Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday (Do Over!) – Week Thirty – Wisconsin – Bacon and Potato Cheddar Cheese Soup

As you may recall, I blundered on Tuesday and went all out on the state of Wyoming, only to realize that it was not the 30th state; that honor belongs to Wisconsin. In an attempt to redeem myself, I went back to the cookbook shelves and I now properly welcome you to week 30 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday (even though it’s Friday). This week we (finally) welcome Wisconsin, who joined the union on May 29, 1848.

Here are some interesting facts about Wisconsin. It is nicknamed ‘The Badger State’, but not because it has a crazy abundance of the animals living there. It was named that because of the early migrant miners, who burrowed into the hillsides for temporary shelter rather than seeking a more permanent housing solution. It was a free state and an important stop on the Underground Railroad. It was on March 20, 1854, a group of citizens who were angered by the threat of an expansion of slave states that created the Republican Party. And, I think it would no surprise to anyone that Wisconsin’s more than 1.2 billion dairy cows produce over three billion gallons of milk annually.

With all that milk, Wisconsin is also a huge cheese producer, and even its residents call themselves cheeseheads. So on that note, I sought out the proper recipe to acknowledge this and found that Cheese Soup is a pretty big deal in Wisconsin. Like many other states with a ‘famous’ dish, there was an abundance of versions to pick from. Probably most famous is their Cheese and Beer soup, but Josh is not a fan of anything cooked with alcohol, so I went for a version that was more in tune with his liking. I settled on Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup, which combines a nice vegetable base with potato, bacon and cheese to create a very dense and hearty soup. It was thick to the point of being almost like a pudding, so I have adjusted the recipe below to include more liquid than what was originally called for. I also reduced the amount of cheese from the original, and swapped out evaporated milk for the heavy cream. Using evaporated milk not only reduces the calorie count, but also reduces the risk that your soup will curdle. I almost always make this switch and have never felt that the dish was lacking.

Overall, I give this recipe a B+. It is so decadent that you can’t eat a whole lot of it, but it was tasty. And looking back, I do realize that I made a similar soup when we were in Vermont. God, what a bad week I am having! Seriously, I am just going to move and call this week a wash. By the way, next up is California. I checked twice. Maybe we will just have a Russian River Valley Chardonnay. Stay tuned and see you next week!

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Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup

Recipe for: Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup

Ingredients

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup sliced carrots (roughly 1 large)
⅓ cup sliced celery (roughly 1 stalk)
⅓ cup chopped onion  (½ a medium)
⅓ cup red pepper, diced (½ a medium)
½ cup mushrooms, diced (a handful)
3 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup flour
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1 cup bacon cooked and crumbled, divided (about ¾ pound)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Franks Hot Sauce or more
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions

  1. In a large pan cook the diced potatoes in salted water until tender. Then drain. Set aside and cover to keep warm.
  2. In another pan melt butter, and then add carrots, celery, onion, red pepper, mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until tender. Stir in the ¼ cup flour and coat all veggies. Cook for about a minute, stirring and tossing.
  3. Add the cooked potatoes to the cooked vegetable mixture. Then stir in the chicken broth and evaporated milk. Cook over medium heat stirring until slightly thickened. Reduce heat and add in ¾ cup of bacon bits, dry mustard, hot sauce, garlic powder, and salt & pepper.
  4. Gradually stir in cheese, stirring until just melted. Do not boil the soup or it may burn.
  5. Adjust seasonings to your taste, adding more hot sauce if you want it a little spicy.
  6. Top each serving with the remaining bacon bits.
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Wisconsin Bacon and Potato Cheese Soup

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – What happens when you work through the wrong state?

Welcome to week 30 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week was supposed to be the 30th state admitted to the union, which somehow in my mind was Wyoming.

It’s not.

It’s Wisconsin.

Wyoming is #44.

What really sucks about this is that I hated doing research on Wyoming, because it is one of those states that does not have an “official” food of any sort. Not a dish, dessert, pastry, soup, chili or otherwise.  But you know what? I did find a recipe and I did make it, so I am going to share it here with the hope that by the time I get to state #44, I will have actually found a true recipe for Wyoming, or at least a good story for the one I use.

The recipe I found was for Wyoming Pudding, which appeared in a book titled “Cooking in Wyoming /Woman’s Suffrage Centennial edition” [Prairie Publishing: Casper, WY] 1965. I don’t have the book, so I have no idea what the story is behind it, but since it had Wyoming in the name and it came from a book written in the state, I figured it was worth a try.

The recipe itself is very simple, with only a handful of ingredients, and the hardest task being the shredding of your apples. Start to finish takes under an hour.

The result is a sort of apple crisp looking for the crisp part. It has a slightly “gooey-ness” to the bottom and a whole lot of apple and sweetness. My first reaction was not to like it, but if you get the right forkful and a good helping of vanilla ice cream, it’s actually pretty tasty.

