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What dishes would you characterize as "Midwestern" and could you give a recipe for one of these dishes, please? (If you can't give a recipe, that's okay, but it would be helpful.)

I never know whether to put questions like the one above in "Home Cooking" or "General," but since I am asking for recipes, I have put it in "Home Cooking." I'd like to prepare some typical midwestern foods for some foreign friends. (I live in Florida, but I grew up in Indiana.) The trouble is that I am having difficulty coming up with a a list. Michael Symon of Lola and Lolita fame features pierogies and walleyed pike, but what else? Casseroles are fine. This does not have to be fancy cooking. Thanks.

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  1. Chicken booyah.
    Lotta milk & meat dishes.

    Look at "I hear america cooking" for recipes.

    12 Replies
    1. re: Chowrin

      Huh. Never heard of booya with chicken. Always oxtail here in MN.


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I grew up in Indiana and now live in Minnesota, and I NEVER heard the word "booya" until I moved here. Not an Indiana thing, as far as my experience shows.

        EDIT: TDQ, this probably shouldn't have been directed at you - sorry!

        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          Not always. Growing up in/around the self-proclaimed Booya capital of the world in MN, I've seen plenty of booya with chicken in it (or some combination of chicken, stew meat, oxtail). Booya pretty much means just dumping anything and everything you've got in there collecting ingredients from your neighbors to feed the whole community, so I've rarely seen it limited to just oxtail. Now some who might enter a contest might have an actual recipe they use and maybe they limit it, but plenty of the booya feeds around MN use chicken.

          1. re: amishangst

            Obviously, I need to branch out and investigate more booya!


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              I never heard of booya until I was out of college and living in Green Bay, another place where booya is a big deal.

            2. re: amishangst

              I was a junior cook in Minneapolis in the '60's. Never heard if it.

              Hotdish I have familiarity with.

              And "relish dishes" that *must* contain canned jumbo black olives and sweet pickle slices.

              And wonder bread stacked high on a plate at every meal.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                I believe that booya is a East Metro & Wisconsin thing.

                What is a junior cook?


                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Booya is a combination soup/stew that is prepared in big kettles on propane burners. Churches and service club are the sponsors most of the time People come with their own containers such as ice cream buckets to bring the booya home to eat and freeze. It has been my experience that booya in the St. Paul area is an autumn tradition while it is a spring tradition in Green Bay. I don't know if booya is made outside of those two cities.


                  I don't think booya ever made it across the river to Minneapolis.

                  Thankfully, the Wonderbread tradition seems to have passed, even though Wonderbread came back from the dead four weeks ago.

              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                Just looked at the booya recipe in Amy Thielen's book (I think it's also on the food network site). No oxtail at all! Yes, chicken!


              3. re: Chowrin

                agree with Sandy -- I don't know what booyah is...

                1. re: DebinIndiana

                  Wow, I just googled on booya (images) and an old chowhound post of mine came up. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4418...

                  It's a stew prepared for large groups, for fundraisers, community gatherings, or large family groups.

                  St. Paul actually has a booya shed that houses several (5, I think) gigantic booya kettles. The entire shed and the nearby dining hall are available for rental.

                  Photos of a serving of booya and of one of kettles are in my old (linked) post.


              4. The Midwest is such a vast place and it's hard to answer this question without sounding cliche. This time of year, anything with squash or root vegetables (beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips etc.) or apples. Maybe banana bread. Something in a bundt cake pan. Meatloaf. Pork and apples and sauerkraut. German potato salad. Swedish meatballs. Beer cheese soup if you're in Wisconsin. Anything sausage if you're in Wisconsin. Wild rice soup if you're in Minnesota. Anything with rhubarb (just saw someone across the alley harvesting my neighbors.) Loosemeat sandwiches if you're in Iowa. Runza if you're in Nebraska. Pasties with rutabega. Porketta. Braises, roasts, mashed potatoes and various and sundry other root vegetable purees. Pickled anything--herring, eggs, cukes, beets... Coffee cake. Caramel rolls. Pie. Ham loaf. Fish fry. Smoked fish. Soups, stews. Spaetzle. Dumplings. Anything with wild game. And, yes, hot dish.


                144 Replies
                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  TDQ - I find your list interesting, for a few reasons. I too am in Minnesota (though not native), and I've seen this question (or more specifically targeted to "Minnesota dishes",

                  When I hear a question "what dish characterizes place X", I tend to think about what is that area known for, and what dishes are unique to an area, i.e., the dish originated there and you'll, in general, find the best representations of that dish there. Philly = cheesesteaks and scrapple; Boston = clam chowder; Louisiana = gumbo, jambalaya, an po boys; NC = pulled pork; French Alps = gratin dauphinois; Milan = risotto; Bergamo = polenta; etc.

                  Many of the dishes you mentioned above are found in many other areas - root vegetables, meatloaf, pork and sauerkraut, sausages, rhubarb, pasties, porketta, braises and roasts, etc. What makes those "midwestern"? Folks all around the US make those, and none of those originated here, are unique to the midwest, or are best exemplified in the midwest. I'm not trying to be argumentative, rather trying to figure out what makes a dish characterize an area in general, and what dishes really do characterize the midwest (and Minnesota specifically). Maybe for MN the leading candidates would be wild rice soup (though wild rice dishes are prevalent in other areas of the US), and some sort of a walleye dish. Beer cheese soup would be a great one for Wisconsin, I don't think I've ever seen it elsewhere. Not sure what else?

                  It's an interesting question, and one that I often ask myself for Minnesota specifically, and don't come up with many answers.

                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    First of all, I don't think the question the OP asked: "What dishes would you characterize as "Midwestern" is the same as the way you've rephrased it "What dish characterizes the Midwest." Not the same question. I'm not saying you can't interpret the question that way, but I don't think it's necessarily even the primary interpretation of the question.

                    Second of all, as I said in my answer, the Midwest is a vast place. I've lived in 3 Midwestern states (and on both coasts) and my parents have lived in two Midwestern states in addition to those. And, I'd say that even food that might be typical in one part of the Midwest isn't necessarily typical in another.

                    And I answered the question (mostly--there are few outliers, such as banana bread) two ways: 1) what food stuff is local and in season here and what, therefore, are most "Midwesterners" eating right now and that would be fruits and vegetables are in season right now and foods that are warm and hearty and appealing this time of year and 2) what kinds of ethnic groups settled here and the dishes they brought with them and the derivations thereof that seemed to have taken root. On this second point, you could really keep going and going and going...

                    The bundt cake pan (and the foley cake pan) were invented in Minnesota, so I count that.

                    And yeah, the crappy green bean casseroles and the icky jello "salads" (and the myriad of other dishes that go by the name "salad" here) do show up at a lot of potlucks, but I don't eat them and I wouldn't serve them to my friends, foreign or otherwise, when there are so many other more delicious foods that many Midwesterners eat every day.

                    ETA: walleye is a real thing, of course, but you pretty much have to fish it yourself out of a lake.

                    And I think I might disagree with your comment that none of the foods I listed are "are best exemplified in the midwest" though I agree many didn't originate here and aren't necessarily unique to here.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      as someone dating a native minnesotan - who is actually kind of a foodie, and has reasonably good taste, luckily! - we get a huge laugh out of the episode of how i met your mother where lily and marshall visit his family in minnesota, and lily has to make the "salad" with mayonnaise and potato chips in it!

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        TDQ, I found the question interesting because in 10+ years of living in MN, I haven't yet found any food that originated in MN or is best exemplified in MN, with exception of walleye (maybe kinda), wild rice soup, and maidrite (which I heard of just a few weeks ago).

                        Yes, multiple ways to interpret the OP's question. I stated my interpretation because I've seen that interpretation often asked, and I ask it myself. So I'm interested in the answer. Given your interpretation, it could as easily be "what foods characterize the US or many other nations", because braises, roasts, and sausages are found worldwide. So what sets the Midwest apart there?

                        Those same ethnic groups are all over the US, and so are those foods. Sausages? Braises? Roasts? Pork with apples? Everywhere in the US. Not special to the midwest.

                        Yes, I find green bean casserole and jello salad to be crappy too, and I'd never serve them, but I've seen those only in the midwest, and not either on east coast where I grew up, or the west coast where I lived a few years. Other areas of the US have their crappy foods, and the midwest has GBC and jello salad. For something typically midwestern, those are that. I don't see what makes pork, sausages, braises, roasts, and kraut midwestern, because I grew up with that in NJ.

                        Interesting about the Bundt pan, didn't know it was MN. I never heard of the foley cake pan either, so good education there, thanks!

                        As for the best exemplified, I'd like to know which you think are in the midwest. I'd love to know so I can try those; there are very few things I won't eat, so trying the best variations of any food is something I'm always interested in. Especially anything in MN, given we're state-mates!

                        1. re: foreverhungry

                          I'm sorry, but I'm just not as interested in what dishes set the Midwest apart as interesting or meaningful as you. Just because something isn't exclusive to a place doesn't mean it's not typical or delicious or legitimate in that place. I do definitely find value in the question of what's best here and that's a lot of what Iisted in my first post in this thread (and why I didn't mention jello salad or green bean casserole) and tried to expand on in my first reply to you.

                          You and I seem to disagree on what foods are "best" exemplified" in the Midwest. I think if you take locally-raised meats and produce in season in fall (which is now and now is when the OP is trying to serve a dinner to her friends) and braise or roast them (which are the cooking methods I turn to most this time of year), the resulting dish will be as good or better than anywhere else in the world. And I tried not to list out of season foods like corn, because the OP's trying to cook a meal for her friends now.

                          Also I think the tradition of minding and cooking with the seasons is fundamentally Midwestern. On the West Coast, for instance, where the seasons are less distinct, the climate mild and the growing season long, you don't have the same culture around waiting anxiously for that first asparagus, or the first baby lettuces and spinach, the first tomatoes and finally the long slide into the produce that can over winter.

                          Personally, I'm not sure it's possible to know who made the first tater tot hot dish or sloppy joes or whatever. I think that is the purview of serious culinary historians and they have yet to sort it out. The Minnesota Historical Society has lots of books on local food history that look at the kinds of dishes I think you're trying to hone in on, but I still think they haven't really been able to pin down actual origins of these kinds of dishes:

                          Hot Dish Heaven:

                          Bundt Cake Bliss:

                          Potluck Paradise:

                          There had been a lot of overlap and movement of people across state lines, etc. in recent generations, not to mention huge waves of immigration.

                          And I'm not sure I'm willing to separate the ethnic foods from the home countries of the people who settled here several generations ago and then lovingly passed it down to their descendants who live here today and continue to breathe life into it and isolate it from the rest of the local food culture.

                          And, sadly, I think you may have to strike maid-rites off of your short list. It is simply the trademarked name for loosemeat sandwiches and it's Iowan.

                          As far as wild rice and walleye. Wild rice is sacred to the Ojibwe (kind of their version of manna from heaven) and while wild rice is grown elsewhere in the U.S. (such as the vastly inferior cultivated and oxymoronic wild rice grown in CA), the particular traditional method the Ojibwe use to hand-harvest actual wildly growing on actual lakes, then manually parching it is unique. Red Lake is also home to the only commercial walleye fishery in the U.S. All other walleye commercially obtained is from Canada. Or you have to fish it yourself. I only think walleye is discussed so often in MN because of our lake culture and our love of sport fishing.

                          It's easier to list trademarked or commercially food products: apples invented at the UofM included haralson, honeycrisp, zestar, sweetango; Milky Way; Pearsons Salted Nut Rolls and Nut Goodies; SPAM; Bisquick; Wheaties; Malto-Meal; Bundt cakes; Totino's Pizza Rolls. Or those that restaurants point to: hot dago sandwich and jucy lucy (and I no one can really claim that someone somewhere else wasn't stuffing burgers with cheese these past 50 years, but certainly nowhere else calls or spells it jucy lucy).

                          Wikipedia looks at Midwesern cuisine this way: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midweste...

                          Perhaps another way to look at it are by state foods. Minnesota's are: milk, blueberry muffin, morel mushroom, honeycrisp apple, and wild rice.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            TDQ - great point about the seasons.

