Recipes bring out flavor of Native American food

Native Americans retain a rich culture of traditional foods and the way they are prepared. These foods vary according to the environment where each tribe is located.

Native Americans were and continue to be hunters and gatherers. Many of their recipes include ways to prepare venison, fish, rabbits, fowl, wild rice, squash, corn, berries and mushrooms.

I didn’t have space in my last column to include some of the traditional Native American recipes. Thanks to those who gave recipes to me. I will include more of them in upcoming articles.

Chantel Alveshire and Mary (Tweet) Smith often organize fundraising luncheons to benefit others who have unexpected medical bills, lost their home or belongings due to a fire, or other emergency situations. Smith is well known for her tasty donations. Here is her recipe for cream of chicken and wild rice soup:

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup wild rice

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion diced

3 carrots, peeled and diced

3 stalks celery, diced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

2 bay leaves

1-pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

¼ cup unsalted butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Place chicken into a kettle Stir in chicken stock, wild rice, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook at low heat 6-8 hours. Add mushrooms during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. Remove chicken from the kettle and shred, using two forks. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and half and half, cook whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir chicken and milk mixture into the slow cooker. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley if desired.

If you have never tried cream of chicken and wild rice soup, it is on the menu at the Forest Island Restaurant at the Menominee Casino Resort. They also serve wild rice meatloaf.

Native American fry bread recipes have been passed down through generations; some families share their family recipes while others don’t choose to. There are many variations of fry bread, depending upon the region and the tribe. Some versions are made with yeast and cornmeal, and some are made with the addition of lard, shortening or another fat. Here are two variations of fry bread recipes:

This recipe makes four small loaves of fry bread:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup milk

Vegetable oil (or shortening for deep frying, enough to reach 1-inch depth)

In a deep cast iron skillet or heavy saucepan heat about 1 inch of oil to 350 F. If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, dip the handle end of a wooden spoon in the oil. The oil should bubble around it fairly steadily when it is ready. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; mix well to blend. Add the milk and stir until the dough holds together. Knead 3 or 4 times on a floured surface. Divide the dough into four pieces and shape each into a ball. Roll each ball of dough into a circle with a lightly floured rolling pin. Make a deep depression in the center of each round of dough. Place one or two into the hot oil and fry for about 1 or 2 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Remove the fried dough and drain on paper towel. The fry bread is great with chili. It can also be used to make fry bread tacos or served with honey, maple syrup or jams or jellies.

Here is a traditional fry bread recipe:

1 package dry yeast

3 cups warm water

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 cups flour

2 tablespoon oil

½ cup cornmeal

Dissolve yeast in warm water, then add salt and sugar. Let stand for 5 minutes covered with a towel. Add flour and oil to liquid mixture. Mix and put on floured bread board and knead until mixture is smooth. Put dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1½ hours. Remove from bowl and knead in the cornmeal. Make dough into two balls rolling each into 12-inch circles ½ inch thick. Cut in 2-inch squares and drop in hot cooking oil in cast iron skillet. Briefly fry five to six pieces at a time. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy.

Sending words of comfort and peace to the family and friends of Robert (Butch) Summers.

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.