Welcome to JayPo’s Penalty Boxed Lunch where we explore food from around the country! This week’s fifth official entry comes from the (should be a State) District of Columbia and features a tubed meat with onions and chili on a bun...the DC Half-Smoke!
Local to our national’s capitol, the “half-smoke” is a sausage with half pork, half beef (smoked) and topped on a bun with chili, onions and mustard. I’ve taken the trip and visited the infamous Ben’s Chili Bowl in DC and can say their preparation was absolutely outstanding.
How I Made It!
I HAD to order the half-smoke directly from the source and wasn’t let down by Ben’s. It arrived with their sausages and their chili. HOWEVER, I wanted to make my own chili. I won’t give out my secret chili recipe, but it was absolutely fantastic. I toasted my buns and made two different version. Yes, I did put yellow mustard on this and thankfully barely tasted any of it. I will say, I enjoyed my chili-cheese version better than the one with just chili and onions.
I didn’t lie. Sandwich #2 of the week is DC’s Half-Smoke. It’s a cross between a hotdog and sausage. Best is from Ben’s Chili Bowl which I imported! Did a hot half smoke with homemade chili, onions and mustard. The other was a reg with just chili and shredded cheese. Soooo good. pic.twitter.com/faCI660pjn— Jason Polinsky (@Jay_Poozle) August 11, 2021
What Does a Local Think? (Thanks to Jonathan from Japers’ Rink)
Do you think half-smoke represents your state accurately?
DC is not a state. It should be, of course, but it isn’t because of assholes. And yeah, halfsmoke is as DC as it gets. But is it even a sandwich? It is not. Therefore, it does not qualify as the District’s signature sandwich. I’d lobby for Red Apron Butcher’s Beef and Cheddar during normal times, but these ain’t normal times, so I’ll go along with the premise... under protest.
How do you make your sandwich?
I take my halfsmoke with jalapeno, diced white onion and yellow mustard. Nothing too fancy, don’t need to drown it in chili and cheese - let the sausage speak for itself.
How did I do?
That said... you’ve put together a couple of mighty fine looking non-sandwiches. Let’s be honest - the degree of difficulty was pretty low, but, by the looks of it, you nailed it. Definitely a fork-and-knifer. Or not.
Where do you order your favorite half smoke?
Most people would say Ben’s, and that’s certainly the most popular spot for them... but Meats and Foods is better. It just is.