                            I always think of jams as midwestern, as my grandmother put them up in the summer to enjoy in the winter. And now, so do I.

                          2. re: foreverhungry

                            My family from VT and CT always used to make gelatin salad, jello mold for Thanksgiving. So few people ate it that it is no longer on the menu. While traditionally green in later years we always used red or orange so more people would eat it.

                            1. re: foreverhungry

                              I grew up in eastern NC in the '80s and had family in the Piedmont region that we would visit frequently. Potlucks in both areas of the state would frequently feature green bean casserole. Believe me, the midwest does have sole claim to canned veggies baked in a pan with canned cream soup and topped with either breadcrumbs or fried onions.

                              Wild rice soup however is something I have never heard of.

                              1. re: The Big Crunch

                                Wild rice soup, I have to say, is TOTALLY delicious when made from scratch.

                                1. re: The Big Crunch

                                  Did you mean to say the Midwest does NOT have sole claim to canned veggies baked in a pan with canned cream soup...

                                  Or did you intend it as you've written it. Not trying to nitpick. Just trying to understand your point.


                                  1. re: The Big Crunch

                                    Here's a link to a wild rice soup recipe - a very popular one from the local upscale grocery store that calls for ham and carrots.

                                    And the ingredients list from an alternative version that uses chicken broth but no ham or carrots, with lots more onion and some mushrooms.
                                    Radisson South Hotel Wild Rice Soup - 12 servings
                                    2 cups wild rice, cooked (1/2 cup uncooked
                                    )1 large onion
                                    2 large fresh mushrooms, diced, or 1 small can mushrooms, drained
                                    1/2 C. (1 stick) butter
                                    1 cup flour
                                    8 cups hot chicken broth
                                    salt and pepper to taste
                                    1 cup light cream or half-and-half
                                    1 - 2 tablespoons dry sherry or dry white wine (optional)

                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                      I think Wild Rice Soup might be the one thing that is genuinely a Minnesota dish. So, from now on, whenever somebody asks what dish Minnesota is known for, it's got to be Wild Rice Soup.

                                      I don't really like Minnesota being identified with the 'Jucy Lucy', since that's a Twin Cities thing (and my mom was stuffing burgers with cheese back in the 60s and my dad cooked them on a charcoal grill).

                                      Fried Walleye really is not exclusive to Minnesota.

                                      Hotdish is a Minnesota thing, but it's not a single dish, it just is.

                                      1. re: John E.

                                        I agree, it seems that wild rice soup really is unique to MN, and for good reason.

                                        I didn't really understand folks calling walleye as MN specific, because it's big in Canada, and because it's basically a bland white fish fried. Lots of fish are fried elsewhere. Nothing special about that.

                                        Ditto with the stuffed burger. The name might be specific, and the variations certainly are, but the concept isn't.

                                        I still don't know what a hotdish is and is not.

                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                          I tried my best to explain 'hotdish' on another thread.


                                          At some point it was decided that hotdish was not to be praised nor to be disparaged, it just is.

                                        2. re: John E.

                                          That's what we boiled down to on the MSP board a couple of years ago, too, after a long period of frequent debating. Wild rice soup is a uniquely MN dish. Of course, that was a Minnesota discussion, not a Midwest discussion. I often send visitors to MN History Center Cafe (which is where I had my first wild rice soup) or even MInnesota Grille (at Byerly's grocery store--they of the recipe Midwesterner linked to) to try it. Nevertheless, for Minnesota, I like to recommend hand-harvested, hand-parched truly wild rice in general so I can also fold in Hell's Kitchen's wild rice porridge, a breakfast dish that is in a way reminds me of cornmeal mush, which the Scandinavians brought here.


                                          Or Fitger's amazing Wild Rice Burger or even wild rice pancakes or wild rice brats.

                                          I would also add the hot dago sandwich as a uniquely MN (or St. Paul anyway) dish, though it's the province of restaurants, not home cooks.

                                          Same with the Jucy Lucy, which I think is fine to associate with the Twin Cities, the same way Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich or Montreal Smoked Meat are associated with their respective namesake cities. Until very recently when everyone started stuffing their burgers (after Boulud put short ribs in his and everyone went all burgers all the time due to the economy, then realized after they dumbed down their menus, they needed to gussy them up), the Twin Cities were really the only place where you could frequently encounter a cheese stuffed burger on a bar menu. I also think our tavern culture is somewhat unique and interesting, which is why I don't mind when a discussion of the JL highlights that.

                                          Walleye as I explained elsewhere in this thread is very closely associated with our lake and fishing culture which is why, I think, it comes up so often in these kinds of discussions. It's not unique to MN, but it does represent an important part of our culture.


                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                              Yep. Italian sausage sandwich with red sauce, and cheese, sometimes but not always open-faced. Despite the sometimes-controversial name (google it if you want to know more), on the menu for years at Yarusso's, Dari-ette (I think they now call theirs the Italiano), De Gidio's, Brianno's, Dusty's...


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                My ? is because that term is generally considered a slur. At least around here. Sounds really good though.

                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                  They are really good. I especially love them in winter when you just want something warm and saucy and cheesy, but they are also super good --albeit messy especially with a toddler I realized this summer-- at the Dari-ette (car hop service, summer only) with a side of spaghetti. One restaurant even serves a mini sandwich called the "medallion dago" to commemorate the year the Pioneer Press annual winter carnival treasure hunt medallion was hidden in the park across the street from the restaurant.

                                                  I guess that must be a seasonal item, because I don't see it on their menu right now: http://www.yarussos.com/menu.htm



                                                  If you google it as I suggested you'll find some discussion of the controversy around the name, notably an essay by a local columnist Joe Soucheray with remarks from a high-powered attorney (Earl Gray) representing DeGidio's restaurant of St. Paul, which has been in the family for many years. DeGidio's fought very hard to continue to call the menu item "hot dago," as they always had.

                                                  Some restaurants (including the Dari-ette) now call it the Italiano or something like that, but lots still call it a hot dago.

                                                  I call it by whatever name the particular restaurant I'm dining it calls it on their menu. But if the DeGidios and Yarussos and Briannos want to call it a dago, by all means, I'm not going to tell them they can't. But, that's just a little slice of Minnesota for you.


                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    Earl Grey? Is his law partner Cam O'Mile?

                                                    I'll google. Sounds interesting. I doubt if it would fly out here.

                                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                                      It's a really good sandwich, which has a long and proud tradition in St. Paul. I'm sure it will come up for debate again in another 20 years or so. We'll have to see what happens.

                                                      ETA: we have a pretty "live and let live" culture here.


                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                        Some call it "live and let live", others call it derogatory. If it was a tamale concoction or a hot pastrami sandwich called a "hot dago", then it clearly doesn't reference a derogatory term for Italians. But calling an Italian sausage sandwich with tomato sauce with a derogatory name for Italians, is, well, pretty obvious. If someone called wild rice soup "Redskin soup", well, I'd expect some backlash.

                                                        A hot dago sandwich is good, I've had a few. I'm not sure what the difference is between that, and your sausage sandwich found in other parts of the country, with the exception that it's a sausage patty instead of cased. Am I missing something?

                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                          I think the reason the sandwich is still around with that name is because the Italian restaurant owners wish to keep it that way.

                                                          I don't think Wild Rice Soup is particularly Native American. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Byerly's came up with it.

                                                          I have not had a lot of Hot Dagos, but I understand they are usually made with either meatballs or Italian sausage still in the casing, buy sliced.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            Seldom (perhaps never) still in the casing, in my experience--usually a patty or meatball. With cheese (provolone or mozz) and marinara sauce. Hot peppers on the side.

                                                            And you can talk to a number Italian Americans (most of them restaurateurs) around St. Paul who will swear the hot dago was invented in St. Paul (by them) and that it's found nowhere else in the U.S.


                                                          2. re: foreverhungry

                                                            Like a Big Spick Tamale?

                                                            Or Mick's curried potatoes ?

                                                            But I imagine this is more like a particular group embracing a slur for empowerment (eg, queer) purposes or because they embrace it in a cultural way (n-word).

                                                            It's obviously a different slant when served in the cultural setting which is being "slurred "

                                                            Like the "big dyke" breakfast at a diner run by lesbians. Perfectly fine.

                                                            Again, that said, it sounds delicious and I will search it out on my next visit to the twin cities.

                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                              I agree that there's a different slant when served in the cultural setting getting "slurred", but words have meaning and power. To some, even when used in the own cultural setting, the word can still be offensive to some. The "N" word is a prime example - used by some, and despised by others, in the "same" culture. There's no easy answer.

                                                              I'm still not sure what the difference is between a Hot Dago and a standard Italian Sausage sandwich? Any help?

                                                            2. re: foreverhungry

                                                              I'm not even going to attempt to defend the name of the sandwich, which is why I've suggested you Google on the history. This has been well argued by some of the state's highest-powered attorneys at least a couple of times, for sure in the early 90's and again about 7-8 years ago. There are at least a couple of write-ups about it. I don't have anything to add to that argument, even if I wanted to.

                                                              But, please understand that this sandwich has had this name for generations. It was created and named by the Italian-American restaurateurs who served an almost exclusively Italian-American clientele in what was at the time primarily an Italian neighborhood. Those restaurants are now operated by the children and grandchildren of the original owners. And some continue to use the name (Although, there are some who don't--and I'm not sure if they changed it or if they never used it.)

                                                              My personal policy is that I call the sandwich by the name it goes by on the menu of whichever restaurant I happen to be dining at.


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Yup, I understand, I've read about it for the decade that I've lived in MN, both in STP and MPLS proper. I understand the sandwich had its name for decades, by the culture and for the culture. And times change. Given the current debate over the Washington Redskins name, naming a sandwich with all Italian-American ingredients after an Italian-American slur seems like a no-brainer. Locals might defend it, but it doesn't make it right.

                                                                I wonder, if that sandwich was originally named todayat a MPLS eatery, would the name be different today? There are different schools of thought between STP and MPLS, so I'm just wondering if it was the other side of the river, would the derogatory name be different today?

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    Fascinating! Thanks TDQ, next time I'm in that area I'll check it out. Never heard of Dusty's. It looks like I am being overly touchy about the name!

                                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                          I ain't eatin' no Hot Dago (or Italiano) in my car. But I would love to have their red sauce recipe, maybe it's just the addition of the red pepper flakes that I like so much.

                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                            They sell the red sauce by the bucket full, to go, of course. I doubt they are going to give you their recipe, though. Wouldn't you love to have it, though.

                                                            You must go to the Dari-ette and have dinner in your car, then head over to the Vali-Hi for a drive-in movie. Date night, no toddler.


                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              The sauce is so secret she wouldn't even tell Guy Fieri what's in it. http://www.foodnetwork.com/local/mn-s... Dari-ette was featured in the pilot episode of DDD. It's the "D" in "DDD".



                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I remember watching that show when it produced as a 'one off' before FN picked it up as a half-hourseries.

                                                                We have purchased their sauce by the pint, but it ain't cheap (and not really convenient either. We only get there maybe a couple times a year.)

                                                                I occasionally make Hot Dagos at home, but I almost always use the Dairy-ette red sauce.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  We need that copy-cat recipe guy to tell us how to duplicate it!


                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    In that pilot, she seemed to add a lot of water, so I really don't know why I like it so much. Maybe I need to make it 100 quarts at time.

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      Fun little mini thread here, guys. If you want to make these at home, I think the absolute best hot Italian sausage in the Twin Cities is at Widmer's (or Kortes, which is Widmer's sibling). How's that for throwing down the Italian sausage gauntlet?

                                                                      1. re: soccermom13

                                                                        I had to Goggle that. I don't get down to that part of St. Paul too often. Usually only to go the The Nook. It just isn't the same after the fire.

                                                                        1. re: soccermom13

                                                                          My favorite hot Italian sausage so far is Buon Giorno.

                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                Not only the restaurants, but growing up the Hot Dago was routinely a featured item in my school district's hot lunch menu. Not sure if it still is (or if it is and they've renamed it), but we had them at least once or twice a month.

                                                                I guess James Norton's book Minnesota Lunch has a chapter on the Hot Dago, including exploring the etymology. The book keeps showing up in my recommended items on amazon, but I haven't taken the plunge to read it.

