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Native Cooking Column by Dale Carson

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Double-speak, dual worlds, cooking for two perspectives and trying to be good at it all is a daunting task. From time to time I feel it is important for me to say why I write a lot of recipes that contain butter, dairy, and other ingredients that are not originally traditional. Some that may even be forbidden by your medical condition or even by your desire to eat only healthy food. You are in charge of you. My sole requirement for a recipe is that it tastes good. Our lives as a diversified people referred to as Native Americans is so varied in this 21st century. There are people who still live as they did in the 19th century. There are people who are ready for the next century now. Some still live on reservations, some in cities, and everything in between.

I am very excited to see many new cookbooks and restaurants springing up all over Indian country. Tribes and bands are writing down recipes and cooking methods that are exclusively their own. Beyond this, others are addressing health issues through nutritional cooking. This is so wonderful to see. For years, I tried to get young women interested in carrying on my own traditions of outdoor cooking. Not too many takers out there. I had a lot of equipment to traipse around and set up and take down. My portable Native kitchen contains turtle shell platters, gourd and birchbark containers, wood implements, shells, and both pre-and post contact items like iron pots, etc. Heavy work, lots of preparation plus smoke in the eyes made it educational, indeed. Then I went home to make dinner for six, usually. Getting some chilly nights where we live, so these next two recipes help take the chill off.

White Bean Chili

2 cups of cooked chicken, diced

2 cups of white Great Northern beans, soaked overnight, drained

1 14-oz. can creamed corn

2 small cans of chopped green jalapenos

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

6 cups chicken broth, saved from cooking chicken

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground chili powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon oregano or marjoram

Salt & black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Use a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Saut? the onion, bell pepper and garlic until translucent. Add the broth, beans, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour, until beans are tender. Now add the jalapenos, chicken and corn. Simmer a little longer, about 10 minutes.

Optional - garnish with grated jack or cheddar cheese and fresh chopped cilantro leaves.

Baked Pork Dinner

6 cooked pork chops

4 cups cooked rice

1 cup chopped onion

6 slices of fresh tomatoes

6 slices green bell pepper

1 tablespoon ground sage

1 tablespoon paprika

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups of water or chicken broth

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Place the pork chops flat on a baking dish big enough to hold then all on the bottom. Cover with the rice, sprinkle onion across top, then a layer of tomato and bell pepper. Sprinkle this with salt, pepper, sage, paprika and flour. Gently pour the hot water OR broth over this and bake tightly covered for 2 hours at 325 degrees.

Pretty Mashed Spuds

6 large Yukon Gold potatoes, washed, not peeled

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

Salt & pepper to taste

Cut up the Yukon Gold potatoes into 2-inch chunks, do the same with the sweet potatoes and cook both together in the same pot until they are tender, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Add the milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash. A delightful taste, plus a fine source of potassium.

Wild Rice and Shellfish Bake

Nutty-tasting wild rice is a perfect combination for sweet shellfish like scallops and shrimp.

1-1/2 cups wild rice

2-1/2 cups water or chicken broth

3 cups of fresh sliced mushrooms, wild or domestic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cups of chopped onions

1/4 cup flour

3 cups of milk

1/2 pound scallops or shrimp (or both)

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon fresh minced sage

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pinch of fresh grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy pot, on the stove, simmer the wild rice for about 30-40 minutes, adding water or broth as needed, until the grains are tender and partially split. Saut? the mushrooms in a large fry pan until soft, lower heat and stir in the flour gently. Slowly stir in the milk, mash out any lumps before adding more milk. Cook until thickened and stir in remaining ingredients as well as the wild rice. Spoon into a greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Notes & Tips

*You can freeze cooked rice. To reheat it, steam it in a covered colander over lightly boiling water, fluff occasionally with a fork.

*If you have a huge amount of gravy to make, do it in a crock pot and it will stay warm as you need it.

*The best way to forget all your troubles is to wear tight shoes. Don't try this with moccasins, they will just stretch out.

*What do you get from a pampered cow? Spoiled milk.