Today is National North Dakota Day. North Dakota was the 39th state to join the Union, gaining statehood on November 2, 1889. That same day South Dakota was admitted. November 1889 was a busy month for America’s expansion. Six days after the Dakota territories achieved statehood, Montana became a state. Three days later, way up in the Pacific Northwest, Washington State was admitted.
Several thousand years ago, what would eventually become North Dakota was first explored and settled by Native Americans. The Europeans didn’t arrive until the 18th century. Railroads became the engine of settlement throughout the state. Its economy early on was heavily based on agricultural farming and ranching. In more recent times, North Dakota’s farming industry has declined along with the state’s population decline in the formerly heavy farming communities. Yet for some, the beauty of the badlands, the ranches and history are still rich and appealing.
When North Dakota first beckoned immigrant settlers, the state put out newspaper accounts and published pamphlets that claimed the lands of North Dakota were a garden, held out a promise of home ownership through hard work, and painted an image of a productive life among good, just, hardworking people. This drew Germans, Scandinavians and German-Russians as well as East Coast dwellers seeking a better life than that of the cities. The largest of this group were Germans living in Russia. Between 1900 and 1950, 100,000 immigrated to the Dakotas, Kansas and Nebraska, and was dubbed the nickname the German-Russian Triangle. (Corridor might have been a better name since those states do not form a triangle, but whatever). When you look at the foods that are popular in North Dakota today, much reflects their German-Russian heritage. Knoephia is a creamy soup with German-Russian roots, Krumkake, a Norwegian waffle cookie found throughout the state, and Kuchen, both a dessert and the German word for cake are great examples North Dakota cuisine.
So too are Fleischkuechle, meaning “little meat pie” that is deep fried. Hubby is of German-Russian decent. German on his mother’s side, Russian on his father’s side. Imagine how thrilled I was to discover a way to embrace his roots in such a delicious way.
6 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Salt
2 cups Milk
Warm oven to 275 degrees. Place a wire baking rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and place in the oven to warm.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add eggs and milk, stir with a spoon until well blended. Form the dough into 2 inch balls, cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Roll dough balls out into circles 1/4-inch thick on a floured surface. Set aside.
1/4 Yellow Onion
1/2 lb lean Ground Beef
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
Peel and finely mince the onion, set aside.
Place ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Top with minced onion. Season meat with salt and pepper. Mix together until well-blended.
Form the beef into golf ball sized balls. Place one meatball onto each dough circle, just off-center. Fold the circles in half to enclose meat filling the dough. Seal the edges by pressing dough with your fingers.
1 quart Vegetable Oil
Heat the oil to 365 degrees in a deep fryer or large deep skillet.
Fry the Fleischkuechle until golden brown, turning once, about 7 minutes per side. Place fried Fleischkuechle on paper towels to drain, then transfer the wire rack and hold in the warm oven until ready to serve.
Buttery Whipped Potatoes
3 lbs Russet Potatoes
1 cup Milk
6 tablespoons utter
Kosher Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Peel and cut potatoes. Rinse potatoes in a colander under cold water until water runs clear, about 1 minute; drain well.
Place in a large pot with enough water to cover potatoes by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and slow-boil until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat milk, butter, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Carefully pour contents of Dutch-oven into colander, drain potatoes well, then return potatoes to pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until potatoes are thoroughly dried, about 1 minute.
Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip half of the potatoes into small pieces on low-speed, about 2 minutes Add half of the milk mixture in a steady stream until incorporated. Increase speed to high and whip until potatoes are light and fluffy and no lumps remain, about 5 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to a large, warm serving bowl and cover to keep warm.
Repeat whipping process with remaining potatoes and milk mixture. Incorporated second batch of potatoes with first in the serving bowl. Keep warm until ready serve.
Creamy Beef Gravy
3 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Flour
2 cups Beef Stock
1 cup Milk
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Melt butter in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Sprinkle with flour, continue to cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is a creamy-coffee color, about 6 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the beef stock, increase heat and bring to a boil.
Add milk, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a smooth gravy consistency is achieved.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer gravy to a bowl with a ladle or gravy boat for serving.
To serve “diner style”, cut Fleischkuechle in half, plate on individual dinner plates. Scoop potatoes into rounded mounds on the same plate. Pour gravy over the mashed potatoes, serve and enjoy. Buttery corn or steamed green beans would be a nice added touch.