Today is National South Dakota Day. The territory that would one day be admitted into the Union was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The following year, Lewis and Clark established the first permanent American settlement at Fort Pierre.
Both North Dakota and South Dakota were admitted on November 2, 1889. In an effort to avoid arguments over which state was admitted first, President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the bills, then signed one at random. The official order was never recorded, although North Dakota is traditionally listed as the 39th State, with South Dakota as the 40th.
In 1868 the Great Sioux Reservation was established; guaranteeing Lakota Nations all rights to their sacred Black Hills. Six years later, General George Armstrong Custer led a military expedition into those very same hills to confirm the existence of gold. It wasn’t long before thousands of miners flooded into the area, triggering yet another Indian War. Some believe the Battle of Greasy Grass (Little Big Horn) was in part an act of revenge by the Lakotas against Custer for his involvement degradation of the Black Hills.
The original design for Mount Rushmore was to sculpt Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt from head to waist. This massive undertaking began in 1927. Before the work could be completed, Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor, died in 1941. He had completed only the 60-foot tall heads of the Presidents. Shortly after his death, Congress cut off all funding to the Rushmore project, redirecting monies to support our efforts in World War II.
Today, a large part of South Dakota’s economy is fueled by tourism, which might explain why South Dakota did not suffer the same lockdowns and restrictions imposed in other states. Perhaps it was the state motto Under God, the People Rule, that guided Governor Kristi Noem when it came to the freedoms of the citizens of South Dakota.
While tourism is big, agriculture in South Dakota ranks top, generating over one-third of the states economy. Although its main crops are corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, South Dakota leads the nation in the production of Bison meat.
I’m really not one to promote a particular product, believing to each their own. I do use Best Foods Mayonnaise and won’t use anything else. It’s a personal thing. That said, before we get into the recipes with true South Dakota Flavor, do a little homework and pick a supplier you can believe in. Wild Idea Buffalo Company out of South Dakota is a great place to start. They have partnered with other like-minded ranchers, including Native Americans to create over 150,000 acres of grasslands that are being transformed into the sustainable ecosystem it once was. This approach to ranching not only impacts the land, but the true flavor of the Bison.
The Flavors of South Dakota
Bison Beef Chili
Indian Fry Bread
Bison Beef Chili
5 lb Bison Roast
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Red Onion
2 Jalapeno Peppers
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 tablespoons Course Black Pepper
3 tablespoons Cumin Powder
2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
4 tablespoons ground Pasilla
3 teaspoons ground Cayenne Pepper
8 oz Beer
16 oz Beef Stock
Habanero Pepper Sauce to taste
Cilantro for garnish
Cut roast into 1/2-inch chunks. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic, set aside. Cut onion in half from root to tip. Reserve half of the onion for later. Mince remaining half, set aside.
Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Roast whole jalapeno pepper in the skillet until blistered, turning as needed. Remove pepper from skillet, stem and cut into small pieces, seeds optional.
In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. When almost smoking, add cubed meat, onions and garlic. Lower heat to medium, brown mixture, stirring frequently.
Season seared meat mixture with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, and Pasilla. Pour beef and beef stock into the pot. Add Habanero Pepper Sauce, just a few drops to start. Stir in roasted Jalapenos. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for about 90 minutes to 2 hours for chili to thicken, the flavors to develop and the meat become fall-apart tender. If the chili thickens too quickly before the meat is falling apart tender, add more stock as needed.
Chop cilantro for garnish. If desired, dice more red onion to serve with the chili. Ladle into bowls, serve with fry bread if desired.
Indian Fry Bread
2 1/2 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Vegetable Shortening
1 cup Milk, warmed
Mix dry ingredients together. Cut in shortening; then add milk. Knead for 5 minutes on floured board. Shape dough into a long cylinder; brush with oil, cover with plastic and let rest for 20 minutes.
When ready, fry up the bread. Cut dough into 8 equal parts. Work with 1 part at a time, keep remaining dough covered.
Roll a piece of dough into a ball. Flatten the dough by hand, with a rolling-pin or tortilla press to create about a 4? to 6? tortilla. Don’t worry if your fry bread isn’t perfectly round. Mine rarely are – some are oblong, some a bit more square. It really doesn’t matter.
Fry bread in hot oil until golden brown, swirling as it cooks to prevent burning. Use the end of a wooden spoon to swirl bread as it cooks, flip and continue to brown until done. Place on a paper towel, blot off excess grease and set aside in a warm oven. Repeat until all the bread has been fried.