                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                              These are popular in Iowa [and have an equally offensive name: "Guinea Grinders"].

                                                    2. re: The Big Crunch

                                                      I grew up in the NC Piedmont and I can confirm that jello salads exists there too - though I knew them as congealed salads (an even less appetizing name than Jello salad, I'd say)

                                                    1. re: wekick

                                                      Heck yes! That's a great looking recipe. It's interesting that that kind of recipe originates elsewhere - there are many similar recipes in French cookbooks - and they get simplified and bastardized to a "jello salad" type recipe in the midwest.

                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      the green bean casseroles and jello salads were, when I was growing up in North Carolina (born 1955), present at every church and neighborhood and home potluck. And made their appearance at family Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. My grandmother had a special ambrosia salad.....coolwhip frozen with canned fruit cocktail. I'll bet that one is seen in midwest as well.

                                                    3. re: foreverhungry

                                                      P.S. I am also not a native Minnesotan. :)


                                                    4. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                      When I hear "Minnesota" I think "tater-tot hotdish," which to my Northern California born and bred imagination sounds both fascinating and horrifying.

                                                      I don't see jello molds on your list. I have a Minnesota friend who swears when she showed up at a potluck with the requested "green salad" she was told that meant green jello, not a tossed green salad.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Fascinating, horrifying...want to eat it.

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          I really only listed dishes I'd serve to guests as the OP is trying to plan an acrual meal . A jello salad isn't something I'd serve to anyone.


                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                            TDQ...Here is a jello 'salad' recipe I think you should try. While it is not something you would likely serve at a dinner party, it is something that is great for holiday meals. My mother made this at least once a year, usually at Easter. She always doubled the recipe, mostly because my oldest brother could eat half of it on his own.

                                                            Orange Sherbet Salad

                                                            2 packages orange Jello
                                                            1 cup boiling water (or use orange juice from drained oranges)
                                                            1 pint orange sherbet
                                                            1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained (save the juice)
                                                            1 cup heavy cream, whipped

                                                            Dissolve the gelatin in the water (juice). Add the sherbet and mix well. When partially set, add the oranges and fold in the whipped cream. Chill for several hours before serving.

                                                            My mother usually doubled the amount of mandarin oranges. I don't think this is necessarily the classic 'Jello' salad because it is not clear. I remember the crappy kind from my youngest days when a can of fruit cocktail was dumped into lime jello. This recipe is not like that kind.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Is that the same thing as Orange Fluff except with whipped cream instead of cool whip? I heard someone asking for an orange fluff recipe the other day...


                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                I have had some success with using real fruit juice and unflavored gelatin in former Jell-O recipes.

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  You know, I'm sure one can improve upon jello salad by "upgrading" (for want of a better word) the ingredients, but at my extended family gatherings, everyone longs for and expects Grandma's 7-Up Salad. Anything different would be enormously disappointing, I think. Nostalgia and family tradition are everything,

                                                                  Grandma did not make 7-Up Salad when I was young. It was something she added to her repertoire in later years, which is perhaps why some of my cousins have a fondness for it, while I do not. Maybe if she had, I'd have the same nostalgia for it.

                                                                  I have a couple of aunts who fight over the privilege of bringing 7 Up Salad to every family gathering. And for now, I think I'll just leave it to them to fight over it. :) When they are gone, I'll probably make it the same way they do to carry on the tradition.


                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                      As I read this I (in the Midwest) am preparing to make my (Eastern) son's favorite nostalgia salad for his upcoming visit: orange jello with grated carrots and crushed pineapple. My grandmother called it Perfection Salad but I have seen that name in cookbooks applied to different jello combinations.

                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                    I had never heard of 'Orange Fluff' until your post. I Goggled it and found two recipes. One called for cottage cheese, another for vanilla pudding. Both had Cool Whip, canned crushed pineapple, miniature marshmallows, and pecans. I think my mother's version sounds classier because it is simpler and includes the sherbet and no Cool Whip. It's basically mandarin oranges in really 'orangey', creamy Jello.

                                                                    Give it a try, at least once.

                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      Well, now orange fluff sounds almost like 7-Up Salad (which I just mentioned a second ago in this thread), except with orange jello instead of lime jello and with pecans instead of walnuts.

                                                                      Ah, the many joys, and variations, of jello salad.


                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                        I never heard of 7Up salad until I just Goggled it. I still have to say that the Orange Sherbet Salad is not similar to either 7Up Salad or Orange Fluff. No Cool Whip, no nuts, no cottage cheese (ugh, I put that in the same category as carrots in Jello), no pudding, no crushed pineapple.

                                                                        (I don't really mean to insult your aunts, by the way. Just don't tell them about this thread.)

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          Well, I couldn't tell them about this thread because I've confessed to not liking jello salad!

                                                                          While we're on the topic of things that aren't really salad, no one has mentioned snickers salad yet!


                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            If the Snickers salad was made with real whipped cream, I'd eat it. My mother made a version with just whipped cream and dice apples. The brother that loved the orange sherbet salad loved that too. Now that I think of it, it was probably the whipped cream that he loves. I think a can of Reddi-wip should end up in his stocking this Christmas. (That and an onion. My parents always put an onion in our Christmas stockings to remind us that we could always behave just a little better.)

                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                              Just saw snickers salad for the first time at a work pot luck last year. I was appalled that it existed. Plus people thought it was actually a salad and passed it by until the ingredients were explained.

                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                I've never seen one, but I do have a morbid sort of curiosity about it.

                                                                                1. re: melpy

                                                                                  "Well, it does have apples in it."

                                                                                  Hopefully no one really eats it and fools themselves that it's a a salad.

                                                                                  Honestly, I too have always passed it by. It might be amazing, but I just don't need that in my diet. Like sandy, I do have a morbid curiosity about it.


                                                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                    If it were just Snickers and whipped cream, it could be put into an ice cream maker (with a little more sugar) and it would become a DQ Blizzard.

                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                      Ha, 'cause it NEEDS more sugar.....;-)

                                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                                John E. - Try "Pink Lady" salad sometime - it will change your view of cottage cheese/jello (it did mine). A quick search for online recipes didn't turn up one like this (all seemed to have nuts), so perhaps the "Pink Lady" name I got was wrong.

                                                                                1 large 15.25-ounce or larger can crushed pineapple, with juice
                                                                                1 small 3-ounce box jello, any flavor (2 boxes if using sugar-free jello)

                                                                                Cook together until thickened. And let cool.
                                                                                Then add
                                                                                1 8-ounce container cool whip, thawed
                                                                                1 large 24-ounce container cottage cheese
                                                                                Optional - additional fruit

                                                                                Stir to mix well. Chill in refrigerator until set, 3 hours or more.

                                                                                Optional additional fruit combinations: well-drained mandarin oranges w/ orange jello; strawberries with strawberry jello; well-drained canned or fresh diced pears with lime jello.

                                                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                  Yet another variety of jello salad!

                                                                                  Like this?
                                                                                  Pink Lady Salad: http://www.cooks.com/recipe/lj7dx7d9/...

                                                                                  Also so far we've had mentioned Orange Fluff:

                                                                                  (Oh, interesting, in the recipe comments, someone mentions a similar recipe that calls for orange sherbet, maybe a derivation of the one John E recommends?)

                                                                                  Seven-up salad:

                                                                                  I think ambrosia has also been mentioned, but I think that's actually a very traditional Southern dish that has probably been adapted...


                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                    I'm not eating any Jello with crushed pineapple and cottage cheese....

                                                                                    I don't eat Cool Whip under any circumstances. (It is nutritionally the same as margarine.)

                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                      When you say it like that, it sounds like a cafeteria diet plate! Ha!

                                                                                      Or you could have a canned half peach on the side.


                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                  Google the song "Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise". Yes, it is a real song. Several performances are online ("And you really must try my Hot Dog Pie").

                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                            I just read your long post above. I think these two reflect a big disconnect between what most people eat on a regular basis, what people eat for special occasions, and what people who are interested in food eat (which is true for many places, not just the Midwest) and how the word "characterize" applies. It's a little snobby, IMHO, to dismiss out of hand a dish that is very popular in the region being discussed. Jello salads are popular all over the country among people who aren't food snobs. I've enjoyed them a time or two myself!

                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                              Sorry you think I'm a food snob, but I don't think jello salad or green bean casserole taste good and I'm not going to put them forth as recommendations when someone says they want to serve food to foreigners as something that is characteristic of the region. It doesn't have to be haute cuisine, I listed hot dish, bundt cake, and loosemeat sandwiches, for instance, but we're all allowed our personal taste. Even me.

                                                                              You registered surprise that they weren't on my list and I explained that I dislike them and therefore left them off my list of recommendations. Let those dishes be recommended by people who enjoy them as, as you point out, plenty of people do. And, yes, people went ahead and recommended them.

                                                                              When people come to San Francisco are you required to recommend clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl as representative of the region if it doesn't suit your personal taste? Many people enjoy it.


                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                I am on the bandwagon with you here in the sense that the rest of the world seems to think that Americans are backwards, stupid, and tacky; I'd like to see traditional food DONE WELL for visitors.

                                                                                It's interesting that the first question a British visitor asked my husband was, "Do you have a gun?". Ha. We are all cowboys wandering the wild west, I guess.

                                                                                Green Bean Casserole was always a mystery to me (as in why anyone would eat it), until I made it from scratch. Oh, wow, was it ever good!

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  I don't particularly like Green Bean Casserole because it's only served at Thanksgiving and by the time I get to it, it is usually no longer hot.

                                                                                  I find the gun question interesting. If I were asked that question from a British visitor the answer would have been several. The same would be said for cayjohan's family. She has posted about the large quantities of venison her family has in the freezer because members of her family are avid deer hunters. I have recently started to fill our freezer with food that will be consumed in our deer camp. (Deer opener is November 09.)

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    Green bean casserole has never been part of my family tradition either. I've only had it at potlucks, usually cold, congealed and --hey, this is just my opinion-- nasty. Frozen and/or canned and/or out of season green beans in condensed Campbell's soup, cold, with soggy French's onions on top. I can't understand why people aren't surprised when I say I don't enjoy this. For those who were raised on it and have nostalgia for it, great. Or, I guess, those of you've who have had it hot out of the oven in a home dining situation,great. But I don't understand why people bring this lukewarm to cold to potlucks and I'm expected to rave over it.


                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                      Green bean casserole and jello salad are interesting (to me anyway) because there can be very different representations of both. With green bean casserole, I agree with TDQ that the "typical" version that involves frozen or canned green beans and Campbell's soup and French's onions (those scare me a little) is not something I enjoy or find appetizing. But a made from scratch green bean casserole can be pretty darned good.

                                                                                      Ditto with jello salad - the variety usually found at potlucks isn't my thing, but those made with homemade flavored gelatin and fresh fruit can be fabulous, such as some of the ones found here:

                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                        I'll bet green bean casserole from scratch is good (sandylc says it is and I have no reason to doubt her!), but one reason GBC isn't a Thanksgiving tradition at my house is because green beans aren't in season at Thanksgiving! And I don't see why I would discard a dish from my family tradition that calls for an in-season vegetable to make room on my table one that does not, at least not in November when there are still squash and sweet potatoes and other root vegetables and winter squash to use up. Now, but the time February limps along...maybe I might be willing to try a GBC--all of the vegetables I'm cooking with at that point are frozen, canned or imported as all of the cellared vegetables are gone, soft, or growing eyes.

                                                                                        sandylc, do you have a recipe to share (or was the delicious GBC you had prepared by someone else)? No hurry, I won't need it until February. HA!

                                                                                        Honestly, I'm not sure the jello salad made with homemade flavored gelatin and fresh fruit is really "traditional." What's traditional is the kind of jello salad JohnE mentioned, or the orange fluff or the 7-Up Salad I mentioned. That's the "real" jello salad people serve at potlucks and family gatherings in the Midwest. I don't really think it would be accurate to pass off one of the "upgraded" jello salads and claim it's what people here really eat. It isn't, though perhaps it should be.


                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                          I'm not home right now, but I'll try to get my aging brain ;-( to remember to get the GBC recipe for you!

