My hometown may be just a small south central Pennsylvania town, but it’s big on a lot of things. History happened here. The Revolutionary War, the Whiskey Rebellion, the Civil War – all of them have ties to little ole Carlisle.
The town is home to Dickinson College and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. And WORLD-FAMOUS car shows. Trust me on that – when you’re an exchange student to Finland, and your car enthusiast family knows exactly where you came from, it’s because car show.
A little-known secret beyond the immediate geographic area is that Carlisle is also home to one of the BEST hotdogs ever – The Hotchee. This isn’t just my opinion. They done did erect a damn plaque commemorating Hotchees.
So what, exactly, are these Hotchees that have been served up at the Hamilton Restaurant – often referred to by locals as simply ‘The Milton’ – since 1938?
Well, start with a grilled all-beef hot dog in natural casing – that snap of the dog truly matters! Snuggle it into a bun with a piece of American cheese (is it really cheese, though? Probably not, but go with it, anyway!).
Add yellow mustard. Nothing fancier. This is not a dog that should be dressed with a Dijon or a grainy brown. Basic yellow mustard only. Then top it with Hotchee sauce, which is a Greek-style chili sans beans. Lastly, pile it with a big heap of chopped white onions. If you’re in the mood for an indulgence, have some gravy fries on the side :).
Now, I wouldn’t dare try to improve on the Milton’s Hotchee, because there is zero improvement necessary. It is scrumptious perfection already. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t give it a twist, right? Or, rather, put a Hotchee twist on another guilty pleasure? And – BOOM – Hotchee dog egg rolls were born.
Let’s start with the dog itself. By nature, it has a higher fat content, which is awesome for flavor but not necessarily for not-soggy egg rolls. The high grease factor tends to make the wrappers mushy and more likely to fall apart during frying. So – word of caution – DO use a high-quality dog for this!
We use these Dietz & Watson dogs for ours, chopped and then fried until most of the fat is expressed but without turning them into the texture of an eraser.
After the frying, I rinse them in a colander and pat them dry with paper towels to get as much of the wrapper-destroying grease off as possible. I mix this with very finely chopped white onion and about two Tbsp (a couple good squirts) of yellow mustard. It should just have a very thin coating by this point – you just want the briefest of those flavors here.
Next is the tricky part. Unless you’re a Carlisle local, you don’t have access to REAL Hotchee sauce. You can try a commercially available hot dog chili sauce if you drain off most of the liquid. Or you can try making your own. This recipe from Allrecipes is close – add a pinch of cinnamon to better approximate actual Hotchee sauce.
I would avoid a hot-and-spicy type sauce – you really want a sauce heavy on meat and flavor and light on heat and liquid. Mix *just enough* of the sauce into the hot dog and onion combo to get it to stick together, because too much will cause that dreaded sogginess.
And — at last! — it’s time to assemble those tasty egg rolls! We use whatever brand wrappers are available in our local grocery store’s produce department. As you work, remember to keep the assembled rolls moist with a damp paper towel, as you will likely have to fry in batches.
Place each wrapper in front of you and add about 2 Tbsp of the Hotchee dog mixture. Then top with 1/2 a slice of American “cheese” :), roll egg-roll style, and brush the edges with egg white for a better seal.
You can do these in an air fryer – mine holds 4 or 5 at a time – at 350 for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Or you can use a deep fryer at 350 for 2-3 minutes per batch. Since everything inside is already cooked, you’re basically just chasing that golden-brown crispy crust.
Serve them up hot with warm Hotchee sauce (and extra yellow mustard and onion if desired). This batch was done in my air-fryer for comparison purposes with real Milton Hotchee sauce.
Okay, so I get it – these are just *basically* chili cheese dog egg rolls. But I’ve never seen them on anyone’s menu, and they darn sure should be!
Have fun creating your own. Go ahead and make ’em hot and spicy if that’s your thing, or make a pretty good version of the iconic Carlisle Hotchee sans egg roll.
Just remember, if you’re ever in the area, do yourself a favor and visit the H. A. Milton, home of the one and only Hot-Chee. Athan and Tommy will take excellent care of you – and don’t forget to order the gravy fries, too!
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