Saturday, March 24, 2012

Ohio and Michigan (2nd in a series)

Let's take a quick look at Ohio and Michigan.

     Ohio is the most eastern state of what we call the Midwest.  As such it has varied influences in it's cuisine, in a previous post we discussed the oddity that is Cincinnati chili and the more I think about it, Ohio is state with a bit of a cuisine multiple personality disorder.  Don't get me wrong I think that can be a good thing.  Ohio just isn't quite sure which area of the country it belongs to.  The South? East? Midwest?  An argument could be made for any of those.  Well, I'm not really sure either, but today I declare it to be in the Midwest.  So there.    O.K. what to cook from Ohio?  Not many people know that just before the Civil War, Ohio was the pork center of the country.  They actually used to have massive pig drives!  Drovers would take hundreds of hogs at a time and drive them to East Coast markets, sometimes hundreds of miles!  This was incredibly slow going averaging only five miles a day.  It's a good thing they brought there own bacon with them.  So, pork it is

Hard to imagine they are so tasty.

3/4 pound pork tenderloin
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon milk
3/4 cup of fine bread crumbs (like panko)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
4 kaiser rolls

     Cut pork crosswise into 4 pieces.  With a meat mallet, pound each slice between plastic wrap to about 1/4 inch thick.
      In a shallow bowl combine flour, onion powder and a grinding of pepper.  In another shallow bowl combine egg and milk.  In a third bowl place the bread crumbs.  Dip each pork slice into the flour mixture, coating well, then into the egg mixture and then into the bread crumbs.
     In a large skillet, (cast iron works best) cook pork slices in hot oil over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or till pork is no longer pink, turning once.  Remove from the skillet; keep warm.  Repeat with the other slices.
     Place on buns, and serve with mustard, pickles, onions and any other condiment you like.

I just found this to be a disturbingly funny photo. Thanks to Maggie Smith
                                             Image: Maggie Smith /


Now on to Michigan.
      When the first explorers came to what is now Michigan, they found an area incredibly rich in fish and game.  Ducks, geese, partridge and turkey to name a few, along with larger game such as elk, deer, and even moose roamed the woods.  Early French trappers and hunters developed a technique of mixing tough meat with vegetables and simmering over a slow fire.  They called it "booyaw", using the French-Canadian dialect word for "bouillon".
     This stew recipe could be attributed to many different areas, but I think that it is representative of the type of stew that the early settlers of Michigan would have made.  In fact the first recipe in the "Settlement Cookbook" from 1903 is for a rustic stew very similar to this one.  What makes this stew different from many you've probably tried is coffee.  Don't let that scare you away it really adds a depth of flavor that is truly remarkable.

1 1/2 pound beef stew meat cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/2 cups strong coffee
2 tablespoons molasses
1 clove garlic minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
4 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch slices
4 small onions quartered
3 medium potatoes peeled and cut up
3 more tablespoons all purpose flour

    Coat the beef cubes with a mixture of 3 tablespoons of flour and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  In a Dutch oven brown half of the meat at a time in hot oil.  Return all the meat to the pan.  Stir in the coffee, molasses, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, red pepper, and a little more salt.  Cover; simmer 1 1/2 hours or till meat is nearly tender.
     Add the carrots, onion, potatoes, and 1 1/2 cups of water.  Simmer, covered, about 20 minutes or till vegetables are tender.  Combine the 3 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of water and stir into the stew.  Cook and stir until stew has thickened an bubbly, about 3-4 minutes.
     Get a big hunk of rustic bread and dig in.

     Next time, Illinois and Indiana.

Again, I can't say it enough.  Cook with cast iron!  It's not that expensive, it's a snap to clean and your food will just be better.

Stay Hungry,