                                                                                          You raise an interesting point regarding the updating/changing/upgrading of traditional recipes. I've thought about this quite a lot, actually. No group of people, and therefore their foods, stays the same. It seems that every generation should rightfully put their stamp on the family dishes.

                                                                                          I am reminded of the story from a couple of years ago where some people from Sweden came to Minnesota and visited the Swedish Institute (I hope I am getting the details of this story right - please just regard the spirit of it, OK?). They were puzzled by the foods offered to them as Swedish and said that they guessed their grandparents must have eaten those things...

                                                                                          Food isn't static, it is always evolving! I guess the traditional foods of the current generation probably include....chicken nuggets?

                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                            I completely understand your point. I think foods should be allowed to evolve. Maybe jello salad should and will. But right now, I'll bet only a small number of Midwesterners have had "upgraded" jello salads and, therefore, it would be disingenuous to pass an upgrade off as something most people really eat.

                                                                                            But, yeah, it would be great if jello salad evolved. My guess is this is the direction I will probably go in my own household (gelatin that I sweeten myself). I just can't tolerate that much sugar in my desserts and my guess is my child will develop a tolerance (through constant exposure) for less-sweet desserts, too.

                                                                                            But, your story reminds me of when I lived on the West coast and we hosted some visitors from mainland China. We took them to Chinatown. They were very quiet the whole time. We were worried we'd somehow offended them, and asked them about it the next morning. What they said was that our Chinatown reminded them of the way their parents and grandparents described their villages growing up. It's as if people immigrated here and then everything was frozen in time.

                                                                                            A German (from Germany) friend of mine has said something similar about the German culture in Minnesota.


                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                              Oh, my, I wonder about "American"-themed areas/foods/customs in other countries.....!

                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                You know, I am going to add one thing in defense of jello salad (even though I have said that I don't like it) and that is that I do believe it is what Midwesterners have done to adapt to the fact that there has historically been no fresh fruit available here in winter. OKay, maybe bananas.

                                                                                                My husband grew up in a tiny little town on the prairie. They couldn't eat imported exotic fresh fruits from Whole Foods even if they wanted to. They shopped at Piggly Wiggly or IGA or whatever small-time grocery. And I'm not even sure people in small Midwestern towns today even really have that much variety of fresh fruit in the dead of winter.

                                                                                                So, what people did/do was make jello desserts with fruit cocktail and mandarin oranges and canned pineapple and marashcino cherries (and what they canned themselves, of course) in the hopes of feeding their children a fruit-based dessert that was slightly healthier than, say, chocolate silk pie.

                                                                                                Also along these lines, sour cream raisin pie or vinegar pie. Another dessert I haven't developed an appreciation for, though to be fair to me, I hate raisins, period. It's one of two foods I simply cannot abide. :(

                                                                                                ETA: sorry I had to hit post before I was done because my toddler was crying.

                                                                                                So, I shall right now stop complaining about eating jello salad in winter, but I will go on record for saying there is just no excuse for jello salads in the height of summer!


                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                  "Salad" is the wrong term when jello is involved. I think all of these are actually "dessert", including the one with cottage cheese I mentioned above and any with fruit stirred in.

                                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                    Agreed. I think I finally realized that when confronted with snickers salad.


                                                                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                      What is their place in the meal? I can understand calling a jello mold a salad if it contains vegetables and/or mayo/miracle whip or other salad dressing. That could have a spot on, or next to, the dinner plate. But I would consider the jello/fruit/real-or-ersatz-whipped-cream type as a distinctly dessert course. I really like the orange jello/carrot/pineapple mold but even though it's got a vegetable, to me it's dessert.

                                                                                                      BTW, I like the green bean casserole, and would make it for myself if it weren't so high in sodium. I've been thinking of altering the recipe to add cooked white beans to absorb some of the extra salt, and stretch the yield.

                                                                                                    2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                      Ask your husband about the Red Owl grocery store on the "Big Corner". There were three grocery stores, one downtown (that eventually moved out by the mall) and a SuperValu store and the Red Owl store. They had the normal fruits like apples, pears, citrus, bananas and other fruits in season. I remember getting coconuts when I was a kid, I had a sometimes indulgent mother. (It wasn't candy at least.)

                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                        Are you talking about in Worthington? He didn't grow up there, but certainly would have passed through there on occasion.


                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                          Yep. Swanson's/Hy-Vee, Ralph's, and Gordy's.

                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                            He says he remembers the one in Worthington, though his family wouldn't have shopped there. His town had an IGA, a SuperValue, a Piggly Wiggly and (here's one I'd never heard of until now) a Jack and Jill.

                                                                                                            Do you know what happened to Red Owl?


                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              The Red Owl, a grocery food distributor, was bought by SuperValu in about 1986 and all but one store in Green Bay have different names/branding.

                                                                                                              This is a bit insider stuff, but in what small town did your husband grow up? I always thought the nearest Piggly Wiggly was in Sioux Falls.

                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                I grew up in Sioux Falls in the 60's and 70's. I have no recollection of Piggly Wiggly there in that time period. Sunshine stores had the monopoly back then and I do remember a couple of Red Owl stores.

                                                                                                                My first exposure to Piggly Wiggly was during my college days in Vermillion, SD. We simply called it, The Pig. :)

                                                                                                                1. re: justalex

                                                                                                                  I seem to remember a Piggly Wiggly somewhere around Minnesota and 41st. I have distinct memories of a Piggly Wiggly near there, near an Ace Hardware store.

                                                                                                                  That same intersection is where I first remember eating McDonald's chicken nuggets, sometime in the late 70s.

                                                                                                                  I also have memories of the early 70s when the Western Mall first opened and then a few years later when the Empire Mall opened.

                                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                                          You are not talking about the Red Owl (as in your profile ) on lyndale in Mpls?

                                                                                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                            No, TDQ's husband and I grew up in the same town in SW Minnesota. (Edit, or at least I thought we did.) I'm quite sure I was never in the Red Owl on Lyndale. My childhood visits rarely got me out of NE Minneapolis.

                                                                                                            If you were in Minneapolis in the 60s, you might remember Zayre Shopper's City stores. My father was born in the parking lot of the one located in Columbia Heights (about 30 years earlier, I should add.)

                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                              Not the same town, but in the same corner of the state. John, send an email to the address in my profile.

                                                                                                              My husband says Red Owl had the best store branded potato chips.


                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                TDQ, it's not that important. I guess the cook booklet you mentioned in the Eat This Book thread got me to make the assumption. I grew up within a few blocks of that school.

                                                                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                It might have been a Piggy Wiggly come to think of it ....

                                                                                                                I remember Zayre Shoppers City as well as the very first Target store on the face of the eath and the magificant Southdale with the bird cage and the fish pond/stream.

                                                                                                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                  I drove by that first Target store on Saturday. Actually, it might require an * because it was demolished about 10 years ago and a SuperTarget replaced it.

                                                                                                                  I have not been to South Dale in at least 15 years. The Mall of America 8 miles away has reduced traffic at the first mall ever. I haven't been to MOA for years either.

                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                    MOA is a great winter exercise venue. Walk all three levels and you get a pretty good bit of miles put on your feet.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                      It's also getting slightly more chowhoundish, restaurant-choice-wise.


                                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                                              P.S. I think I overstated my case "in defense" of jello salad above when I said there were "no" fresh fruits in winter aside from bananas, just not a great variety. It would have been bananas, apples and oranges year-round and, as you say, the other normal fruits in season.


                                                                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                        I agree that "upgraded" green bean casserole and jello "salad" aren't traditional at all. While I don't know the history of either dish, I'd guess that what we call "traditional" green bean casserole and jello salad at one point used to be made with high quality ingredients and from scratch. Convenience and availability of short cuts led to the "downgraded" versions we are now accustomed to.

                                                                                                        From that perspective, it would be interesting to have a party with the "upgraded" versions of these now "downgraded" foods, something similar to what the Minneapolis restaurant Haute Dish does. This again blurs the definition of what it means for a dish to "characterize" a particular area.

                                                                                                        This is an interesting thread, for several reasons. One, I've learned about a lot of new dishes I've never heard of before, as well as a little about food history. It's also interesting to read how different people interpret the OP's question.

                                                                                                        1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                          You are probably right on GBC (though I still don't know why anyone would favorite a green bean dish over a squash or root vegetable dish at Thanksgiving but maybe it wasn't always a Thanksgiving thing), but (sorry, I'm not trying to be disagreeable...) I'll bet every jello salad recipe we are familiar with was planted by Jello itself in women's magazines. That's how the food companies ensured women would buy their products, back in the day.


                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                            Yes, and also the recipes on food packages and with cookware such as Corningware casserole dishes.

                                                                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                              Yes, I'd agree that Jello itself planted the recipes. But the fact remains that similar desserts - flavored gelatin with fresh fruit - have been around for longer than Jello has, and the "upgraded" version (which is really the traditional version, if we're using the term traditional to mean how it used to be) is still made. Yes, clearly the Jello and whip cream from a tub version is what is popular now, but it's not the original formulation of the dessert.

                                                                                                              I also don't know why people favor green bean casserole over squash or root vegetables, but I also don't know why people buy cranberry "jelly" from a can.

                                                                                                            2. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                              Green bean casserole was invented in 1955 by a Campbell's soup employee to use pantry staples that most families already had.

                                                                                                              I had never tried it until a few years ago when DH was jonesing for it for Thanksgiving. I told him he'd have to make it himself, which he gladly did, and he ended up having to eat it all himself, too. Which he gladly did.

                                                                                                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                So canned green beans is on purpose. :(


                                                                                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  I just remembered a post from some time ago on a thread I cannot recall. Somebody asked what to do with two cans green beans. I said to feed them to the dog.

                                                                                                                2. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                  Yes, the version we are talking about was "invented" by Campbell's. But the concept of green beans (or any other green vegetable) in a creamy sauce is not a new concept and was not invented by Campbell's.

                                                                                                                  This is very similar to the Jello "salad" - an old concept that can look and taste great, downgraded to use easy to access ingredients, little (or no) cooking technique, and boost sales of some product.

                                                                                                              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                "... but one reason GBC isn't a Thanksgiving tradition at my house is because green beans aren't in season at Thanksgiving! And I don't see why I would discard a dish from my family tradition that calls for an in-season vegetable to make room on my table one that does not..."

                                                                                                                Having lived for a while in Minnesota, I've been reading this thread with interest. This morning, before I began reading this thread, I read an article in the WASHINGTON POST food section about pumpkin recipes. Recipe #18, Roasted Pumpkin with Wild Rice Pilaf, really got my attention for Thanksgiving. In fact, I ordered some wild rice immediately after reading the article. Here's the link to that specific recipe, but there are 19 others that may have some appeal.


                                                                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                                                                            John E., I just saw this. Indeed, if a foreign visitor had come to my family's situation, they might well have concluded it was the Wild West, as so much of our family's victuals did come from the point of a gun.

                                                                                                            I think in our particular corner of the Upper Midwest, it's not so uncommon, but may be out of the ordinary to others. In fact I think it might play to the OP's query on Midwestern food: game seems to be important.

                                                                                                            With the passing of my dad, my venison supply is drying up, sadly.

                                                                                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                              Do you have any brothers or cousins that still hunt deer?

                                                                                                              I have an older brother who hogs most of our venison. Of course, his boys each shot deer last year. We butcher our deer at our cabin soon after they are harvested. He makes sausage, but sometimes I would rather have plain venison. I have been able to keep the loins out of the sausage grinder.

                                                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                Similar to different ways posters have interpreted "characterize the midwest", there are different ways to interpret "do you own a gun". I have a lot of family in France, and they ask me about handgun violence in the US, because it's very rare in France. However, they own several rifle/shotgun/mixed combinations, for hunting duck, pheasant, rabbit, deer, and boar.

                                                                                                                It's not our the owning of firearms for hunting that intrigues other cultures, but our owning of handguns (multiple handguns, in some cases) that does; in the same way that it's not the concept of a green bean casserole or "jello salad" that fascinates, but rather the way that its made in many cases.

                                                                                                                1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                  Even ownership of long guns is quite low in most of Europe.

