Gunflint Walleye

Summer at the lake is as Minnesotan as one can be. And, fishing for walleye, well, that’s a true Minnesota experience. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, walleye is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota.

On of the best places to fish walleye is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in the most northern part of the state.

Walleye lovers are always looking for a great recipe to showcase the thick white fillets, whether it is baked, broiled, fried or grilled.

I’ve prepared the Gunflint Walleye in the past and it’s a special treat for those who prefer not to fry their fish. The recipe comes from the Gunflint Lodge on the Gunflint Trail north of Grand Marais in northern Minnesota. The lodge has been sold since I acquired this recipe, so I’m not sure if it’s still served in their restaurant anymore. Anyways, this tasty dish lives on!

Gunflint Walleye

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 -3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 -2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless walleyed pike fillet or 2 1/2 lbs other lean white-fleshed fish fillets
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup grated romano cheese
  • 1 cup fine dry breadcrumb
  • green onion (optional)

Spray a 15X10X1 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In small saucepan, melt butter and stir in garlic and lemon juice. Rinse fillets. Cut into 6 servings, if necessary.

Sprinkle fish with Romano cheese and cover with bread crumbs. 

Drizzle the fish with any remaining garlic-lemon butter. (Fish may be prepared to this point, covered and refrigerated up to 1 hour).

Bake in 450 oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until flakes easily. 

Transfer fillets to warm serving platter and enjoy!

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Homemade Dilly Bars

Homemade Dilly Bars

Who knew the Red River Valley of Minnesota was known for inventing Dilly Bar in 1955?! Specifically at Dairy Queen in Moorhead, MN.

The Dilly Bar, a beloved chocolate-dipped ice cream puck-on-a-stick. The candy coating dips comes in cherry and butterscotch flavors too. 

To make your own dilly bars, you’ll simply need vanilla ice cream, a pie pan, baking chips and a few tongue depressors.

Spoon ice cream into mini pie pans and let harden. Wait 1 hour or until ice cream is firm & hard, then pop out of tins. Insert tongue depressor into the side of the ice cream. Place discs of ice on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for another hour.

The amount of baking chips you need depends on size & quantity you are making. Separate chips into bowls. Melt chips, by putting them in a microwave for 30 seconds, stir, repeat until smooth.

Spread a thin layer of melted chips on parachment paper and put the ice cream bar on top. Work fast and simply pour the melted chips on the bar until it’s covered and rush frantically place the bars back into the freezer.  If you want to add the classic dilly bar swirl, now’s the time to do it- just take a spoonful of the melted chips and pour into a swirl shape.

Enjoy this classic Minnesotan ice cream treat!

Iron Range Porketta

Iron Range Porketta

Now you ask, what is Porketta? Porketta is a traditional seasoned meat from the Iron Range in Minnesota. It’s savory, fatty, and a moist boneless pork roast of Italian culinary tradition. The body of the pig is gutted, deboned, arranged carefully with layers of stuffing, meat, fat, and skin, then rolled, spitted, and roasted, traditionally over wood. Porketta is usually heavily salted in addition to being stuffed with garlic, rosemary, fennel, or other herbs. Evidently, if Porketta is done correctly the outside skin is crunchy and flavorful, and the inside melts in your mouth, providing an outer body experience as the garlic, rosemary, sage, and fennel explode in your mouth.  

Things I’ve learned so far when preparing and cooking a proper Porketta…

Use a Pork Shoulder Roast.

Have the Roast taken off the bone and cut so it lays flat.

There are some great Porketta recipes in various cookbooks; but my favorite is…

  • 3-4 lb. Pork Butt/Shoulder
  • ½ T. Salt
  • 2 T. Smoked Paprika
  • 2 T. Onion Powder
  • 2 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 T. Sugar
  • 12 Peeled Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • ⅓ cup Fresh Fennel greens, chopped
  • 2 T. Fresh Fennel Bulb,chopped 

Butterfly Pork Roast by making a vertical slice and then slicing on the left and the right bottom sides to open up roast. (If your not comfortable with butterflying ask your butcher to do it for you.) In a bowl combine salt, paprika, onion powder, Italian seasoning and sugar. Rub on all sides of the pork. Stuff pork with chopped garlic, fennel greens and fennel bulb. Then tuck up roast and tie with kitchen twine.

If you can get a Roast with the skin on do so. If not, usually you can buy the skin separately. Once the Roast is rolled you can use toothpicks to adhere the skin to the Roast or you can tie it on with butchers twine.

Sear the Roast in the oven at 450° for thirty minutes.

Place the Roast on a ceramic grill such as a Big Green Egg or in a smoker and cook it at about 300° F for several hours until a meat thermometer reads 180° when inserted into the thickest point of the roast.

Let the Roast rest for 30 minutes, slice.

Making a really good Porketta takes a bit of time and effort; however, you will be richly rewarded. So, the next time you have a long rainy weekend and you are looking for something worthwhile, fun and delightfully delicious to do, this might just be it.

Enjoy! 

NOTE: If you’re ever in Iron Range near Nashwauk, Minnesota pick up a delicious pre-seasoned Porketta roast at Fred’s grocery store. It’s delicious!