I am going to give this a B. Mostly because it just doesn’t have a good back story, and I am totally annoyed with myself for making a recipe for the wrong state. The good news is that I now know that Wyoming is a real challenge and I am going to invest in looking for this cookbook in the hope that it has something a little more hardy and worthy of my journey.

I will say that for dinner, I made a Bison Burger, because Wyoming is the land of buffalo and it’s where they filmed ‘Dances with Wolves’. It was pretty tasty, but not worth posting up a recipe. I promise when #44 comes up for real, I will put up something so much better all the way around.

For now, I have to get working on Wisconsin. They eat cheese there, right?

Recipe for Wyoming Pudding

Ingredients:

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts
2 cups grated tart apple

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl in order given.
Pour into greased and floured 9 inch round cake pan. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
Serve warm with ice cream or cool with whipped cream.

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Wyoming Pudding

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Nine – Iowa – Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich

Welcome to week 29 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome Iowa, who joined the union on December 28, 1846. Honestly, I know very little about Iowa and even had to pull out my trusty map to remind myself of its actual location. In case you are like me, it is bounded by the states of Minnesota to the north, Wisconsin and Illinois to the east, Missouri to the south, and Nebraska and South Dakota to the west. It is…landlocked. It is the only state to have a name that begins with two vowels. And it is also the only state that has two of its borders defined by rivers, with the Mississippi river on its eastern edge and the Missouri River and its tributary, the Big Sioux, forming the western border.

Now that we know where Iowa is, here are some interesting facts about the state. The city of Riverside, Iowa enjoys the unique status of being the “future birthplace” of James Tiberius Kirk, Captain of the starship USS Enterprise. As Kirk says, “No, I am from Iowa. I only work in outer space.”  The automatic bread slicer was invented by Iowan Otto Frederick Rohwedder in 1912. Clear Lake, Iowa is the place where the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed in a field in 1959, killing all on board. And River City is the place where the musical “The Music Man” takes place. Seventy-six trombones, anyone?

When searching out a recipe for Iowa, it quickly became apparent that this state is very famous for a sandwich called the Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich.

maid-rite_logo

This dish was created in 1926 by a butcher named Fred Angell. He had mixed ground meat with spices and seasonings, and when he shared his creation with a deliveryman, the man said “This sandwich is made right.” Fred wasn’t necessarily a good speller, but his sandwich became a huge hit and there are still Maid-Rite restaurants making it today.

Loose meat sandwich 1
Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich

There are a number of different versions of this sandwich on the internet, mostly divided by cooking method and the amount of tang vs. sweet ingredients. Since Maid-Rite was never cooked in a Crockpot, I opted for a stove top version, and tweaked the combination of ingredients to my liking. The result is a tasty meat filling with a nice balance of sweetness, but really, really messy. I am thinking that the only way to actually eat one of these without a knife and fork would be to wrap it in sandwich paper, since all the meat otherwise just falls out of the bun. Regardless, it was super simple to make and comes together in under 30 minutes. An easy meal for a weeknight, and a nice change from a standard hamburger or sloppy joe. I give it a solid A for tastiness.

Enjoy, and see you next week in Wisconsin!

Recipe for Maid-Rite Loose Meat Sandwich (my version, adapted from several sources)

Ingredients:

1 lb Ground Beef
1 medium Onion, chopped
¾ cup beef broth
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 ½ Tbsp Soy Sauce
Hamburger Buns
Mustard, Ketchup and Pickle slices

Directions:

In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef and onion, breaking the meat up as you cook until the pieces are very small.
Combine the broth, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce in a small bowl. Add it to the meat, stir and continue chopping ground beef. Bring the liquid to a simmer and continue to cook, uncovered, until liquid has evaporated (about 15 minutes).

Adding liquid IA Simmer IA Cooked down
Top a heaping spoonful onto the hamburger bun and top with your choice of pickles, mustard and ketchup.

Loose meat sandwich 2

 

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Eight – Texas – Texas Red Chili

Welcome to week 28 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome Texas, who joined the union on December 29, 1845.  Texas has a very interesting story on its path to statehood. It was originally a Spanish colony and was inhabited by mostly people from Mexico. When Mexico gained its independence in 1821, it established new rules for settling colonies and encouraged foreign settlers to move into the area known as Tejas. It was during this time that a man named Moses Austin made a deal to establish a colony with 300 US settlers. Although he died shortly thereafter, his son Stephen Austin inherited the land trust and settled the land near the Brazos and Colorado in 1824.

These new settlers did not consider themselves Mexican nationals, and brought with them slaves, despite it being against the law in Mexico. Fearing they were losing control of the region, Mexico banned US immigration into Tejas in 1830. They increased their military presence and placed restrictions on slavery, which caused the settlers to become angry and demand more independence.