                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                    Europeans make crappy cowboys. ;-)

                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                      And until the internet and the WWW came along, they thought the U.S. was like the cowboy movies...

                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                      Gun ownership in the US is 100 per 100. people. Gun ownership in Switzerland is 46 per 100. Gun ownership in France is 31 per 100. Difference between US on the one hand and France and Switzerland on the other is that US firearm ownership is high in handguns, and in France and Switzerland, handgun ownership (legal, anyway) is low to nil. Long gun ownership would be similar in all three countries.

                                                                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                Oh my, this brings back memories. We hosted a student from Mexico (10 yr old girl) years back. Her parents were terrified that we might take her somewhere at night because of "gun violence in the US."
                                                                                                                We live by three colleges in a leafy, liberal area of St. Paul. Gun violence is foreign to us. But that is what this girl's parents were worried about.......
                                                                                                                So how does this relate to food? I think expectations of those not from this area about what Midwesterners eat can be waaaay off....

                                                                                                                1. re: soccermom13

                                                                                                                  And our media shows us pictures of disrespectable sorts wandering around Mexico with automatic weapons.

                                                                                                                  I don't think the media does anyone any favors regarding how countries view one another.

                                                                                                                  Ever notice that if certain areas of the world are in the news, the medias likes to use the word "villages" in news stories, but when they show videos of these "villages", there are high rise buildings!

                                                                                                                  OT. Sorry.

                                                                                                                  1. re: soccermom13

                                                                                                                    You and TDQ must live quite close to one another. I have never read about much gun violence in your area.

                                                                                                                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                  Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is not characteristic of the region -- the "many people who enjoy it" are tourists at Fisherman's wharf who think they're eating local food! Clam chowder is not a local food at all, since clams are not local. Sourdough bread bowls could be considered local, but locals would be more likely to put chile or dip in them.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                    Yes I know. And yet, it's a dish sold, consumed and enjoyed by many people in San Francisco. For generations and decades. From that perspective, it is certainly "San Franciscan." My point is, it is a question that can be interpreted many ways. I happen to like clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, but only when on Fisherman's Wharf, because to me, like it or not, clam chowder is now part of the fabric of Fishermans Wharf.

                                                                                                                    By the same token, I don't think "jello salad" with cool whip or reddiwhip and commercially canned in syrup fruit has always been part of the fabric of Midwestern life. It wasn't part of our family tradition (or anyone's family tradition that I knew of) when I lived in the Midwest in my early years. Later, when I returned to the Midwest, I found that jello salad had been folded in to at least some family celebrations, driven primarily, I think, by my young cousins who liked the sweetness and the bright colors of it. And then, it was later reinforced by the "nostalgia" element of it.

                                                                                                                    I personally have found every incarnation of jello salad I've ever tried to be too sweet. It's not for me, though I continue to take a polite spoonful at every family meal at which it appears out of politeness, but also, out of what if one of these days my tastes have changed and I actually like it?

                                                                                                                    But there's no reason I have to like it, accept it as a legitimate part of my Midwestern food heritage, or recommend it. And even though clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is readily, steadfastly available in San Francisco, neither do you have to like it, accept it as legitimately San Franciscan, or recommend it.


                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      The question has nothing to do with whether people enjoy it, it has to do with whether it's "characteristic"! Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl is primarily consumed in one small part of San Francisco, mainly by tourists. While it may characterize the tourist experience in San Francisco it does not characterize what people who live in San Francisco, let alone the whole region, actually eat.

                                                                                                                  2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                    This raises a question as to how we define "characteristic". Maybe that definition is a subjective one but I don't think that a sophisticated dish developed last week in an expensive restaurant by a trained chef is as "characteristic" as a dish served for generations at family reunions and church suppers or even just prepared routinely in family kitchens. This discussion reminds me of the inevitable posts at holiday times by cooks who have grown more worldly than their family members who, it is now felt, must be improved by being denied their green bean casserole and jello salad and marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. Isn't "traditional" what Grandma traditionally cooked? Then, when we go back to Grandma's, is it even good manners to try and reform Grandma?

                                                                                                              3. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                I was recently gifted with the Joys of Jello Gelatin cookbook circa 1981 and it was both one of the most wonderful and horrifying things I have ever read. It started out fantastic (and really highlighting a deep love of Cool Whip in the 70's and 80's - for instance after the basic recipe was the "fancy version", e.g. plop some Cool Whip on top). Then there were some ridiculously awesome things I wouldn't have thought of (sangria jello...wine you can chew!). Then it dipped into the horrifying cuisine of the 70's and 80's where people apparently put lemon jello in everything and used molds to shape their jello salad in the shape of the animal from whence it came (hello salmon mousse w/ lemon jello in a fish-shaped mold). I think not being Lutheran saved me from some of these horrors in my childhood (we only did fruit in Jello). But my friends looking through the book recalled their church potlucks or dinner parties with lemon or lime jello salads filled with various delights such as french bean basket (lemon jello, chicken bouillon, frozen green beans and pimentos), molded chef salad, tomato aspic, and shimmering shrimp mold. The book even has a page of what salads pair with certain foods (with steak or roast beef, trying pairing it with the spinach-cottage cheese salad, french bean basket, or tomato aspic).

                                                                                                                Clearly, Midwestern cuisine has moved away from this, but this little book is fascinating and for me is so representative of the Midwestern, particularly Lutheran or Scandinavian regions in the upper Midwest, culture in that era. I'm really tempted to cook my way through this book just for kicks (clearly someone at some point in history thought it was tasty and I don't think any died from it). I may wuss out on the jellied ham loaf or salad creamy fish salad though.

                                                                                                                1. re: amishangst

                                                                                                                  Amish angst, the chewable sangria has morphed into Jello shots... Doesn't every good hostess serve them?


                                                                                                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                    Oh, how I wish we were that inventive and fancy in my jello shot days. Sadly, we pretty much were limited to vodka with one or two flavors and then drinking them when we couldn't wait for them to solidify. After discovering that black cherry jello + vodka = cough syrup, I think we gave up. And I don't think it ever occurred to us to use wine.

                                                                                                                    I have a shelf full of gelatin, a full liquor cabinet, and I don't work in the morning. I'm feeling awfully inspired thanks to your link.

                                                                                                                  2. re: amishangst

                                                                                                                    Oddly, the jellied ham loaf is probably style after a lovely French terrine.

                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                      Perhaps, but I have an aversion to finely minced or pureed lunch meat or fish to begin with and I don't think the two packages of lemon jello and the cup each of catsup and mayonnaise is going to suddenly win me over on the concept.

                                                                                                                    2. re: amishangst

                                                                                                                      My Campbell's soup cookbook is truly horrifying.

                                                                                                                      But my Amana Radar Range (Iowa!!) takes the cake .

                                                                                                                      1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                        My mother-in-law calls all microwaves "Radar Range(s)" ,,,

                                                                                                                        1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                          'Radar Range' was what Amana called their microwaves back in the day.

                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                            Most assuredly [in having grown up in Iowa]. My MIL still has her vintage "Radar Range" in her canning kitchen of her 1960's rancher.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                              I remember when we got our first microwave, and it was an Amana Radar Range. I always thought the door opening down was wierd. My mother once cooked a spaghetti squash in it and forgot to poke holes in it. The pressure built up and the door to the microwave blew open. There was squash everywhere in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                Wow, I bet she was steamed! Sorry, I couldn't resist.

                                                                                                                                P.S. My mother waited until the 1980's to get a microwave and all I can remember about it was that it was large [and from Sears].

                                                                                                                      2. re: amishangst

                                                                                                                        I recently read in a food history book that gelatin salads became fashionable in the 1920s because in order to make them you had to have an electric refrigerator, still an expensive status thing in those times. Makes sense. So it's ironic that Jello started out as a food snobbery food and now has become anathema to food snobs. I hold out for Jello for two good reasons: 1) It is useful for using up fruit that is getting ratty and 2) A feverish sick child will often eat red jello when he won't eat or drink anything else and this gets liquid into him, at least. And if it pleases people to bring it to the family reunion, so what?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                          A hundred years ago hardwood floors were difficult to keep up with, which led to carpeting becoming a staple of middle and eventually lower class homes. Once it became cost-efficient to restore hardwood floors with cheaper equipment, they became a middle class fixture again. A lot of what makes "class" is what is easily available to people with money.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ennuisans

                                                                                                                            My limited understanding is just the opposite: That wall-to-wall carpeting was a luxury item until mechanization and the use of synthetics in the 1950's made it more affordable.

                                                                                                                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                              You're both right. New production methods caused each of the flooring products to become more durable and more affordable.
                                                                                                                              A hand loomed carpet and a specialty wood floor can still be very expensive. It's the assembly line that gave us more choices.

                                                                                                                    3. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                      Doubt that you can find rhubarb, but that would definitely be MW.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                        I saw a woman stealing my neighbor's rhubarb from across the alley this morning. I can't make any claims about how good it was but there must have been a late patch that the thief figured would just be killed by the frost anyway, so she helped herself to it!

                                                                                                                        I always heard that rhubarb grows best where the ground freezes, which is why if flourishes in the Midwest.


                                                                                                                          1. re: Boychucker

                                                                                                                            HAHA! No. But the war over urban harvesting of rhubarb can get quite intense.


                                                                                                                    4. I can't think of two dishes more quintessential Midwestern than green bean casserole and jello "salad". Sorry, I don't have recipes for either of these, but I'm sure google can help you out.

                                                                                                                      I'm not a native Minnesotan (or midwesterner, for that matter), and when I moved here a few years ago, I was surprised by how often I saw these two dishes at potlucks, gatherings, and family holidays.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                                                                                                        We have been making the cooks illustrated version of green bean casserole for a few years- waaaayyy better than the original:

                                                                                                                      2. Steaks, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob with a tossed salad, and apple crisp for dessert. Not specifically Midwestern, but classic all-American.

                                                                                                                        Or maybe burgers with bacon, coleslaw and mac & cheese with kielbasa. Baked sweet potatoeds?

                                                                                                                        Foreverhungry's green bean casserole and jello salad are good ideas. Maybe an American so-called goulash, with beef, tomatoes and pasta.

                                                                                                                        1. If you want to demonstrate how dishes from other cuisines evolve here in the states, you could make toasted ravioli - just beef (usually) or cheese ravioli that is breaded, fried, and served with marinara. It's almost impossible to find outside of the St. Louis area. I spent a large chunk of my childhood there and toasted ravioli is incredibly nostalgic for me.

                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Aravisea

                                                                                                                            it was a staple in the rotation in my college dining hall in iowa, and pretty common in restaurants throughout the state! we called it fried ravioli, though, not toasted.

                                                                                                                            1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                              Fried ravioli has more calories obviously :D

                                                                                                                            2. re: Aravisea

                                                                                                                              This has migrated and I have seen it often now on the East Coast.

                                                                                                                              1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                Oh? I also live on the East Coast (DC area) and have seen a version only once, on a Maggiano's specials menu.

                                                                                                                            3. Chicago dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, and deep dish pizza are about as Midwestern as you can get.
                                                                                                                              Pork tenderloin sandwiches from Indiana, Johnny Marzetti from Columbus Ohio. Cincinnati Chili from...well, you know.
                                                                                                                              Corn pudding. Polish sausage and sauerkraut. Fried lake perch with rye bread and cole slaw.

                                                                                                                              1. Tater Tot Casserole From the 60's -

                                                                                                                                2 lb ground beef
                                                                                                                                1 large package frozen mixed vegetables
                                                                                                                                1 envelope Liptons onion soup mix (or diced onions cooked w/ beef)
                                                                                                                                2 cans cream of mushroom or c.o. celery or c.o. chicken soup
                                                                                                                                1 can (or a little less) water
                                                                                                                                1 package frozen tater tot potatoes

                                                                                                                                Brown ground beef. Put into 2 ½ quart casserole. Sprinkle frozen veggies on top of ground beef, sprinkle onion soup mix on top of veggies. Mix soup and water. Pour over veggies & ground beef. Place tater tops on top.

                                                                                                                                Bake 1 hour, 350 degrees or until golden brown.

