My love for the chili dog runs deep. Spicy chili smothering a frankfurter along with crunchy pickle, diced onion, and a swirling of mustard is one of my beloved comfort foods. It traces its roots for me to a pick-up truck in a parking lot at four years old, but in a way, it goes back further.
There was a chili place in Des Moines where my mom and grandpa used to go. Sadly, her dad passed away before I had a chance to know him, but my mom told me stories about it often when I was a kid. With outdoor speakers for every parking space, their chili dogs were brought outside to them, while they sat in the car.
By the time I was alive, the place was rundown with an old light-up sign advertising “drive thru” as if that was a unique feature. (And at one time, it was.) But I liked to imagine it in its heyday, like some kind of 1950’s fueled dream, when sitting in your car eating wasn’t out of necessity, but rather, it was a social affair. I imagined girls in poodle skirts and guys in letterman jackets, hanging out by their cars and listening to bee-bop music while they noshed on chili dogs.
Today I’ve taken those chili dogs of yesteryear, and served them in pizza form.
The idea was borne out of a recent trip with friends to a local pizza place. The restaurant had a Chicago dog pizza on their specials menu with toppings of mayo, mustard, relish, and a layer of potato chips. It sounded kind of interesting or kind of gross. A friend ordered it, and sadly, it was the latter. While he nauseously tucked in to his pizza, we all brainstormed how that idea could become a winner. It was out of that discussion that the idea for a chili dog pizza was sparked.
Antithetical to the Chicago dog pizza, this chili dog pizza is downright crave-worthy.
This chili dog pizza is topped with the 3 bean chili I shared last week. It is then dotted with a veggie dog that has been sliced and browned. (Field Roast frankfurters are easily my preferred veggie dog, but if you have a favorite, use that instead.)
You can adorn the pizza before serving with diced onion, pickles, and swirls of yellow mustard. (Those are my go-to toppings.) Or you can let guests top their pizzas with their favorite coney toppings like sauerkraut or non-dairy cheese. It’s your call!
The base of this pizza is a Vicolo cornmeal crust. I always have them in the freezer for pizza emergencies. (They come two to a pack, and so you could easily double this recipe if you have a family of four.) The cornmeal crust works so beautifully with the chili. It’s like having chili and cornbread, but in the shape of pizza. You couldn’t ask for a better match.
One final word of advice: You may want to wait until after you’ve finished eating to put on your poodle skirt or letterman jacket. Things could get messy.