We’ve now published the full menu for our upcoming Tastes of the Midwest dinner, but one of the things that we haven’t publicized is the list of recipes culled from old Midwestern cookbooks that we’re offering to chefs as inspiration. We thought it might make interesting reading for foodies, native Midwesterners, and newcomers alike:
Barberton Chicken—large cuts of fresh chicken that are hand-breaded and deep fried in lard to order. Specialty of Barberton, Ohio.
Beef tongue in sweet-sour sauce—boiled beef tongue with an almond-raisin-lemon juice sauce. Chicago.
Beer cheese soup—an English favorite imported to the Midwest, where popcorn was added as a garnish.
Birch water / foods made with birch syrup
Blue Satin Soup—cheese soup, chicken-broth based, made with Maytag cheese. (Recipe I have is from the wife of the president of Maytag Dairy Farms in Iowa)
Boiled dressing—classic Midwestern salad dressing consisting of sugar, dry mustard, salt, water, cider vinegar and eggs. Made ahead and mixed with a bit of sweet or sour cream before serving.
Booyah—a minestrone-like stew made of meat and vegetables and simmered for many hours to let the flavors intermingle. Traditional in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, most often at church or community fundraisers—firefighters, the VFW, etc.
Braunschweiger—paté of pork, cream, spices, and liver; the Midwest’s smoky version of foie gras terrine.
Cheese custard—Wisconsin, of course.
Chicken Pot Pie
Chicken Vesuvio—chicken on the bone and wedges of potato, celery, and carrots; sauteed with garlic, oregano, white wine, and olive oil, then baked until the chicken’s skin becomes crisp. Italian; Chicago.
Chislic—appetizer of marinated, deep-fried lamb cubes native to southeastern South Dakota, most likely popularized by German-Russian immigrants.
Cincinnati chili—horribly misnamed meat sauce for pasta, with Mediterranean spices.
Cisco, or lake herring—The Culinary Handbook (1904) lists battered fillets, broiled cisco with lemon parsley sauce, and sauteed cisco
City Chicken—a veal/pork dish designed to look like chicken drumsticks, from a time when chicken was more expensive than veal or pork.
Cold Cherry Soup—based on cold-fruit soups brought to the Midwest by Scandinavian and Central European immigrants.
Cracker crust pizza—yeastless pizza with a very thin, crisp crust, cut into squares or rectangles.
Eggs in a Nest—eggs with scallion and bacon, set into a “nest” of mashed potato and baked.
Fiskbollar—steamed fish balls, from Swedish immigrants to Minnesota.
Floating island—merengues floating in custard. Kansas.
Fried bologna sandwich—a specialty of the G&R Tavern in Waldo, Ohio, which serves it with Monterey Jack, raw onions, and pickles.
Fried smelt—found pretty much anywhere in the Midwest where there are smelt, served up by churches and service organizations like the Lions Club.
Game birds—grouse, prairie hen, ptarmigan. Done all sorts of ways.
Goetta—Cincinnati meat porridge, like scrapple in PA but with oats instead of corn. Really good.
Graham bread—a Michigan specialty, a quick bread with a taste that resembles graham crackers.
Grandma’s Waistline—chuck roast, cut into strips and slow-cooked with beans, onions, and potatoes. Basically pot roast with a great name.
Green tomato pie—sliced green tomatoes, lemon juice, grated lemon rind, sugar, touch of cinnamon and salt, cooked, cooled, put into a pie crust, covered with pastry, and baked.
Hickory nut pie—similar to pecan: chopped hickory nuts, light corn syrup, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt, poured into a pie crust and baked.
Hospital soup—caraway-beef broth soup created by Indiana Hungarians who swear by its medicinal qualities.
Italian Beef—the true Chicago sandwich; super-thin-sliced roast beef dripping with juice on an Italian roll, often with a fennel-spiked pork sausage to accompany the beef. Topped with giardiniera or sauteed, green Italian sweet peppers.
Jackson County veal—actually breaded pork, fried and served with pickles on a small bun. (What is it with Midwesterners and calling one kind of meat by another’s name?)
Jansson’s Temptation—named after a minister who allegedly abandoned his vows of asceticism after tasting it. French Fry-cut potatoes layered in a casserole dish, covered with thin-sliced onions and anchovies, then more potatoes, and finally light cream and butter, then baked until done.