                                                                                                                                Top with sliced Velveeta and cook another 5 min., until melted.

                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                  I don't really have a real TTHD recipe. Perhaps I shall try this one.


                                                                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                    My mom made that in the 60's...and we are not anywhere near the Midwest. Wasn't that more a packaged food casserole dish? Or is that really a Midwest type dish?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: sedimental

                                                                                                                                      Hotdish/casserole variations are still found in abundance for family dinners or church potlucks here in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota. They're not something foreigners would typically find in a restaurant so if OP wants to make "not fancy" food, this is one idea.

                                                                                                                                      TDQ - I tried many hamburger hotdish recipes, seeking a flavor similar to the ones served by my grandmother - sometimes made with sliced fresh potatoes, sometimes with tater tots. Mom finally mentioned that Grandma always used cream of chicken soup (not mushroom or celery) in her's. Voila - the "secret" ingredient.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                        Those "secret ingredients" can be a conundrum!


                                                                                                                                    2. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                                                      I made 2 huge casserole dishes of this for a White Trash Thanksgiving party about 10 years ago and the dishes were wiped clean.

                                                                                                                                    3. Thick cut pork chops, baked with onions and apples.

                                                                                                                                      1. For Indiana food, I think of pork tenderloin -- the giant pounded, breaded and deep fried tenderloin sandwiches (as big as a dinner plate) that you can still get at some restaurants and the state fair. like this, more or less: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/fo...

                                                                                                                                        Pork chops, too, with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn on the cob.

                                                                                                                                        Lots of Germans where I grew up, so sausage and kraut with dumplings.

                                                                                                                                        We like our pork...


                                                                                                                                        Pot roast.

                                                                                                                                        Chicken and noodles. http://www.coesnoodles.com/

                                                                                                                                        Indiana's State Pie: Sugar Cream Pie. Also, apple pie, blueberry and black raspberry. http://www.food.com/recipe/amish-suga...

                                                                                                                                        Also gaining as an Indiana food: http://www.bellaquaculture.com/our-pr...

                                                                                                                                        Yes, we do casseroles, too.

                                                                                                                                        1. If you're from Indiana, the breaded tenderloin, of course. Fellow Indiana-an here. Casseroles tend to be pretty common in the Midwest. Just a thought.

                                                                                                                                            1. I can only help with food from Indiana, but I agree with the tenderloins and sugar cream pie. We are definitely known for both of those. I also think chicken and noodles are more common here than they seem to be in other parts of the country. I would probably add beef and noodles to that too. Corn is a big deal in the summer. Also, maybe cheese curds and fried vegetables like mushrooms, cauliflower, etc that seem to be so popular.

                                                                                                                                              One thing that I have noticed when traveling is that having breadsticks with cheese dip is an Indiana thing too. I have never had them served without spicy cheese dip anywhere in Indiana. That seems to be something we only do here because I've asked about it in many other states, and people usually have no idea what I'm talking about.

                                                                                                                                              I've also had trouble finding biscuits and gravy in other places. I think they're pretty common in the south, but I couldn't get them on the east coast. I was at a restaurant once where the server told us we could order them even though they weren't on the menu. My husband and I were excited until she brought out biscuits covered in both beef and turkey gravy. We appreciated the effort, but that wasn't what we were hoping for.

                                                                                                                                              I can't think of anything else right now, but I hope this helps.

                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                I forgot to add the pie recipe. This one is my favorite so far.

                                                                                                                                                Sugar cream pie
                                                                                                                                                2 c heavy cream
                                                                                                                                                1 c granulated sugar
                                                                                                                                                1/4 c all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                                                1 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                1-2 tbsp butter
                                                                                                                                                pinch of salt
                                                                                                                                                Grated nutmeg
                                                                                                                                                Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add cream and vanilla. Mix well.
                                                                                                                                                Pour into cold unbaked pie shell. Dot with butter. Do not stir. Grate nutmeg over filling. Bake 350 for about an 1 hour or until filling is set.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: elegraph

                                                                                                                                                    None at all. It probably sounds strange compared to other pie recipes, but it is perfect without them.

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                    Yup, that's it!

                                                                                                                                                    Delicious, but really SWEET!

                                                                                                                                                  3. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                    I agree with the cheese dip for breadsticks. It's so good -- surely it will spread across the nation!
                                                                                                                                                    My daughter asked for cheese dip at a pizza parlor in Florida, and the server said "Sorry, we don't have that -- you must be from Indiana." One MORE thing the child disliked about that family vacation -- no cheese for the breadsticks!!
                                                                                                                                                    Our local Papa Murphy's (take and bake pizza chain from CA) took a year or more to get corporate permission to offer the cheese dip -- I guess they had to add up the thousands of requests to make the point to the non-Hoosiers!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                      Considering how much we love cheese dip here, I'm surprised it took Papa Murphy's so long to get it, but not at all surprised that they had to.

                                                                                                                                                      Depending on where you live in Indiana, you may also relate to Pizza King being the standard against which all others are measured. Their breadsticks are served brushed with garlic-dill butter and spicy cheese dip. It's always disappointing to order them somewhere else and get a dry piece of dough with marinara on the side.

                                                                                                                                                      I had to laugh when I read about your trip to Florida because my mom could have written that almost word for word twenty years ago. We still talk about that trip, and although I drove her almost completely crazy then, we both laugh about it now.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                        I ate a lot of Pizza King growing up! Always pepperoni and sausage, and they were both ground up finely - with very spicy sauce. Don't think it's the same place anymore, the last I saw. I think they've been through a few incarnations in recent years.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                          I'm living in the home of Pizza King -- best breadsticks and definitely a high bar to surpass. That's how I make my breadsticks: brushed with garlic butter and water and layered. I am also a fan of the edge to edge ground pepperoni.

                                                                                                                                                          Sandy, I'm pretty sure that at least one local Pizza King ships frozen pies to expat Hoosiers.

                                                                                                                                                          needscoffee -- the child is now a charming adult, and I hope some day we can laugh about the vacation from hell -- haven't yet had occasion to talk about it....

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                      Central PA has biscuits and gravy. I like mine better because I use more sausage and spice.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: needcoffee

                                                                                                                                                        Ohio is big on biscuits and gravy as well!

                                                                                                                                                      2. The thing I miss from my time in Mpls. is beer cheese soup. Popcorn on top, of course. When I drive through Nebraska it's all about the Cheese Frenchees and Iowa is Maid Rites all the way.

                                                                                                                                                        Now that the weather is a little cooler at night I'm starting to think about that soup....

                                                                                                                                                        1. hot dish. with tater tots.
                                                                                                                                                          sweet corn; try a corn chowder!
                                                                                                                                                          iowa-style pork cutlets or loose meat sandwiches.
                                                                                                                                                          stew. chili.
                                                                                                                                                          pork chops and applesauce.
                                                                                                                                                          apple pie. stuffed, baked apples.
                                                                                                                                                          fried walleye.
                                                                                                                                                          cheese curds!

                                                                                                                                                          1. I think I have to vacation in the Midwest soon.....I need a short fix of this kinda food!

                                                                                                                                                            1. Native Minnesotan here. With stints in Fargo, Indianapolis, Cedar Rapids, Bloomington (IN) and Chicago. Havent lived there for a long time but visit regularly.

                                                                                                                                                              My votes are for:

                                                                                                                                                              Maidrites, of course. Nothing could be more Midwestern.

                                                                                                                                                              Pork. Roast or breaded cutlets.


                                                                                                                                                              1. Fried chicken. Until I moved to Wisconsin I didn't know that white people ate fried chicken like that.

                                                                                                                                                                1. What a great question!

                                                                                                                                                                  I grew up in Pittsburgh, then by Cleveland, and my Dad was a Brooklyn Boy, my mom, southern Ohio, and I am now in LA. Oh and I went to college in Wisconsin. So I've seen many different parts of the midwest!

                                                                                                                                                                  Classic midwest, I'd say is casseroles - tuna noodle, broccoli and cheese, etc. Then you get to sausages - brats cooked in beer, keilbasa and sauerkrut baked - yum. Biscuits with sausage and gravy, as other folks have posted - huge. And I will say, one of my oddest party tricks in LA is to make biscuits and bake them while I am talking to folks - for tea or for dinner. They can't believe it. Which for me, brings me to my next part of the midwest - baking.

                                                                                                                                                                  It's not for nothing that there is a book called "Butter flour sugar." Because that's, to me, that the midwest is. Simple pure cakes. Great fruit filled baked desserts. Noodles (spaetzel) cooked just as a side dish. It'a carbs and comfort.

                                                                                                                                                                  So share that : )

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Ugh. Don't do jello or green bean casserole.

                                                                                                                                                                    When my FIL passed, a neighbor in his IN neighborhood brought over the best chicken and dumplings (rolled dumplings, like thick noodles) I have ever eaten. And in southern IN I have eaten noodles that were pressed through a sieve so they were like large grains of rice. They were cooked separately, I think. So, maybe homemade dumplings/noodles. (I grew up eating drop dumplings, which might also be good.)

                                                                                                                                                                    Midwesterners do green salads well. And a rich chocolate cake or apple pie would finish off the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                    One of my fave "midwestern" meals is a pot of potatoes, sauerkraut with apple and caraway, and polish sausage cooked together on the stove.

                                                                                                                                                                    But why not serve your guests food you grew up eating? Or, wonderful seafood from your area?

                                                                                                                                                                    17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                                                                                                                                      My grandmother made that dish, chicken and fat, noodle-like dumplings. I can never get it right. I think partly because she cooked with an obscene amount of salt that I just am unable to bring myself to do. But those dumplings are the best thing I've ever eaten in my life.


                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                        My grandmother made those, and I got her to show me how to do them before she left us. Let me know if you want to learn how...they are very filling, but satisfying and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                        EDIT: And they have far less sodium than any commercial iteration.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                            There is an email address on my profile.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                              I'll drop you a note, probably tomorrow. Fewer distractions. I'm very excited!


                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen




                                                                                                                                                                                (I only make them about once a year!)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                          Don't know about your grandmother, but when my grandmother made chicken and noodles, (which I requested for my birthday dish as a child) both chicken and noodles started in the chicken house.

                                                                                                                                                                          I think it's the chicken fat and the farm eggs, myself, not the salt.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                            Definitely the chicken fat was part of it, but I'm not sure the eggs were the difference in the case of her noodles, though I agree using farm fresh eggs would be a great idea!


                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                            my grandmother made it, too, called chicken pastry. the "pastry" was like shorter lasagna noodles, made from scratch, yes, with eggs, swimming in chicken broth and heavy with yellow chicken fat. The chicken was overcooked but it was the fat in the sauce that made it so delicious to some. I could never get in to it but the rest of my family thought it was the best food ever.

                                                                                                                                                                            served with jello salad, green bean casserole, and pie for dessert, homemade biscuits, and a stack of wonder bread on the table along with brown and serve rolls (need three types of bread at all times). Canned green beans cooked in the pressure cooker with fatback.

                                                                                                                                                                            snack was wonder bread with molasses poured over.

                                                                                                                                                                            South and midwest have lots in common but at least in the south, the homemade biscuits were important!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                                                                                              Yeah, that looks like a mash-up of my Indiana upbringing and my mother's southern roots/family customs!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                                                                                                Your middle paragraph (and the sentence about wonder bread that follows) is entirely alien to me.


                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Madrid

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hmmm, trying to think of typical sides for Grandma's chicken and noodles. So, I'm thinking of Sunday dinner. Grandma had thick white dinner plates (milk glass?) with wide blue rims.

                                                                                                                                                                                  With the noodles, always mashed potatoes. Grandma's noodles were < 1/4 inch wide, and about 2" long; medium thickness.

                                                                                                                                                                                  In summer, salad with some kind of dressing (I think it was boiled, but I don't really know) or, instead, cucumbers and onions (vinegar dressing). Sliced tomatoes, spinach (with vinegar), and maybe corn on the cob. All this from the garden.