By the mid 1830s, the conflict between Texas (who wanted their own statehood) and Mexico had reached a breaking point, and in 1835, the Texas Revolution began. It was a brutal fight and included the fight at the Alamo. The eventual outcome was the formation of an independent country; The Republic of Texas.  In September of 1836, a formal government was formed and Sam Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas. His vice president was Mirabeau B. Lamar and Stephen Austin was named secretary of state. In 1839, Texas adopted their official flag, the Lone Star, which is still in use today as the official state flag of Texas.

Lone Star Flag
The new country was not without its struggles, and in 1846 it was annexed into the US by then US President Polk. At that time, a border was established between the US and Mexico, but the two countries did not agree on its placement. War was declared in May 1846. The Mexican American war, called the ‘splendid little war”, resulted in huge gains for the US. On February 2, 1848, the war was brought to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo. The treaty established boundaries between the United States and Mexico, with Mexico officially recognizing Texas as a part of the United States. Additionally, the treaty included the acquisition of Mexico’s northern territory—which included California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as parts of Wyoming and Colorado—for $15 million. The United States added more that 25% of its present day size, and Mexico lost over half its land as a result of the treaty.

So that is how we ended up with Texas and a whole bunch of other states too! I will not repeat this story for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada! Perhaps just a cross reference to this history lesson will do.

So, let’s see what food we whipped up this week. I thought about going all Tex-Mex or something, but was convinced by my friend John (who happens to live in Texas) that I needed to make Texas Red, aka chili. And since it is the state food of Texas, I guess I really didn’t need to argue about it. A little more history…chili originated in San Antonio in the mid nineteenth century as a peasant food. It was made from ingredients that were local to the region, including garlic, oregano, meat, chile peppers and cumin. It spread out of Texas by the huge cattle drives of the late 1800s. It was filling and nutritious, yet inexpensive to make in quantity.

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Texas Red

But here’s the thing. Texas chili is like chicken soup. There are literally thousands of recipes for Texas Red, and each one of them is “award winning”, “authentic” and “the best”. So how do you pick just one? I started with my understanding of the “true” ingredients and worked from there, basing some of it on my own personal taste and also my lack of 2-4 days to make it. True Texas Red starts with stew meat, preferably chuck roast. There is no ground beef in Texas Red! There are also no beans. I was told that Gebharts chili powder was also an ‘authentic’ blend, but I am a Northeast girl, so I had to improvise and find a deep dark blend at my local Whole Foods. The rest is pretty straight forward. I didn’t go all fancy with coffee or chocolate, as I felt that was heading more towards a boutique style rather than something true to the state. Mine uses simple ingredients, deep browning of the meat and slow cooking to meld the flavors.

The result is a tasty bowl of chili. It was pretty mild for my taste and I would probably punch it up with some cayenne and ancho chile powder. The meat was incredibly soft and tender. I will admit that I like my chili with beans. This recipe, in my humble Northeast girl opinion, was not my favorite, but toss in some beans and spices and I would make it again. I give this recipe (as is) an A-. I give my history lesson a solid A.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about Texas and the west. Next week…Iowa! I’m already humming 76 trombones.

Recipe for Texas Red Chili (adapted from several sources)

Ingredients

1 ½  teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
2 ½  pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1½ inch cubes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large onion, diced
¼ teaspoon kosher salt.
1 chipotles en adobo, minced, with sauce
¼ cup chili powder
1 ½ tablespoons cumin powder
½ tablespoon dried oregano
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1/8 cup masa harina (mexican corn flour)
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ cup water
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Sear the Beef: Salt the beef cubes with 1 tsp of salt. Sear the beef cubes in 2-3 batches. Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a large (8 quart) dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking, then add the beef. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, until well browned. I usually just treat them as having two “sides” – 3 minutes, flip, 3 minutes on the other side. Between each batch, add a teaspoon of oil, and let heat for about 1 minute before adding the next batch of beef. Put browned cubes in a big bowl while you work on the other batches. When they’re done, you’ll have a nice, browned fond on the bottom of the pot. If the fond looks like it is starting to burn, reduce the heat to medium, and put the beef cubes directly over the part of the pan that’s in danger of burning.

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    Brown your meat
  2. Saute the Onions: Reduce heat to medium. You want 1 ½ tablespoons of fat in the pan. Add more vegetable oil, or pour out fat to get to 1 ½  tbsp. Put the onions in the pot, add ½ tsp salt, then sauté the onions until softened and just starting to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Scrape the pot after a minute or two, to loosen up the browned fond and mix it into the onions.
  3. Toast the Spices: Make a hole in the center of the onions, then add the chipotle puree, ¼  cup of chili powder, cumin and oregano to the pot. Stir for 1 minute, or until you really start to smell the spices – you want to toast them a bit. Make another hole in the center of the onions, and add the garlic and diced jalapeno. Stir for another minute, or until you smell the garlic.
  4. Cook the Chili: Make sure your oven rack is in the bottom third of the oven, then heat oven to 325°F. Add the tomatoes and water to the chili pot, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any stuck spices. Add the reserved beef cubes and any juices they released. Turn the heat on the stove to high, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, and move it into the oven.Bake for 3 hours. Check after each hour and add a little water if your chili starts to get dry.

