Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wisconsin Delicacy

Most folks probably don't think of foods from Wisconsin as delicacies. We have a few:

Venison-Huntin' season is probably over by now. Venison is deer, when it's in the consumption phase. I've never had it at a restaurant in WI, because everyone makes it at home. I have seen it on menu's around the DC area, as a fine, extra special special. We mostly make it into sausage. Venison can be gamey...depends on what the deer have been eating all season. Corn from the farmers fields or bark and twigs.

Brats-That's not brat, as in "you rotten child." It's Braught, as in a long 'a' sounds. Awwww. Another sausage. Finely seasoned and super tasty. Always grilled. Always. You can parboil them first, so they are for sure cooked through. I like to grill mine to a super crisp, then give them a nice long bath in beer, butter and onions, until cooked through. Heaven on a bun! And yes, Johnsonvilled Brats are the way to go and they are available in some markets in the DC area.

And finally:

Cheese Curds! What is a cheese curd:

"A cheese curd is an orangish cheese by-product that feels like Silly Putty but tastes a lot better. It was invented accidentally by UW cheese scientists attempting to create an object of pure cholesterol that would still squeak. Rats who are fed this remarkable food develop an unusual capacity to polka and drink beer."

While not 100% true, it's pretty close. "But seriously, folks, cheese curds are fresh, young cheddar cheese in the natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks and aged. (Cheddar cheese is typically aged from 60 days to 4 years before being sold.) Unlike the aged variety, curds lose their desirable qualities if refrigerated or not eaten for a few days (the squeak disappears and they turn dry and salty). This means that even if you can find them in ordinary supermarkets, they are probably a few weeks old, and inedible or at least unremarkable."

You can find Wisconsin Cheese Curds at Eastern Market...if you are lucky. They might be white, they might be orange. That's just coloring added.

The squeak is a sign of super fresh yummy tasty cheese curds! It's the moist cheese rubbing on your teeth as you chew. If you have fresh cheese curds and they are not squeaking....1) they were made wrong or 2) go brush your teeth, drink a beer and try again.

I'm dwelling on the cheese curd because in the past two weeks, I've recieved about 5 pounds of them! I was given a bag that was purchased at Eastern Market...really good, but alas, not day old! Another package that was a gift from Terri in WI. Those I haven't opened yet, as they were sealed up really well. And I just got another two pounds from my mom. I opened to taste these as they were just twisty tied. Squeakin' like you wouldn't believe! Yum yum yum.

We Wisconsinites eat our cheese curds either as just straight up fresh tasty cheese morsels or we batter them (not with too much anger though) and then fry them. OMG! OMG! You East Coasters can take your Mozz sticks and shov.......well those are good as well, but nothing like a fresh Wisconsin Cheese Curd that's been beer battered and fried to golden brown and delicious!

We have some other tasty treats, from the fresh water fish variety and the kugel...the danish kugel...oy!

And that folks is all I can say about Wisconsin food today.

Check out this site for some of the stolen qoutes from above and a "recipe" for fried Cheese Curds.


Dancer in DC said...

Fried cheese curds = cholesterol heaven. I had them for the first time in Minneapolis a year ago, and it was killer good.

Stef said...

The first and only time I ever tried cheese curds was when my godfather moved to Wausau and then came to visit. He brought along some authentic Wisconsin cheese curds and even though it's been about 20 years I remember them as being delicious. I'd love to try some again. Reason number 437 for me to finally check out Eastern Market....

Brunette said...

My brother-in-law is from WI, and he and my sister introduced me to cheese curds after their first "coupled" visit there. I admit, at first I was horrified by the thought of a cheese curd, but I bravely tried one. Fortunately the curd I plucked out of the bag was a massive squeaker- I think the neighbors heard it! Needless to say, I've been hooked ever since. (Oh, and they're yummy too.)

Anonymous said...

As a Wisconsin-er by marriage, I have to say that the curds have won me over...curds and beef sticks, even better! I did try my first fried cheese curd on the Thanksgiving trip to visit the hubby's family and I wasn't a big fan. I think curds are best left to their natural state.

Mmmm, brats, curds, and beef sticks. I have to send my mother-in-law and email and ask her to stock up before our trip next week.


Terri in WI said...

I sooo wanted to send fried cheese curds, but how to do that via FedEx or USPS?? HA! I guess everyone who wants them will have to come visit me in WI! My grandmother taught me to eat them dipped in a little yellow mustard and I have prefered to eat them that way since.

ScottE. said...

I forgot to mention Beer! Granted it's not really a delicacy, just a daily beverage like soda, water and milk.

ScottE. said... haven't been to Eastern Market yet? Grrrl, we need to get you down there...not just for the food shopping, but the flea market and the other artists. Really fun.

Wanna go some weekend?

ScottE. said...

The fried cheese curd can come one of two ways.

1) What I feel to be the more authentic way is with a beer batter of flour and beer...maybe some salt/pepper or something, but that's about it...then fried.

2) This way is also very tasty if done right...with more a dry bread crumb what we're mostly familiar with Mozzarella sticks...there is a restaurant franchise in my home town that has cheese curds this way...they are killer! If I have to have them this way, I want them from Tom's Drive In!

Terri in WI said...

About the venison... Growing up in a family of deer hunters, I never understood that venison could be considered a delicacy outside of Wisconsin. I never really liked it. It does take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in, like if you're making tacos or barbeque. But alone, it does have a distinct flavor that can be very gamey, as Scott mentioned. I lost any appetite I might have had for venison when I got off the bus one November afternoon and my dad, such a funny, funny man, decided to put the buck's severed head at the end of the drive way to greet me!! Ewww!!! That year they decided to "process" the meat in our tiny kitchen and the smell was enough to stay with me the rest of my life! So, when someone mentions venison for dinner, I think of that afternoon and remember the smell, and the buck's head, and I'm done... can't eat it or look at it. The ONLY venison I can handle is when dad has the local meat shop make the jalapeno summer sausage... it's mixed with pork and lots of spices and jalapeno peppers. I only know it's venison 'cuz daddy told me it is!

Stef said...

I know, I know, it's a travesty. But I've never been shopping at Eastern Market. I've just gotta make myself get up and do it some morning, but all that metro-transferring doesn't sound fun on a weekend morning. I know I have to do it!

Mike Bowers said...

Hi everyone! For all you Wisconsin Cheese Curd lovers, "YES" Bowers Dairy at Eastern Market has Wisconsin cheese curds. We have plain, and flavored, including hot pepper, cajun and garlic/onion. Kind Regards, Bowers Fancy Dairy Products, Eastern Market

Dancer in DC said...

Yay! You heard it here first.

And if anyone has NOT been to the Bowers cheese counter, you must drop everything and GO NOW. My appreciation for cheese has been greatly expanded by these wonderful folks. Remind me to tell you sometime about the stout beer-infused cheese they gave me for Thanksgiving - so good!

In my opinion, every foodie needs a good cheese shop to buy from. Clearly Bowers is ours. (I also like to visit Cheesetique in Del Ray on occasion.)