Maryland has crab cakes. Wisconsin has cheese. Boston baked beans, Buffalo wings and Philly cheesesteaks are synonymous with their hometowns. But does Colorado have a signature food?
Denver chef and food writer Michele Morris toured restaurants and inns across the state to find out. The result is her cookbook “Tasting Colorado,” which is filled with recipes from the state’s most celebrated chefs, including buffalo redeye stew from The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver and chili chocolate bourbon cake from The Fort in Morrison.
Morris shared some of her favorite recipes for you to try at home.
Cowboy Corn Cakes
Romantic RiverSong Inn, Estes Park
Owner Gary Mansfield
The lodge now known as Romantic RiverSong Inn was originally built as a summer retreat for a banking family from Kansas. Guests of the inn today are treated to these unusual pancakes for breakfast.
Makes 6 servings
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
3 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels
1 cup green chiles, chopped (see Note)
Beat the eggs and milk until blended; stir in butter. Combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and cayenne and slowly stir into the wet ingredients. Fold in corn and green chiles.
Using a ladle or an ice cream scoop, spoon the batter onto a greased griddle or skillet over medium heat. Cook on the first side until bubbles appear on top, and then flip and finish cooking on the second side. Serve with maple syrup.
Note: The heat of green chiles can vary greatly, as can individual tolerance for heat. If your chiles are medium or hot, or if you prefer a milder corn cake, omit the cayenne.
Lamb Slider with Mint and Tomato-Ginger Chutney
The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park
Executive Chef Richard Beichner, Food and Beverage Manager Mark Ortell
This recipe pays homage to one of the chef’s favorite late-night meals—a mini burger that beckons you late at night to satisfy the hunger in your belly before you hit the sack.
Makes 2 to 4 servings
8 ounces ground lamb
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
1 ounce fresh chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
8 mini burger buns
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 pound roma tomatoes (about 3 tomatoes), roughly chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
For the burgers:
Combine ground lamb, rosemary, mint, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix well. Shape into eight small burgers. Grill or pan sear to desired doneness and place each burger in a mini bun. Top with tomato-ginger chutney.
For the chutney:
Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan, such as stainless steel, and cook over low heat until all ingredients have broken down and formed a thick sauce of chutney, about 1 hour. Chill before serving. Chutney may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.