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    Combine your ingredients, cover and bake for 3 hours.
  5. Final Seasoning: Mix the masa harina, ½ tsp chili powder and water in a small bowl until combined. It should be the consistency a thick cream; add more water if it needs it. Remove the chili from the oven, and stir in the masa harina mix. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, or put back in the oven for 10 minutes to thicken. Stir in the lime juice, and season to taste.
  1. Rest and Reheat: (Optional, but helps the flavor a lot.) Leave the chili on the counter, uncovered, until it cools to room temperature, a couple of hours. Cover and move to the refrigerator. Refrigerate overnight, or up to four days. Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you want to serve, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

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    Texas Red

 

Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday – Week Twenty Seven – Florida – The Cuban Sandwich

Welcome to week 27 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we focus on Florida, who joined the union on March 3, 1845.  I was actually surprised when Florida came up as #27, as the whole rest of the East Coast had joined our happy family so long ago. And what I learned was that the Spanish had actually controlled and held on to this piece of land until 1845. It was a Spanish colony, and Florida had a much larger panhandle earlier on, when its borders reached from the mouth of the Savannah River to the Mississippi. Most of that land was acquired through numerous skirmishes with the US, and the Spaniards finally decided that they were literally fighting a losing battle and simply walked away from the colony, leaving it to the US.

Even after becoming a state, most people lived in the northern panhandle region, leaving the mid section for Native Americans, escaped slaves and some brave ranchers.  It was not until the later 1900s that the far south developed and became a preferred migration spot for Northerners looking for better weather. It is often said that everyone who lives in Florida is from somewhere else; that very few people are actually born there. For this reason, Florida is one of our most culturally diverse states.

For my new recipe, I decided to take a look at the huge influence that Cuba has had on southern Florida. I settled on a dish that is known almost everywhere, but I had never made it myself. It is known as the Cuban Sandwich.  The history of this sandwich seems to originate in Florida around Key West in the 1860s and then Tampa in the 1880s, following the flow of traffic with the cigar industry. It is believed that the sandwich was popular with factory workers and eventually flowed out into the community at large. With the large influx of Cuban immigrants in the 1960s, the sandwich quickly gained notoriety in Miami and continues to be on most lunch menus there today.

Cuban Sandwich
The Cuban Sandwich

The sandwich itself is pretty straightforward and hasn’t changed much since its arrival. The key is making the roast pork, as the rest of the ingredients are deli foods. The recipe I used to make the pork was from Food Network, as I liked the marinade ingredients and it was easy to make in my slow cooker.

I really liked the way the pork came out, probably because of the citrus and salt that flavored the meat nicely. Cooking it all day made it fall off the bone and I found myself picking at the meat as I was making the sandwich.

The sandwich itself was ok. I found that the dill pickle became the dominant flavor, which I didn’t care for and ended up pulling them out. Some recipes I had seen called for Bread and Butter pickles, and I think I would have liked their subtle taste better.

Overall, I give the classic Cuban Sandwich a B, but I give the pork a solid A. I will be picking at those left overs for several days and loving it all.

Thanks all. Enjoy and see you next week in… Texas. (yikes)

Recipe for Slow Cooked Cuban Pork Sandwich (from FoodNetwork.com):

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
Juice of 1 orange (2 tablespoons)
3 to 3 1/2-pound boneless or bone in pork shoulder
Six 6-inch sub rolls
Yellow mustard
1 pound Swiss, thick-sliced
1 pound honey ham, thinly sliced
2 cups dill pickle chips

Directions:

Mix the oil, salt, cumin, oregano, black pepper, red pepper, garlic, lime juice and orange juice in a small bowl. Make slits in the pork with a paring knife and rub liberally all over with the oil mixture. Place the pork in a slow cooker and top with the remaining juices from the bowl. Cover and cook on low until tender, flipping once halfway through, about 6-8 hours.

Cuban Pork
Slowed cooked Cuban Pork

Remove from the slow cooker and let cool slightly. Shred the pork into thick chunks with 2 forks. Set the pork aside and keep warm in the cooking liquid.

Slice the rolls open and smear both sides with mustard. Layer on the Swiss, ham, pulled pork and pickles.

Preheat a Panini press (I used my George Forman grill). Place one sandwich at a time in the press and heat until the bread is browned and the cheese has melted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove to a plate and serve hot. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches.