52 Dinners - Week 38: A Love Letter to Nebraska

52 Dinners - Week 38: A Love Letter to Nebraska
Claire and I met in culinary school ten years ago, and right away we bonded over our Midwest upbringings.
She’s now the director of catering sales for a major Philadelphia restaurant group, and she knows a hell of a lot about food.
She’s passionate and intense and doesn’t sugar coat things, and I love that about her. It’s a particular type of honesty and assertiveness to which I respond really well.
And she may be my favorite person to go out to eat with.
You can’t talk to her for more than five minutes without being reminded that she is from Nebraska. In fact, I don’t think that I’ve ever met anyone who is more in love with and connected to where they grew up. So when Claire and her super cool architect friend Erin decided to come visit us for a couple days, I knew that I had to serve Nebraskan cuisine. Justin and Andrew also joined us.
I couldn’t find any Nebraska-specific cocktails, but everything I read said “Nebraskans drink a lot of whiskey”, so we started with boulevardiers while munching on runzas, which are sandwich pockets made by filling enriched yeast dough with a mixture of ground beef, onion, and cabbage.
They’re traditionally kind of big and oblong, but I made these small dinner-roll sized.
Evidently there’s even a chain of restaurants in Nebraska called Runza, and it’s basically all they sell. Runzas are also served as a hot lunch in the Nebraska public school system. There’s a whole Runza history of German settlers in Nebraska, but I don’t need to get into that.
Next was a hearty corn chowder made using grilled corn, with bacon and chives. 
All of our bellies were full by the time I served chicken fried Maplewind steak with sausage gravy and mashed potatoes. 
And to finish things off I served Tin Roof Sundaes, which were first created at Potter Sundry in Potter, Nebraska. I made vanilla ice cream with a fudge ripple and cacao nibs, topped it with caramel, salty Spanish peanuts, and Nomadic marshmallows.
The following day I got a text from Claire which read “Thank you for my love letter to Nebraska and true friendship dinner” and that made all the calories worth it.

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