Here in the US, we love our food and we are proud of our traditional recipes. Whether it is a dish that is served around the country or a regional specialty, we all enjoy turning our hand to something that has been handed down the generations. But how did we end up with many of these traditional dishes? And what are the tricks to get the best recipes to work?
There probably is hardly an American out there who hasn’t eaten a variation of the Hamburger at some point in their life. Burgers have been around for hundreds of years and came to the US with German immigrants in the 1800s when it became known as the Hamburg steak. It first appeared on menus in New York in 1873 while the first burger stand appeared in St Louis’ World Fair of 1904.
But how do you get the ‘perfect’ burger? There’s no rules as such with the hamburger because it has so many variations. But using a great quality beef is a start and additions such as grated onion and a little minced garlic add to that classic flavor.
Corned Beef Hash
A hash is a dish made from diced or chopped meat along with potatoes and spices as well as sometimes onions. It became popular in Britain and France in World War II when meat was hard to come by. It crossed to the US in the 1950s with Irish families moving to the country and became a nationwide tradition. As this lovely recipe from Something New For Dinner points out, the key to making a great Corned Beef Hash is to use quality corned beef that doesn’t have too much fat in it and to shred it while it is still warm, rather than hot.
The Meatloaf is another ancient dish, a form of which was mentioned in a Roman cookbook. However, the dish gained its modern style with the invention of the mechanical meat grinder that allowed different types of meat to be used in the dish. However, the traditional meatloaf has to use ground beef and should be 80% beef with only 20% fat. Adding in caramelized onions is another secret tip to bring the best flavor out of the meat before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
Irish Beef Stew
While the Corned Beef Hash is associated with the Irish, somewhat incorrectly, the Irish Beef Stew travelled to the States with the Irish immigrants and is popular wherever their ancestors are now found. Some recipes involve another Irish tradition, Guinness, while others don’t. whatever you add to the beef, remember not to prepare your veg until the meat is stewing so they don’t get soft while waiting.
Apple Pie is as near a national dessert as the USA has, a symbol of all that is good about the country as much as anything. No-one is completely sure where the recipe originated from, the US or in the UK, though early immigrants to the US found crab apple trees and used apple seeds brought from England to plant new orchards. When making pie, only use a minimal amount of thickener with the apple to avoid diluting the taste while only using the best, freshest apples for the filling.