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Tomato Carpaccio

Heartland Fare

Many Cultures Meet on Midwestern Tables

By Amy Thielen

Amy Thielen is the author of The New Midwestern Table (Clarkson Potter, 2013), the host of Food Network’s Heartland Table, and a James Beard award-winning food writer. A former New York City line cook, she moved back home to northern Minnesota in 2008 with her husband and their son. She can be found at AmyThielen.com.

The Midwest is home to a great tradition of American country cooking—food that’s rustic, gutsy and simple.

From meals sampled at friends’ and relatives’ tables across the region, it’s plain that generosity coexists with thrift, culminating in spreads laden with a profusion of unfancy, one-stroke dishes. The composition of a traditional plate generally goes like this: meat, starch, two vegetables and bread, followed by dessert.

By and large, we’re seasonal cooks—not just because it’s currently fashionable, but because in-season ingredients are less expensive, taste better and, in our staunchly four-season climate, are truly fleeting: When we come across wild berries, ducks, asparagus, pecans or cherished morel mushrooms, we snap them up. A lot of the best Midwestern food involves a very American intimacy with the wilderness, some hunting and gathering, a principle that counts even if … Read More

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Roasted Chestnuts

Adapted from Bon Appetit Photo by Bradley W. Bergey

Serves 3–4

1 pound fresh unshelled chestnuts

2–3 sprigs rosemary

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon (or more) kosher salt

1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425. Score the chestnuts with an X on the rounded side of the chestnut. Heat a pan of water to boiling and soak the chestnuts for 1–2 minutes. This will help them steam as they are roasting.

Drain the chestnuts and set aside the pan. Lay out a piece of foil on the counter. Place the chestnuts, rosemary, butter, salt and nutmeg on the foil. Use your hands to toss the ingredients together. Gather up the sides of the foil and place in the empty pan, leaving the chestnuts in a single layer.

Put the pan in the oven and roast the chestnuts for 35–40 minutes, until the edges of the shells are beginning to turn up.

Place in a bowl and pour all butter and spices over the top. Check the seasonings and add more salt if desired. Serve hot.

 

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IN SEASON: SPRING

In Season

March-April-May

Vegetables: Arugula, Asparagus, Maple Syrup, Chicory, Dandelion Greens, Garlic Scapes, Edible Flowers, Fiddlehead Ferns, Kale, Lettuce, Nettles, Pak Choi, Radishes, Ramps (Wild Leeks), Sorrel, Spinach, Spring Onions.

Fruit: Rhubarb, Strawberries (late May)

Herbs: Chives, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme

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