing to get the consistency I wanted. I will perfect and repost. I can tell you next time I will make the sauce a day or few hours ahead of time to give the spices time to marry. Learned that on Top Chef, too.
Mix this well and set aside:
- 6 oz. can of tomato paste
- 1 1/2 cups water (add more if needed)
- 3 Tbsp. mustard
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp. pepper (more if needed)
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 4 shakes Louisiana hot sauce
I found that having a thin patty is important. So, I used a patty maker to really get it thin and even. You may want to spray it with Pam, mine did stick after a while and it took a minute to peel it off. I could also see plastic wrap working. You can get one here: Hamburger Press from Harbor Freight
Here’s a picture of mine:
Teeny Tiny dices. Dice it finely and then run your knife through it again. (Boy, that spoon has seen better days.)
At Coney Island, they credit their decades-old grill with being the secret to their addictive burgers. So much so that when it broke, they lamented over the new one they had to buy, that was not seasoned as the old grill. Baker School’s Welding Department fixed it right up for them, free of charge! If you don’t have a decades old grill, just use a cast iron skillet.
I preheated my skillet to medium high and when it was hot, I drizzled just a bit of vegetable oil on for that first set of burgers. While the skillet heats, nuke your buns for about 30 seconds to soften. I make 2 at a time. I place the patties on the grill, season them with season salt and then with my metal spatula, turned on its side, I start lightly chopping the burgers, to get them as flat as possible without breaking them up. Flip and cook another minute.
On top of burger sprinkle chopped onions, 1/4 cup of sauce (eyeball it, cover your meat) and then lay a piece of American cheese over that. When you see the cheese getting melty (that’s a word.), place bottom bun on top of meat and top bun on top of bottom bun. When done (for me it was a minute), take that top bun and scrape it along the skillet to sop up that juice and make your burger. Easy! But they go quick, so don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do too many at a time.
I had sauce left, so the next night we made hotdogs with it. I boiled the wienies to make them like Coney. Amazing!