A Field Guide to America's Weird and Wacky Pasta Innovations. Ingalls Photography
Midwestern cuisine has simple roots—the region’s strong connection to agriculture has defined its hearty, locally-driven cooking. In the American heartlands, find an abundance of fresh produce that’s used to feed the entire hungry nation—from crisp vegetables to juicy fruits and leagues of heirloom wheats. While synonymous with “American food,” Midwestern cuisine has historically been influenced largely by the cuisines of central and eastern Europe. Today, there are very few rules: the region is an incredibly diverse place that also celebrates the traditional foodways of immigrants ranging from Japanese to Filipino. From venison loin to beer cheese soup, here are our very best Midwestern recipes.
This custardy ice cream gets its tropical flavor from paw paws, a musky-sweet fruit native to the American Midwest that tastes somewhere between a banana and a mango, with a plush, creamy texture. Get the recipe for Paw Paw Ice Cream »
Good venison is buttery and beefy, hardly gamey at all. Amy Thielen likes to freeze then wet-age wild venison to allow its fibers to relax, thawing it in its vacuum-sealed package in the refrigerator for at least a week. Because the loin is so lean, it is best cooked over a steady push of medium-high heat—not high heat, which creates a bull’s-eye effect. To help the outside caramelize, Thielen adds malted milk powder to the spice rub, which also adds a subtle, nutty richness to the final sauce. Get the recipe for Spice-Rubbed Venison Loin with Red Wine Sauce »
Despite the name, Boston Coolers are as about Midwestern as Marge Gunderson and repressed emotions. And they’re our favorite kind of soda shake—a milkshake with a soft drink replacing the milk. Ginger ale adds a warm, spicy bite that cuts through all the vanilla richness. Get the recipe for Boston Cooler »
This hearty, chicken stock—braised kraut is smoky, spicy, and well balanced, with sweet onions, garlic, and bacon fat nicely contrasting the brightness and brininess of jarred sauerkraut. If you prefer the end result even more sour, feel free to add a splash more brine from the jar. Get the recipe for Braised Paprika Kraut »
Invented by Mark Schiffler, the original chef of Wynkoop Brewery in Denver, Colorado, this Wisconsin-inspired soup has been traded and tweaked over the years into its current state: a thick, cheddar-based soup cut through with piquant Gorgonzola. Get the recipe for Beer Cheese Soup »