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Iowa - Regional Food ideas anyone???

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We have set 2012 as a year of weekly theme dinners for our family. This year we are doing the fifty states (as my fourth grader is studying the states and since this is the fifth time we've done the states unit... we are trying something different to keep our sanity). As part of our dinners, we have state trivia (capital, flag, birds and other facts), decorations (to the extent we can) and foods that are typical of the area. We've done Hawaii and Alabama so far.

Our next state is Iowa - ideas for regional foods anyone?

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  1. Pork tenderloin sandwiches are probably the first thing I think of. Basically a hunk of pork loin that is butterflied and pounded thin. The most discussed are pounded out to the size of a dinner plate, breaded and fried and served on a hamburger bun that seems ridiculously small compared with the sandwich. Maybe with corn and edamame to celebrate the major ag products here (not that what most farmers grow is intended for direct consumption by people).

    2 Replies
    1. re: corneygirl

      The loosemeat/maid-rite/made-right sandwich is not complicated, and the only ingredients are ground beef and salt with a steamed bun.

      A huge portion of Iowa soybeans are exported to China, up to a quarter of the whole deal someday according to forecasts. So its like Iowa is growing ingredients for Chinese food.

      1. re: corneygirl

        I bet the corn and soy would make a tasty succotash...

      2. Seconding the loose meat/Maid Rite. I'll also throw in a vote for Happy Joe's pizza. Though they're in other states, the chain started in Bettendorf. They claim to be the originators of taco pizza. I miss it.

        1. Wow... this would be a list of things that I miss about Iowa;

          pork tenderloins
          loose meat sandwiches
          Muscatine Melons
          taco pizza (best I've ever had are in Iowa)
          Maytag Blue Cheese
          smoked carp (if you can find it anywhere)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Lawman

            I think you should consider the "Iowa Chop." It is ubiquitous in Iowa supermarkets. A very thick, bone-in pork loin chop with the tenderloin attached. If it's not too cold where you are you could grill it as per tradition. Often served with a side of apple sauce.

            Also, if you're going to make the "maid rite" loose beef sandwich, the meat should be steamed, not skillet cooked. Add salt and a sweet bun, pickles, chopped onion and mustard. No ketchup allowed on a real maid rite. Put more meat on the bun than the bun can handle and give everyone a spoon. (yeah, I grew up in Marshalltown).

            Iowa boasts the largest ice cream factory in the world in Wells Blue Bunny so get yourself some tin roof sundae or bunny tracks for desert.

          2. Steak De Burgo is rarely seen outside of the state. If it is, it was brought by someone from here.
            There are many variations, but the basic is a beef tenderloin covered in a garlic butter sauce.
            I believe the original, from Johnny and Kay's, also used cream in the sauce.
            Try google. It is the only thing that was started here, and remains here, that I know of.

            1. Des Moines has Steak Deburgo

              Something I always find odd is that pink champagne cake is apparently an Iowa/midwest only kind of thing.

              3 Replies
              1. re: vitus979

                what is this champagne cake? i'm in minneapolis and have never heard of it...

                1. re: soupkitten

                  Soup: IMHO, there is only one place that made an excellent champagne cake. Here is a brief story about it: http://www.barbaraschampagnecakes.com/

                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                    many thanks! they are very pretty, i'll have to try one some time.

              2. The sour cream raisin pie speaks Iowan to me and you can get the best at the Farmer's Kitchen in Atlantic, Iowa. They also serve an outstanding breaded pork tenderloin sandwich.

                http://www.farmerskitchen.net/

                1. Although the corn you will see growing along most Iowa roads is inedible to humans, some very good sweet corn is grown here (and available during the summer). Also, morel mushrooms can be found in the wild in a few weeks and are a phenomenal regional delicacy .... Iowa is also well-known for high quality corn-fed beef and La Quenceria Prosciutto and Van De Rose Farms Bacon, which are both made from special heirloom hogs. I assume the pork products can be purchased on-line.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                    La Quercia -- not La Quenceria. They have a website:
                    http://laquercia.us/

                    1. re: ctscorp

                      Just FYI, the prosciutto made by La Quercia is called "La Quenceria" ...

                      1. re: hawkeyeui93

                        The host of America's Test Kitchen tv show hated, in no uncertain terms, the prosciutto produced by the Iowa company. Funny thing is, it won the audience taste test.

                        1. re: IowaBoy

                          I just tried some and thought it was much less pungent than "real" prosciutto. So maybe that's why the ATK didn't like it? It had the mouthfeel I look for in prosciutto, but not the deep umami flavor.