Monday, December 29, 2008

The Secret's in the Sauce

With New Years coming up, the last of the parties and family gatherings will be bringing this holiday season to a close. But whether you're hosting a cocktail party of just snoozing in the new year at home, one of everyone's favorite party foods is the ubiquitous cocktail wiener. I know it seems a little, how shall I say this--Un-fancy--but face it, they're always the first to go at any gathering that has them--partly, I think, because of the recognition factor, and partly because they're actually good if done well.

While the simplest way to serve these is just heated up and then put on a plate with toothpicks stuck in them, the most popular way to do these is probably swimming in barbeque sauce.

I've discovered a secret, though, to a sauce that looks and tastes similar to bbq sauce, but tastes better, somehow, without anyone being able to put their finger on the difference. Unless they're in the Secret Southern Society of Cocktail Wiener Servers, of course.

My secret? Don't use barbeque sauce, use chili sauce. No, not chili, chili sauce. It comes in a bottle, right next to the cocktail sauce and the tartar sauce, between the ketchup and the worchestershire. Buy one bottle of chili sauce for every package or cocktail wieners you're planning to serve.

My next secret? Parboil the wieners first, before you put them in the sauce. Just put them in a pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for just a minute or two, then drain the water off. This gets out some of the excess fat.

Next, add one bottle of chili sauce and a couple of tablespoons of grape jelly to your pan, and heat on low to medium heat, stirring until the jelly is dissolved. Add the cocktail wieners, bring to a bubble, and simmer on the lowest possible heat.

Another secret? Don't just pour sauce on them, heat, and serve. Let them simmer for a while in the sauce, and let the sauce darken and reduce just a little bit. You don't want syrup, but you do want it to thicken just slightly. If you have one of those little crock-pots, put wieners and sauce and all in it and let them cook on low for awhile. Take the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so to allow some evaporation and the sauce will thicken right up.

Try this one out, without telling anyone that you're using a different sauce. They won't be able to tell what's different, they'll just be able to taste a subtle something that I think sets these apart.

Good cooking, and good eating!


  1. My mom did this same sauce but for meatballs.

  2. I'd forgottehn about it, but I've used it with meatballs, too!