Foodies First website recently ran a piece called “These Are the Absolute Best Dishes in Each State and Where to Find Them.”
Among the regional favorites are many that you would expect: pecan pie in Alabama, Pennsylvania’s Philly cheesesteak, Louisiana gumbo, Boston’s clam chowder, Maine’s lobster rolls, and Maryland’s crab cakes.
Some regional favorites require special equipment, such as a pizza oven to make Illinois’ deep-dish pizza or are the by-product of another dish, such as Kansas’ favorite burnt ends, which are pieces of brisket that are taken from the point end of the food during barbecue cooking. Others require ingredients native to or easily purchased in the area; Oregon’s marionberries (pies and jams), quahog clams in Rhode Island (stuffies) and Wisconsin’s fried cheese curds. Others are just disgusting, such as Utah’s fry sauce (a mixture of catsup and mayo) and Rocky Mountain oysters (fried bull testicles). Since so many South Floridians are expats, here are a few recipes that can be easily recreated by the home cook either longing for familiar dishes or looking to try a dish from another locale.
In Hawaii, loco moco is a huge favorite. It's not the sort of comfort food that you might not expect from somewhere so tropical, however, it's been around since the 1940s.
1½ lb. ground beef
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. butter
1 medium sweet onion
1 cup sliced mushrooms
4 cups hot cooked rice
1 cup beef stock
4 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
Mix the first six ingredients.
Form into four equal-sized patties.
Fry or grill until medium, set aside.
In a sauté pan, melt butter, and fry onions and mushrooms until tender, set aside.
In the same pan add a bit more butter if needed and fry four eggs sunny side up.
One each plate, place one burger patty on a mound of cooked rice.
Top with onion and mushroom mixture and a fried egg.
In the sauté pan, add the remaining ingredients, whisking to incorporate the corn starch.
Cook until thickened.
Pour the gravy created over the plates equally.
Gooey Butter Cake
This Missouri specialty was created by mistake. Someone was trying to make a coffeecake and added too much butter. They covered the result in powdered sugar and a favorite dessert was born.
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. granulated sugar
⅓ cup butter
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
¼ cup light-colored corn syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 5-ounce can evaporated milk
In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of flour and 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/3 cup butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to form a sandy texture.
Pat butter mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 9x9x2-inch baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat 1¼ cups granulated sugar and the ¾ cup butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined.
Beat in corn syrup and egg just until combined.
Alternately add 1 cup flour and evaporated milk to beaten sugar-butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined (batter will appear slightly curdled). Pour over crust in pan.
Spread batter evenly to edges of pan.
Bake in a 350° F oven about 35 minutes or until cake is nearly firm when gently shaken. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.
Makes 12 servings.
Sonoran Hot Dog
Blending an American classic with Southwest flavors created this Arizona favorite.
6 hot dogs
6 slices bacon
6 medium jalapeños
2 whole cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 white onion, diced
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. packed fresh cilantro leaves
6 bolillo-style buns or top-split hot dog buns
1 cup refried pinto beans, warmed
1 tomato, diced
Mayonnaise and mustard, for serving
Cotija cheese, chopped
Tightly wrap each hot dog with bacon.
In a large skillet over medium heat, cook wrapped hot dogs, jalapeños, garlic, and onion.
Turn hot dogs occasionally until bacon is crispy and cooked through and vegetables are lightly charred all over.
Transfer to a plate, tent hot dogs with foil.
Remove stems and seeds from jalapeños.
Transfer to food processor along with onion, charred garlic, lime juice, and cilantro.
Pulse until salsa forms.
Spread buns with beans.
Top with hot dogs, tomato, chopped onion, and jalapeño salsa.
Drizzle with mayonnaise and mustard.
Top with avocado and cotija cheese, if desired.
Serve with remaining jalapeño salsa alongside.