                                                                                                                                                                                  In the winter, (home) canned green beans, (home) frozen corn, and (home) frozen applesauce. I do not remember if we ever had salad in the winter. We always had dill pickles, though, and corn relish.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Pie for dessert, of course (Crisco crust), although there was a special few weeks where it was strawberry shortcake, instead.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I cannot remember bread in particular, so it must have been Wonder-bread. However, no molasses. I've heard of this, and it does not sound good.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Grandma made great pan-fried chicken, too. And wonderful pot roast (with mushroom soup added to the gravy). I don't think she ever made a jello salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                  My mom cooked a lot like this, too, and I do my best, but cannot come near to measuring up without the chicken house and the garden!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ha, there's that Indiana mashed potatoes with chicken and noodles thing. So weird! I always had to talk the cafeteria ladies into serving them to me separately.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                      And I married a Ukrainian who introduced me to potato pierogi...

                                                                                                                                                                                      Growing up, I knew a German woman who put potatoes in her chili. Although maybe then you couldn't call it chili.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                        Pierogi (pyrohy) is food of the god's.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Martha Stewart's minions must have done plenty of research to come up with the Midwest section of Martha's American Food. Here's a list of the recipes:
                                                                                                                                                                              Pecan Cheese Balls
                                                                                                                                                                              Smoked Trout and Horseradish on Pumpernickel
                                                                                                                                                                              Stuffed Mushrooms
                                                                                                                                                                              Pigs in Blankets
                                                                                                                                                                              Dig-Deep Layer Salad (cabbage, wheat berries, cheese- no Jello)
                                                                                                                                                                              Farmhouse Chowder (chicken, root vegetables)
                                                                                                                                                                              Sloppy Joes
                                                                                                                                                                              Grilled Kielbasa Ring with Sauerkraut
                                                                                                                                                                              Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Whitefish
                                                                                                                                                                              Barbecued Ribs
                                                                                                                                                                              Stuffed Pork Chops
                                                                                                                                                                              Skillet-fried Trout with Herbs and Potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                              Chicken and Mushroom Hotdish
                                                                                                                                                                              Twice-Baked Potatoes with Sour Cream and Chives
                                                                                                                                                                              Wild Rice Salad
                                                                                                                                                                              Creamed Corn
                                                                                                                                                                              Indiana Succotash
                                                                                                                                                                              Hoosier Pie (sugar cream)
                                                                                                                                                                              Shaker Lemon Tartlets
                                                                                                                                                                              Persimmon Pudding (steamed pudding/fruitcake-like)
                                                                                                                                                                              Cherry Pie
                                                                                                                                                                              Caramel Corn
                                                                                                                                                                              Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream
                                                                                                                                                                              Caramel Corn Ice Cream
                                                                                                                                                                              Buckeye Candies
                                                                                                                                                                              beverages: Lingonberry Punch, Tom and Jerry, Sour Cherry Lemonade, Chicago Fizz

                                                                                                                                                                              1. I think the Pioneer Woman's website has several recpes that would qualify as typically Midwestern. She lives in Oklahoma.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. I just picked up a copy of The New Midwestern Table: 200 Heartland Recipes, by Amy Thielen. In spite of my self-imposed rule that I should not, can not, will not buy more cookbooks, I may have to keep this one. She hails from a part of MN where my father's people lived. The recipes bring back many memories. I will list just a few ---ones that transport me back many years:

                                                                                                                                                                                  German potato salad
                                                                                                                                                                                  blueberry pie (made with berries you picked yourself, of course)
                                                                                                                                                                                  finger rolls (dinner rolls made with mashed potato---there are many names for these)
                                                                                                                                                                                  MANY cabbage dishes
                                                                                                                                                                                  classic chicken and wild rice hot dish
                                                                                                                                                                                  fried midwestern chicken and gravy
                                                                                                                                                                                  chicken soup with rolled noodles
                                                                                                                                                                                  scalloped corn
                                                                                                                                                                                  various pie crusts (lard, butter)
                                                                                                                                                                                  potato doughnuts
                                                                                                                                                                                  fish dishes, including recipes for walleye, herring, smelt, panfish, lake trout and even eelpout!
                                                                                                                                                                                  sour cream raisin pie
                                                                                                                                                                                  pickled beets
                                                                                                                                                                                  fancy meat loaf
                                                                                                                                                                                  hog's headcheese (I remember this as something the adults ate but the kids avoided at all costs)
                                                                                                                                                                                  3 recipes for rutabagas
                                                                                                                                                                                  3 recipes for sauerkraut

                                                                                                                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: soccermom13

                                                                                                                                                                                    Headcheese is a good one. I totally forgot about that.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Love this book. My copy arrived earlier this week and I just got a chance to flip through it last night. I posted in a different thread the listing of recipes (mostly winterish) that were calling my name in this thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9186...

                                                                                                                                                                                    I read the recipe names off for my husband (born and raised Minnesotan) as I flipped through the book and he kept saying, "Yes!" or, "Check and see if she has one for ______." (and usually she did.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    And I love this quote from Andrew Zimmern on the book jacket. "Thielen has done the impossible, breaking new ground on a well-worn food meme and defining the food of our "place" in a way that's never been done before. Beautifully written, culturally meaningful, and loaded with brilliant cookery..."

                                                                                                                                                                                    Many of her recipes appear online:


                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                      We ate headcheese when we lived in Minnesota, but my mother referred to it as "veal loaf."

                                                                                                                                                                                      We also ate herring as children and thought it completely normal.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, it is buried on Saturday morning.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes! It's a great show. She's very genuine and likeable. Only 6 episodes though. Lots of her recipes on the FN site.


                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I really enjoyed the episode I caught (I rarely watch Food Network now...it's become akin to when MTV stopped playing music videos and I realized that I am no longer their target demographic). It certainly a welcome addition and I hope there are more episodes forthcoming.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                              TDQ---Thanks so much for your post. I too am a native Minnesotan, and this book called out to me too. I love Thielan's voice. And the memories these recipes bring back are wonderful.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Ha---did not see your post earlier this week because I am avoiding that "What cookbooks have you bought recently.....?" thread. It is an evil thread which tempts me to buy cookbooks I don't need. I think it might be a "near occasion of sin" for me to read that thread........ DH, with his 17 years of Catholic education, is outside so I can't ask him for the official definition of "near occasion of sin".....

                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: soccermom13

                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, man, headcheese. I remember my grandfather(old school German) making it for a family gathering. I had no idea what it was at the time but was horrified by the look of it. Have yet to try it to this day.

                                                                                                                                                                                            4. Wow! That is the fastest response to a request that I have ever had: 50 replies in 19 hours.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I have decided to do a general entry, rather than put in comments on each entry individually because there are so many. And thanks so much. (Please don't stop putting in new entries, but I thought that I would put in some comments now, since the response was so enthusiastic.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Much thanks to the posters who included recipes or links: Needcoffee's sugar cream pie, Debinindiana's links to sugar cream pie recipes and (pounded and breaded) pork tenderloin, Midwestern TT's Tatertot Casserole, and Throckwood's (modified) CI Green Bean Casserole. I will make them all!

                                                                                                                                                                                              An interesting point: Although I lived in Indiana from 1956 (at the age of 5) until I moved to Florida in 1990 (at the age of 39), there are some Midwestern dishes which I haven't even heard of: runza, porketta, chicken booyah, sugar cream pie, and Johnny Marzetti. I look forward to cooking all of these dishes, as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks a lot to the Dairy Queen and Foreverhungry who provided extensive insightful comments as to what constitutes Midwestern cooking. When I made my request, I had not thought it out that carefully. I just wanted to make some dishes for foreigners that Midwesterners call their own.

                                                                                                                                                                                              A lot of dishes have been characterized as Midwestern which I had no idea were Midwestern dishes. For instance, I had heard of Tater Tot Casserole, but did not know that this was a particularly Midwestern dish, although one poster set me straight that this is one of the dishes he/she thinks of immediately as a Minnesota dish.

                                                                                                                                                                                              A few miscellaneous comments: I had never heard of (Maidrite) "loosemeat" sandwiches until my girlfriend, originally from Iowa, clued me in on them when I was about 45 and living in Florida. She also pointed out that they play a prominent part in the television show, "Roseanne," where she works in a restaurant specializing in loose meat sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                              The dishes that kept coming up in postings were jello salad (rarely favorably), green bean casserole (some negative comments but many positive ones, as well), noodle casseroles--chicken and tuna, dumplings, sausages of all types--especially bratwurst and kielbasa, biscuits and gravy (which I thought of as a purely southern dish), and Wisconsin beer cheese soup (served elsewhere, as well).

                                                                                                                                                                                              I thought that the emphasis on German-originated food was interesting. Of course, we have Amish people throughout the Midwest, but these dishes seemed more generally of ethnic German origin.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I was also surprised at some of the dishes that were mentioned infrequently, possibly revealing my own "Northwest Indiana" orientation because these dishes are popular in the Chicago, Whiting, East Chicago, Indiana Harbor, and Gary areas (all located around the shores of Lake Michigan) but maybe not so much throughout the Midwest: deep dish pizza, Italian beef, Chicago dogs, and pan-fried lake perch. Thank you, Kitchengardengal for mentioning most of these!

                                                                                                                                                                                              I intend to cook all the dishes which I never heard of and all the dishes where recipes were supplied or linked to. (This is independent of the dinner I am planning.) For my far-Eastern friends, who generally have an abhorrence of cheese ("Why would you eat fermented milk?"--said one Chinese person), I may edit the offerings a bit, but I will definitely serve beer cheese soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks and please keep on commenting.

                                                                                                                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                gfr1111, though I have lived in Georgia now for 10 years, and have learned a whole new way of (Southern) cooking, my Michigan City roots (27 years) define Midwestern food to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                If I want any of those foods now, I have to make them myself - though there are a few Chicago dog/Vienna beef joints in Atlanta that we get to now and then.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I would not be so rude as to actually use this reply about why anyone would eat 'fermented milk' but here it is:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Why would anyone eat fermented soybeans?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ha, that what my immediate thought, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Re: German food -- at least as far as Indiana cooking goes -- the major wave of German migration to the US came in the years from 1848 to 1890. Indiana was being settled/built up then, so a lot of Germans (among them most of my greats/great-greats) moved down the Ohio to Cincinnatti and on up into Indiana.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Indianapolis had several German-language newspapers and periodicals that did great business until killed off by anti-German sentiment in WW1. People were actually imprisoned or mobbed for being/speaking German during that war, and a lot of people "Americanized" their names at that time. I think they kept cooking the same food, though.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    I assume there is a similar story for the Norwegian cooking in Minnesota, the Italian cooking (and Polish, I thought) around Chicago, the ?? cooking elsewhere in the Midwest. Each wave of immigrants moved to the frontier/opportunity of the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Minnesota actually has more people of German descent than Scandinavians. We had a similar patterns of German immigrants. Although my maternal great-grandfather settled down in NW Wisconsin, when he went through Ellis Island, his name was changed from Scmidt to Smith, but I don't know why.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, some of my second generation immigrants (my great great... uncles and aunts) left Indiana and ended up in Minnesota and parts west. Not surprising that there would be a lot of Germans there. We always think of the Scandinavians, though, don't we?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Most likely the official processing your great-grandfather made the switch, usually without asking permission. Typically, this was the result of laziness and indifference. For the official, it was easier to use the familiar Anglicized spelling than to struggle with the idiosyncrasies of foreign versions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                                                                                            You might be correct. I have cousins who's grandfather came from Sweden and his name was Olson. His name was changed because there were too many Olsons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            My paternal grandfather was from Ukraine and his name was not changed. If I do an internet seach using my family's surname, every single person is either a direct descendant of my paternal grandfather or a spouse of one. My father used to travel a lot on business all over the U.S. He used to check the local telephone books looking for possible relatives, but he never found anyone with our last name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I remember going to the Smith Family reunions for many years. My grandmother was one of 12 siblings. One year, the reunion was at my uncle's house (last name not Smith).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            At the end of the day, one of my cousins mentioned, "these Smith Family reunions sure can be a lot of fun, once all the Smiths leave."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Indy 67

