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Swing state dishes

Every election we hold a no partisan political discussion to educate each other about all ballot items - and of course we throw dinner for 30-50 people, served buffet style. We've done Mexican several times, California cuisine, middle eastern.

This year I thought it would be fun to do a "swing state theme"

Here are the swing states - help me identify dishes that are unique to those states. OK if you don't have a recipe.

Florida: Key lime pie
New Mexico
North Carolina

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  1. Buckeyes from Ohio, of course. (Peanut butter candy half-dipped in chocolate.)
    NC barbecue no question
    When I think of Iowa I always think of rhubarb pie, which is a constant in the restaurants around Amana or at least used to be.
    Michigan - pasties
    Lots in New Mexico and Pennsylvania - others will have specifics.
    Wisconsin CHEESE, of course!

    1. pennsylvania isn't much of a swing state. . . but i would recommend skipping the cheese steak.

      go with haluski. it isn't completely unique to pa, it shows up where ever you have a bunch of slovaks and pollocks.

      1. Florida: grouper chowder, Minorcan chowder, Cuban sandwich (Tampa vs Miami style is a whole 'nother debate topic!), Greek salad Louis Pappas style

        Iowa - Loose meat sandwich

        Michigan - cherry something

        North Carolina - bbq, Brunswick stew

        Wisconsin - fried cheese curds! Hot dish

        Virginia - Cream of peanut butter soup, Smithfield Ham

        2 Replies
        1. re: meatn3

          Also, conch fritters and conch chowder for FL.

          Great call on the Iowa loose meat sandwich (AKA Maid-rites). I spent a year in Gainesville FL, and there was a loose-meat sandwich shop run by an ex-Iowan. Really good and reasonably healthy.

          Here in VA, we just refer to Peanut Soup. I was quite dubious, but I like it a lot.

          For NC, you've gotta pick a style of bbq -- Eastern or Western/Lexington.

          1. re: Bob W

            Steamers! Right across the street from the UF campus.

        2. Here is a link that did not come up in my initial search. I should know to use the google site search feature instead of embedded search engines!


          1. Michigan is pretty solidly blue these days, but if you want a Michigan recipe you can't go wrong with sour cherry pie. Pasties are also good, as are coneys (Detroit style).

            For North Carolina, you might try Eastern NC bbq, which is pulled pork with a vinegar-based sauce.

            1. You are missing New Hampshire, which is a swing state this year. The "swing" part of the state are the new arrivals so not sure what food items make sense to represent.

              Traditional could be cod cakes, poutine, split pea soup, or pancakes with Grade B NH maple syrup.

              1. This is a great idea, although I think the map is a lot less expansive than the media popularly holds. That said, I'd go for:

                Colorado - Coors beer
                Florida - oranges
                Iowa - pork tenderloin
                Michigan - cherry pie
                Ohio - Cincy chili
                Pennsylvania - Pepper pot or scrapple
                New Mexico - Green chilies
                Nevada - funeral potatoes
                North Carolina - Pulled pork
                Wisconsin - Fried cheese curds or brats
                Virginia - Virginia ham or peanuts

                1. PA- eastern part of state:soft pretzels with mustard (+ coffee= a popular Philly breakfast), Italian hoagies, scrapple, roast pork with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone on a roll, tastycakes
                  Western Pa: kielbasa and kraut, giant fish sandwiches, chipped ham BBQ, Sarris' candy, fried provolone sticks ( not mozzarella!!) long peppers stuffed with hot sausage, covered with red sauce and cheese and baked, smiley cookies from eat n park.

                  1. Ohio: Shaker lemon pie
                    New Mexico: Stacked enchiladas
                    Wisconsin: Beer!

                    1. Arizona might be closer than some of those states, so how about Sonoran Hot Dogs? Never had one but they look great!

                      1. As a native Wisconsinite, I'll weigh in on that one: Cheese curds are great, but if you are doing a buffet, it will probably be hard to fry them and keep them tasty. I think an easier option might be a cheese plate of Wisconsin cheese--and cheese curds. Or, if you would rather incorporate the cheese into the dish, I'd suggest a macaroni and cheese, or a beer-cheese soup. Of course, bratwursts would also work here, with a good sauerkraut. Or, you could always go dessert and do Wisconsin's 'official dessert' -- cream puffs.

                        1. Ohio - Johnny Marzetti, a macaroni type casserole dish using tomatoes, ground beef and lots of cheese.

                          2 cups Dry elbow macaroni (or 3 cups cooked macaroni)
                          1 tbsp Vegetable oil
                          1/2 cup Chopped onion
                          1 cup Chopped green bell pepper
                          1 lb Lean ground beef
                          1 tsp Salt
                          1 tsp Italian seasoning
                          1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
                          1/4 cup Slivered sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
                          One 28 oz can Diced tomatoes (do not drain)
                          1/4 cup Chopped fresh parsley
                          1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

                          Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add dry macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain.

                          In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, add onions and peppers and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add ground beef, salt, Italian seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and sauté mixture until meat is thoroughly cooked, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add sundried tomatoes, diced tomatoes and parsley and simmer on low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

                          Sprinkle in Parmesan cheese and gently mix. Top all with cheddar cheese

                          1. For NC, if you want to stay away from Eastern Carolina BBQ (always pork and vinegar-based), consider shrimp 'n grits, pimento cheese sandwiches, hushpuppies, cheese straws, banana pudding, jello salad, and cheerwine.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: TerryG

                              oh wow cheerwine. delicious soft drink, but can you get it outside of NC? Dr Pepper might be a sub. second pimento cheese, hushpuppies, cheese straws, and banana pudding.

                            2. New Mexico: Hatch Chili Verde - as in Pork Chili Verde or Green Chili stacked enchiladas.