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North Country Life: A Signature Dish

In the February 9, 2006 edition of The Listening Post, we issued this call-out to North Country cooks:

"Today, while we gathered around a Boston cream pie in celebration of Gregory's advancing decrepitude, the topic of signature regional dishes was tabled, so to speak. What's ours? French fries and gravy is just "poutine--hold the cheese." We consume everything from Mongolian buffet to Buffalo wings, but it all seems to originate somewhere else. Yet every self-respecting village in Europe has its own distinctive cheese or wine or sausage or something. How does this lack affect our claim to a distinct regional identity? Clearly, something needs to be done. The floor is open for nominations for an original signature North Country dish. Send in a recipe for a traditional candidate, or invent a new one from scratch, and tell us a little about how your dish can represent us to the world."

Here are the responses we have received so far from listeners. It's not too late to make your own contribution.


(Simmered all day on a woodstove top or prepared in a crock pot )

  • 1chuck steak (2” thick)
  • 5 fat carrots (or more, if taste demands) cut into 2” chunks
  • 3 medium onions quartered
  • 2 Idaho potatoes cut into 2” chunks

Cover w/water. Cook low all night on woodstove or in crock pot. At cooking end add: 1/2 box frozen corn (thawed) (*additional veggies to the core recipe may be
1/2 box frozen peas (thawed) added or subtracted)
Heat til added veggies are tasty.* Correct seasonings. If bouillon granules are needed for enhancement, defer adding additional salt.

Corn Bread: A double batch of ‘Jiffy’ is fast and fluffy OR your mother’s favorite recipe. Serve piping hot stew in soup bowls either OVER the corn bread or on the side with butter and raspberry Jam!!!!!!!!!

Miriam Kashiwa

Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

  • Layer thinly sliced potatoes with sliced onions. Sprinkle on salt, pepper and flour. A few chunks of butter on each layer.
  • Generously add slices (thicker now!) of north country ham.
  • Repeat layers to fill casserole dish. Pour over good ol' north country milk till it shows through the top layer.
  • Bake (I use a wood stove oven) for a couple hours, covered at first, then remove cover till top layer is lightly browned with a nice golden, buttery skin. I think this dish is a much overlooked cuisine delicacy. Scrumptious on a cold winter day.

Rhubarb Pie

  • Chop rhubarb from the garden early in the spring when the stalks are a foot or so high. Freeze 1" pieces by just popping in the freezer.
  • Make tender, flaky pie crust (I could give you that recipe, too :)
  • Remove 4 cups frozen rhubarb from freezer. Stir in 1 1/4c. sugar, 1 egg, 1/2 c. flour and a little cinnamon. Mound in crust. Add butter to the top.
  • Place top crust on, with pretty pattern cut in to let out steam.
  • Bake at 350* for about an hour, or till bubbly and golden.

Enjoy! I love sharing my recipes.
Diane Romlein

Elk Lake Brook Trout w/ Wild Mushrooms

  • 4 brook trout dressed and rubbed in/out with fresh lemons - best if caught from an Adirondack Lake!
  • 1/4 c melted butter for basting

Wild mushroom stuffing:

  • 1 1/2 c wild mushrooms (shitake, morels, chanterelles, porcini, etc)
  • 1 cup chopped onion sautéed
  • 1/2 c melted butter
  • 1/4 c parsley finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. wild thyme finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. crushed rosemary
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • 1c soft bread crumbs

Mix stuffing ingredients and stuff into fish lying on side. Lightly baste and place in a preheated oven @ 350 for approx. 25 minutes. Garnish with some wild watercress to give a real Adirondack dish some real Adirondack flare!

Cammy Sheridan, Elk Lake Lodge

North Country Fish Fry

  • It's not a recipe - it's about THE north country specialty - "Fish Fry" on Friday nights....we've traveled all over the east coast & the "Friday Night Fish Fry" is only available here in the north country. Our son lived in Oneonta, NY, for a while & we could never find a fish fry there - our daughter lives in Rhode Island - of course they have fish all the time so the Friday night special isn't special....there are discussions about the "Best" fish fry - about what makes a good fish fry - is it the batter? The crumbs? The fat? Then there is the quality of the coleslaw & French must have started with the Roman Catholic "fish on Friday" rule but even though that rule was abolished, the Friday Night Fish Fry remains a specialty of our region. McD's fish does not count. I also think that because really fresh fish was difficult to get in our area, the restaurants and diners would order it for Friday & everyone would take advantage of that fact.
    So, that's my input on the Signature North Country Dish!
    Barbara Cook

Sugar on Snow and more

  • What about maple syrup on snow - sugar on ice? Whatever it is traditionally called.
  • Or a Mohawk dish - like corn soup - I don't know any recipes, perhaps others will submit one.
  • Pan-fried venison and onions Sandra Hildreth, Saranac Lake

Grandma Brown and...

  • I grew up on a farm near DeKalb Jct and my husband grew up in nearby Hermon. A North Country recipes could be Grandma Brown Beans baked with a healthy dose of local maple syrup and onions, a venison recipe, or as simple as a bowl of vanilla ice cream with maple syrup (again), walnuts, eaten with saltine crackers. Best wishes and happy eating.
    Martha Vining, Pisgah Forest, NC

Goulash, Scalloped Potatoes and Baloney

  • I don't know as one needs a recipe for these, but in my time here, the 2 dishes that turn up at EVERY celebratory function in my workplace are: "Goulash" (known in New England as American Chop Suey, and "Scalloped Potatoes" cooked to a mush in a crockpot. I haven't figured out how the signature flavor is arrived at with the potatoes. It's always the same though!
  • We in Lewis County have Croghan Baloney...very unique and the original is only made in one place. It's not baloney, either.
    Lynn Klein, Boonville