Johnny Marzetti—a pasta dish consisting of macaroni noodles, tomato sauce, cheese and ground beef. Said to have originated in Columbus, though opinions differ.
Kalakukho—rye-crusted fish pie made by Finnish immigrants to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Kalamojakka—a creamy fish stew invented by Finnish immigrants to the Midwest as a way to use leftover fish. Modern-day Finns have never heard of it.
Kalvdans—first-milk pudding, made from the colostrum-rich first milk of a cow after her calf is born. Baked in the oven until it develops the solid texture of a ricotta cheesecake.
Kroppkaka—potato-flour dumpling boiled in ham-flavored water, from Minnesota Swedes.
Liederkranz cheese—ripe, strong cheese first produced in Van Wert, Ohio.
Made-Rite sandwiches—loose-meat sandwiches with onion, pickle, and mustard, from Greenville, OH.
Meat loaf—staple of American cooking, likely originating with German settlers in the Midwest.
Midwestern fish pudding—casserole of fish, saltine crumbs, salt, cream, butter, and egg whites.
Onion pie—an Indiana specialty created by central European immigrants.
Pasties—meat hand pies filled with diced potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, onions, apples, and ground beef, brought to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and refined by Cornish immigrants.
Peas or cabbage cooked in milk.
Persimmon pudding: Mix 3 eggs with 2c persimmon pulp and add 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of sugar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 2 teaspoons of combined sweet spices— cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and allspice. Beat in 3 cups of milk, one cup at a time. Bake on sheet for 1 hr.
Pounded cheese—softened chunks of cheese whipped with butter until smooth and topped with walnuts and port syrup. Found in early American cookbooks; imported by English immigrants.
Rømmegrøt—a traditional Norwegian cream pudding made by reducing the cream until beads of butter appear at the edges, which are skimmed off and used to garnish the final pudding.
Royal toast—pan-fried bread rings topped with a sautéed and simmered mixture of chicken livers, smoked tongue, veal or chicken, garlic, stock, white wine, and aromatics, then topped with the pan-fried circle of bread from the center of the ring. Ohio.
Rullepølse—a spiced, brined, pork-and-beef terrine popular in the Scandinavian parts of the Midwest, especially around Christmas.
Runzas—yeasted meat hand pies made popular by German-Russian immigrants in Nebraska.
Senate White Bean Soup—actually has Midwestern roots: Senator Knute Nelson of Minnesota mandated that this soup be served every day in the Senate dining room.
Shrimp de Jonghe—originated in a Chicago restaurant circa 1900. Shrimp topped with butter, garlic, parsley, paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper, bread crumbs and sherry and then baked.
Shrimp wiggle—shrimp and peas cooked in a cream sauce.
Slumgullion—macaroni and ground beef with onion, green pepper, tomato sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
Smoked lake trout baked in cream—from an old book of Midwestern frontier food. Trout baked in a cream bath, sprinkled with lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne, and served on bread.
Smoked whitefish—traditional treat especially around Lake Superior.
Stewed rhubarb—1″ slices of rhubarb stewed in water, sugar, lemon juice, and a little salt to the consistency of thin preserves.
Stuffed eggs / deviled eggs
Sweet and sour crockpot meatballs—a Midwestern potluck staple.
Sunday supper eggs—rice and chopped onion cooked in chicken broth, topped with grated cheese, salt, pepper, and paprika, and topped with eggs. (Illinois)
Tenderloin sandwich—pounded-tender pork tenderloin, deep fried and put on a bun, with mustard, lettuce, onions, etc. Indiana and Iowa.
Thuna—creamed spinach thickened with sweet cream and a little flour and baked in corn-stick pans.
“Toasted ravioli”—actually, breaded and deep-fried; a St. Louis dish.
Tomatoes with cheese—breaded and fried tomato slices, covered with a thickened milk sauce and grated cheese and broiled until brown. Ohio.
Veal balls with sour cream—veal/scallion meatballs, breaded and fried, covered with sour cream-onion-Tabasco sauce. Nebraska.
Veal birds—veal cutlet, stuffed with sage and onion and rolled to look like quail.
Wilted salad—lettuce leaves cut in 1″ strips, with scallions and crumbled bacon, and put in a bowl; to bacon grease, add apple cider vinegar, water, and optionally sugar; heat until very hot, pour over lettuce, and place skillet atop bowl for 5-6 minutes. Indiana.