Today is National Rhode Island Day. By now we all know that Rhode Island isn’t an island at all, yet it’s inhabitants are never more than an hour’s drive to the shoreline. And rightly so, since the shores of Rhode Island are public lands.
Portsmouth, Rhode Island is home to the nation’s oldest one-room schoolhouse. The school was built in 1716. Portsmouth is also home to the oldest and most northern topiary garden in America. The Green Animals Topiary Garden boasts eighty sculpted trees that look like animals. If that isn’t enough, Portsmouth is also the first town in America established by a woman, Anne Hutchinson in 1638. That’s a lot of claims to fame for a town in the smallest state in the Union.
Rhode Island is the birthplace of the American Straw Hat Industry. A 12-year-old girl named Betsey Metcalf began making and selling her inexpensive straw hats in 1798. Betsey saw a bonnet in Providence, RI, and wanted to make one for herself. People in Providence taught her how to braid, and she in turn taught others. Over time, the interest in straw hats as a fashion accessory became a thriving business.
Rhode Island was the last of the 13 original Colonies to join the union. Today higher education is one of the state’s major industries. This tiny state has twelve colleges and universities. That’s a long, long way from a one-room schoolhouse.
Finally in the 1920s Anthony Stevens and his son Nicholas emigrated to the United States from Greece. They settled in Brooklyn, New York where they operated a candy shop. Sometime in the late 1930s the Stevens moved their entire family to Rhode Island, where they opened a small restaurant that served Hot Wieners. Hot Wieners are what the Cheesesteak is to Philly, Barbecue to Kansas City and street tacos to Los Angeles. So much a part of the Rhode Island culinary psyche, even Santa is a fan.
For the real deal, you’ll want to find honest to goodness Wieners from a good deli. If not, a good quality hot dog would be a close second.
Rhode Island Hot Wieners
2 medium Onions, divided
1/4 cup Butter, cubed
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons Paprika
2 tablespoons Chili Powder
3 teaspoons ground Cumin
1 teaspoon ground Mustard
3/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Allspice
1 lb Ground Beef
1/4 cup Water
8 Wieners (or Hot Dogs)
8 Hot Dog Buns
Butter as needed
Peel and finely chop 1 onion, set aside.
In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook and until tender, about 3 or 4 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and seasonings. Add beef; crumble and cook until no longer pink, about 6 or 7 minutes. Stir in water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes.
While the meat topping cooks, finely dice remaining onion, set aside.
In a large skillet, cook hot dogs over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned, turning occasionally.
Split hot dog buns, brush with a little butter and place under a broiler to toast buns for a minute or two. Place grilled hot dogs into the buns. Squire on the mustard, top with meat sauce and diced raw onions. Sprinkle with celery salt, serve and enjoy.