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Nope, we kept the many-syllable German name through several generations until WW1, and started using an Anglicized version then. Not that uncommon at the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There were some very German towns in the midwest (think Cincinnati, Milwaukee), and German schools, kindergartens, newspapers, churches, bakeries, butchers and beerhalls. Most of these de-emphasized thier German roots during and following WW1. The government actively distrusted Germans at the time, and we all wanted to show our patriotism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. First of all, I think we need to define "Midwest". I grew up in the Midwest (Indiana) and now live in what I would consider the "upper" Midwest (Minnesota). They probably don't look very different from one another from the vantage point of, say, New York, but they really are very different in many ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        For example, I would NEVER think that the term "hotdish" was Midwestern. It is MINNESOTAN. Not good or bad, it just is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        For more traditional Midwestern (more Illinois, Indiana, Ohio stuff) recipes, a great source is any book by Marcia Adams. Her books often focus on Amish recipes, which are really the framework that Midwestern cooking is built upon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        One such dish is chicken and noodles. If you want to make it truly traditional, spoon it over mashed potatoes (I never like this, myself).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pie is huge; Sugar Cream Pie is unique to the region. Also big are casseroles, jello dishes, Swiss steak, ham loaf, etc. I'll think of more later - or if time will dig out a Marcia book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh, and ah, yes, the Breaded Tenderloin,can't forget that one. Usually gotten in restaurants rather than made at home. When it's good it's amazing, when it's bad, it's bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, as a native Iowan of Irish descent, beef and/or chicken and noodles most assuredly goes atop fresh mashed potatoes ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. For Christmas, my DIL gave me _Midwest Sweet Baking History_ by Jenny Lewis. It has some general history on the development of Midwestern cooking, and also on Midwestern food companies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. One dish that deserves honorable mention is mostacciolli, which is included at every St Louis banquet (I'm told it's more an Illinois thing).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Actually read through the entire thread, so any repeats or mistakes are for emphasis, not senility. (I hope.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Growing up in Michiana, farm stands were an important part of the scenery. Many had a cash box or jar as payment was on the honor system. So I have fond memories of asparagus, blueberries, cabbage, and gladiolas while heading to town for the Saturday shopping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pan fish were a requirement every Friday night, and I had all week to catch enough to feed 4 adults and 2 starving kids. Amazing how my grandfather always had a surprise quart of oysters whenever the fishing was poor. My grandmother used finally crushed Saltines to bread them and then pan fried in a mix of butter and bacon grease. They were served with bones and fins. The fins were crunchy. With bread on the table in case you choked on a bone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Smelt and whitefish out of the Great Lakes is another dish that screams Midwest. Dusted in seasoned flour and cooked in butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Prime steak. This is meat packing country. Corn finished and well marbled. I tolerate the grass fed stuff I get here in Florida.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin have a great dairy tradition. Colby, brick, cheddar, muenster and American cheese have a huge impact to the culture and culinary scene. There is a reason why Kraft Mac n cheese is the day to day standard in many homes. Did I mention the only site for producing limburger in the US? No matter what the wrapper, they all come from a creamery on State road N north of Monroe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweet corn, pop corn, it seems the best is from the Midwest. Throw in some wild rice and zucchini and you have defined the fall. Not to mention all the fruit pies. Simple recipe of sugar, salt, cornstarch and mace or cinnamon, and get ready to fight for the blue ribbon at the county fair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Casseroles you can get from any spiral bound cook book from a local church. Try to get them from the 60s or earlier.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Michiana, Michigan or Michiana Shores, Indiana?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. FWIW, I surfed past a promo for today's The Chew (which I militantly despise). The topic is midwest/heartland food, in conjunction with pimping the 100th episode of The Middle. (About the only thing that could make The Chew less watchable for me is to have Patricia Heaton on it.) For fans of either show, there's surely Hulu or other on-demand replay available. Opinionated? Who, me? ;-P

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The response by Dairy Queen upthread seems to me really solid. My own first thought was included in hers: rhubarb pie, as it's a plant that natively thrives in areas where the ground freezes in the winter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Regional foods: loose meat from Iowa, "tenderloin" sandwiches found in Iowa and Indiana (less so in Illinois, I think, for some reason); "hotdish," about which there is a raging current thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    German and polish ethnic foods, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Up in Minnesota/North Dakota there were some Scandinavian things--lutefisk, lefse, swedish meatballs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for confirming that detail about rhubarb. I'd always heard that rhubarb only grows where the ground freezes, but I've "known" that so long, I wasn't really sure anymore if it was true!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I grew up in the Midwest (Illinois) in a small town with a large population of descendants of Northern Italian immigrants. The cooking here was somewhat atypical for the Midwest and included chicken cacciatore over polenta and everybodies favorite bagna cauda. I was actually surprised when I visited my parents recently and stopped in the local Kroger's and the teenage checkout clerk looked at my purchases; anchovies, garlic and cream, and said "you're making bagna cauda early this year my mom doesn't make it till the holidays."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My favorite dishes that are Midwestern but heavily Chicago influenced included Chicken Vesuvio with its garlicy crisp potato quarters and shrimp DeJonge the latter of which was reserved for special occasions. Shrimp DeJonge taught me that almost everything tastes better with garlicy buttered bread crumbs on top. Numerous recipes for either are readily available on the internet. The Saveur recipe for Vesuvio is a good starting point but if you like your chicken skin crispy reduce the braising liquid over the heat by about 1/3 (make sure the chicken broth you use is low salt) and make sure that the skin on top is not covered with the braising liquid. Berghoff style creamed spinach was also a favorite although my mom used shallots instead of onions when she could get them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Oh! Carl's Gizmo sandwich from the MN and IA State Fairs.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Have to laugh, one dish I grew up thinking as "normal" I have realized is way midwestern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stouffer's Spinach Souffle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As a teen, it was part of dinner. We knew folks who had it AS dinner, with a martini or a glass of wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Then i move to LA and find folks who have never had it. Ever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So I'd say pick up a few, and play. You can serve it plain. You can thaw it and place it in a crepe to be cooked or a small pie shell, to be baked. But Americana it is. Enjoy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dear me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We are that all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I still do. Sometimes AS dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I never thought it as Midwestern though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              C. Hamster -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I never thought of it as midwestern either - until I discovered that my LA friends had never had it, let alone heard of it. I'm working on bringing them to the spinach side, but in the meantime, I'm happy I've had it all these years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A tray of spinach soufflé (baked, not nuked as you want that top crust), a glass of wine and a fresh roll? Perfect dinner to this day!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I agree! I also loved the stouffer's corn souffle...but that disappeared a long time ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My mother used to bake a couple of Stauffer's spinach souffles as a side with dinner, and somehow there were usually leftovers. Not a lot. .. just a serving or so.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For breakfast the next morning, she'd scramble some eggs and throw in the rest of the spinach souffle after the eggs had set up. It was delicious!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think I'll go get one just so I can have it in my eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I never have heard of Stouffer's Spinach Souffle until reading this thread. I had to look it up. I'm not sure it's a midwestern thing though. I look at it as a convenience frozen food item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Definitely a convenience frozen food item. In fact, one of the more gourmet ones from my childhood and teen-aged years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My mother served Stouffer's Spinach Souffle as a side dish at special family meals and there wasn't an ounce of mid-west in her. She and dad were both born in Brooklyn and moved to Washington, DC at the start of WWII where they lived the remainder of their lives.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Back in the 60s, I used to serve the Spinach Souffle except that I would buy an additional box of chopped spinach. I'd let both foods thaw, combine them, and bake. When Julia Child came on the scene, that marked the end of my Stouffer's Spinach Souffle days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm totally with you step by step. Baked, wine, good roll and butter and/or salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not the healthiest meal but yummy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I usually do this when cooking solo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: happybaker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I used to eat it for dinner regularly in the '80s in the San Francisco Bay Area. Must just be the so-calians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Has anyone mentioned cheese curds? I'd certainly never heard of them until I lived in the upper Midwest- and even then they had to be explained to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I think you're the first one and I think it's a great recommendation if you've got access to fresh curds.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Interesting thought. I myself don't partake, just from lack of habit. But I am recalling that my Mother--who spent many years in North Dakota before returning to the West Coast where she was originally from--came to visit me last Summer, and I recall her delight at seeing cheese curds among the items at our farmer's market. She HAD to get some.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Your post makes me realize that she, evidently, never sees those out West.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bada Bing

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I found some in Utah. Never on the east coast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Go on the cheese curd tour in WI if you are ever in the state. Link is below. Check out the cheese factories online. They will ship curd. They pack it in dry ice. Will come fresh. Yummy yummy.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not Mid-West only. New York State has squeaky cheese curds. Maybe specific to dairy states?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Beer brats- don't have a recipe for you but I'm sure someone else does.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Beer brat- cook a brat at a very low temperature and slowly on the grill - will take longer than most meat. This is done to cook it through all the way and avoid snapping the case (snapping the case will drain the brat of its juices and cause flare ups). When you are done, soak the brat in a beer bath. Get an aluminum pan you can discard when you are done, cut up and onion an throw it in the pan, add a few bottles of beer and a 1/2 stick of butter and simmer it on the grill. When you are done cooking the brats, transfer them to the brat bath. This will give you the ultimate brat with the ultimate flavor. Give it a try sometime; you will not regret you did it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wifoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't thing much of the beer flavor ever really gets into the brat. Just my opinon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Trust me, it works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Give this recipie a shot. We do the baths all the time - I live the middle of brat country. This one I posted even has bacon for additional flavor.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      John E., I was similarly skeptical, thinking "meat on one side of the casing, beer bath on the other, where's the flavor getting in?" My MN hub, educated in WI with a diet heavy in all-things-brat, convinced me finally: you sort of have to think of the onion/beer/butter bath as a glaze, nothing more. I started putting the brats back on the grill for the briefest of times just to caramelize that glaze a bit...and I saw his point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've done that method, except the beer/onion bath is on the stove instead of on the grill. I like the flavor of the beer infused onions, but I have found if you take a taste of a brat out of the bath plain, while it tastes good, I don't get any beer flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Ssshhh, but I have been known to slice a couple brats lengthwise and let them hang out in the bath. Apoplexy would ensue if I were found out, but...pretty darn good.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. A double brat on a Sheboygan hard roll - weclome to WI and the midwest! Fire up your grill and let them have it. For an appetizer, fire up your deep fryer and beer batter some cheese curds and watch them sizzle until they are nice and golden brown - enjoy. For your cocktail, make a nice brandy old fasion sweet and don't forget to garnish with olives and pickels. You will feel connected to the beautiful state of WI - a staple midwestern meal or WI meal I should say. People outside of the state will claim they can get this or it is not unique to the state, that is fine, we own these and it is the best here!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wifoodie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now there is a signature midwestern thing! Maybe not a dish, but the "Brandy Old Fashioned" is a very unique regional cocktail variation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. One other thing I would like to recommend is a beer cheese soup made with a nice WI cheddar. Go online and look up recipies for WI beer cheese soup. Awesome! Have that with the other artery clogging goodness I mentioned in my earlier post. Is it comfort food or heaven? You decided...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My vote: any sort of casserole that involves egg noodles and condensed soup: chicken noodle casserole, tuna noodle casserole...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Lots of focus here on the Upper Midwest. But the Midwest also runs south of Minnesota, actually, and cooking in Southern Illinois, Southern Indiana, and Southern Missouri is often Southern-oid because those areas were settled early by Southerners who came over the Ohio River starting right after the Revolution. Thus, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings (the rolled kind that are like fat noodles), fried cornmeal mush, corn bread, corn cakes (pancakes made of cornmeal), fried "side meat" (salt pork), and green beans cooked all day with a ham bone and "Irish" potatoes, are delicious parts of the scene.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My late mother was from Iowa and she made homemade scalloped potatoes that I am sure were a Midwest recipe. She also made a butterscotch pie (maybe once a year) that was butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, corn starch and I believe a drop of vinegar and salt. Her scalloped potatoes were caramelized onion and then a flour based savory white sauce with salt pepper...poured over a large casserole dish of thickly sliced russets and then into her hot oven. Tasty.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My late Irish-American Grandmother made excellent scalloped potatoes and fried potatoes with onions for breakfast [in Iowa]. She also made a dish popular around Des Moines called cavatelli.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The people from that area knew how to cook and eat. Plus the old school scratch cooks like my mom and your grandma knew their ingredients.