North Dakota’s Favorite Must-Try Food Might Surprise You
Better weather means we have more time outside. Who wants to fire up the oven for supper when the grill is waiting to be used? Steaks, chicken, burgers, brats, and all the summer pasta salads you can stand!
When it comes to food in general, we all have our favorites. For me, it's a nice steak or burger in the summer and a good hot dish in the fall. We all have our own favorites, but what do we say is the best as a state? The Food Network asked a few questions and came up with the most favorite food in each state. You might be surprised what our region likes.
Montana - Huckleberry Ice Cream
Wilcoxson's Ice Cream is as important to the food of Montanans as a juicy steak or a hearty hamburger. The Livingston-based company has been feeding people in Big Sky Country since 1912. It has 58 flavors, including local favorites like Bobcat Batter and Chocolate Runs Through It. Sandwich shops like The Pickle Barrel in Bozeman, Belgrade, Livingston, and Billings mix Wilcoxson's into milkshakes or put softball-sized scoops of it on cones. Between Yellowstone and Glacier, you can buy Wilcoxson's Huckleberry Ice Cream Bars at almost any grocery store, gas station, or hardware shop with a "Proudly Serving Wilcoxson's" sign in the front window.
South Dakota - Lefse
Lefse is a favorite food of Norwegian Americans. The flat potato bread is best when spread with butter and rolled up with sugar if you want something sweet. Scandinavian grandmothers, aunts, and mothers keep the family recipe, and when grandma is ready to give it up, they get the lefse grill, turning stick, and corrugated wooden rolling pin. South Dakota is known for its lefse, but it and other foods with Norwegian roots like krumkake, sandbakkels, and rosettes are made at home, not in restaurants. If you can't make it to grandma's house, you can buy pre-packaged lefse at some Hy-Vee shops or at bakeries or church bake sales around Christmas.
Minnesota - Hot Dish
If you ask any Minnesotan what they call this combination of beef or chicken, vegetables, and canned cream of mushroom soup — traditionally topped with Tater Tots — they will say "hot dish." This simple casserole is popular at everything from church suppers to family reunions. It's even the site of a fierce culinary competition in which the state's congressional delegation competes to see who can cook the finest hot dish. While it's primarily a home-cooked dish, The Mason Jar in Eagen serves a version that will remind you of your grandmother's cuisine, assuming your grandmother created everything from scratch. Browned ground beef is blended into a thick and creamy mushroom sauce before being draped over tots. Melted cheddar cheese and a few more tots top the rib-sticking perfection.
North Dakota - Cheese Buttons
These dumplings may have a single fundamental recipe, but they go by many different names. Ukrainian speakers call them varenyky or pyrohy, while the Czechs say they’re vareniki. In Polish, they’re called pierogi. In German, they’re kase knoephla. Cheese buttons are a term used by second-, third-, and fourth-generation North Dakotans to describe plump little dumplings stuffed with creamy cottage cheese. They're usually boiled or pan-fried in butter before being topped with cheese, scallions, or sautéed onions, and a drizzle of fresh or sour cream. Buy frozen cheese buttons at Dickinson's Ukrainian Cultural Institute, or order freshly boiled dumplings by Tuesday and pick them up on Wednesday. If I am not on the radio in the coming days, I'll probably be working my way back from Dickinson with a bunch of these little gems!
You can see all the favorites identified by the Food Network here.