10 Most Popular American Dishes
Say “American food” and most people think of hamburgers and apple pie! American cuisine reflects the country’s history from the arrival of the settlers, when many of the old recipes were adapted and altered from European methods. During the 19th century, American cuisine really developed and became very seasonal and regional while still reflecting the country’s cosmopolitan society. In the 1970s its popularity increased with the arrival of TV cooking programs and celebrity chefs who promoted the classic American dishes. Recipes that emerged during this time became known as “New American Cuisine” as the dishes are made using traditional American methods but were a fusion of flavors from all over the world.
Popular American Dishes : Hamburger / Beef Burger / Burger
This popular American take-away food can be found the world over and millions are eaten every day – especially from the large fast food / take-out chains. Interestingly, the patty of ground/minced meat (mainly beef) used in making a hamburger actually has its origins in Germany where it was known as “Hamburg steak.” The idea was brought to the United States by settlers and the rest, as they say, is history! Hamburgers can be fried, grilled, or cooked over charcoal, and they are then served in a split round soft burger bun with a salad relish, fried onions, pickles, and the all-important tomato ketchup! A cheeseburger has an added layer of a slice of melted cheese on top.
Popular American Dishes : Apple Pie
Apple pie was brought to the United States in the 17/18th century by German, Dutch, and British settlers and is now one of the favorite American dishes. Apple pie is made in a deep circular ovenproof dish which is lined with pastry and cooked and then filled with layers of sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice. The pie is either covered with a second circle of pastry which is decorated around the edges, or, covered with interwoven strips of pastry before being baked in the oven until the pastry is golden brown (about 45 minutes).
Popular American Dishes : San Francisco Sourdough Bread
The history of this famous bread can be traced back to the days of the Gold Rush when Basque migrants were working down in the mine and making bread for their meals with the local yeast. The bread looked good, but had a distinctly sour taste. However, after a while, the men agreed they actually liked it! It was thought that the yeast might have been affected by the foggy climate, but years later, scientists discovered a particular bacteria in the yeast which they named L. sanfranciscensis. Today, sourdough bread is as popular as ever, and there are a number of traditional bakers producing it in the city of San Francisco (and elsewhere), often with the top of the loaf decorated with chopped onion. There are many new artisan bakeries also making a variety of new types of sourdough bread based on the original recipe, but with innovative twists.
Popular American Dishes : Banana Split
This popular ice cream sundae was created in Latrobe, Pennsylvania in 1904 and is a firm favorite in the States and abroad with many variations! Traditionally, a long banana is cut in half lengthways and placed in a long dish known as “a boat.” Three large spoonfuls of ice cream are placed on top of the bananas – usually one spoonful each of chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream. Thick plain chocolate sauce is spooned over the ice cream, and it is then decorated with whipped cream and chopped nuts.
Popular American Dishes: Key Lime Pie
This popular dessert is made from the small fruit known as “key limes” that grow in the Florida Keys area. Key limes are different from other limes as they are much smaller and have prickles – plus the juice is lemon in color rather than lime green. The tart juice from the fruit is mixed with condensed milk and egg yolks and the mixture is baked in a pastry flan crust or a crust made from crushed biscuits (graham crackers/digestives) mixed with butter. Before the pie is popped in the oven, it is topped with a thick meringue mixture made from the egg yolks which not only tastes good, but also balances the tartness of the lime juice. Since 2013, there has been a Key Lime Festival held in Key West on the 4th of July – American Independence Day.
Popular American Dishes : Clam Chowder
Delicious clam chowder has been made in New England since the 18th century by French settlers in the area, as clams were relatively easy to gather. It is a creamy white soup made with onions, chopped celery, chopped bacon, and potatoes, thickened with cream – as well as, of course, clams. The dish is often served as a starter or eaten as a main dish accompanied by crusty bread or clam crackers. There is a red version of this popular dish made in Manhattan, the red color coming from the tomatoes used in this version of the recipe.
Popular American Dishes : Pumpkin Pie
The traditional menu for the American Thanksgiving dinner in late November is roast turkey and vegetables followed by a delicious pumpkin pie. Pumpkins have always been regarded as a symbol of a successful harvest and have been grown in the States for centuries. At first pumpkins were used to make soup, but by the 16th century the first sweet recipes were appearing. The first American recipes for pumpkin pie appeared in Britain as early as the 18th century. Pumpkin pie is a thick pumpkin custard flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, that is baked in a pastry crust until the custard has set. Every family has its own version of the recipe, and many cooks will tell you that the flesh used from smaller pumpkins tastes the best! Having said that, pumpkin pie tastes equally good served hot or cold, with thickly whipped cream on top.
Popular American Dishes : Chicken Maryland
This particular fried chicken dish that hails from the state of Maryland is served with a cream sauce and traditionally accompanied by mashed potatoes and sweet corn. The chicken is fried in a heavy cast iron pot until it is crisp and brown on the outside, and then the pan is covered so that the meat is thoroughly cooked by steaming. At the end of the cooking time, the gravy is made using the juices in the pan to which cream is added.
Popular American Dishes : Brownies
These popular chocolate cakes have devotees the world over, but if you want to generate some lively discussion, ask the question: “What is a perfect brownie like?” Some people will answer straight away that brownies should be rich but crumbly and cake like, whilst others will describe a dense gooey cake that is almost fudge-like. There is no one “perfect” brownie as every family has their own recipe! Brownies are always a flat dark chocolate tray bake. The first brownies were made by the chef at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago in 1893 and were chocolate and walnut cake squares with an apricot glaze. The hotel still serves the same recipe to this day! The name “brownie” was given to the cake just years later, and although they are like a dense plain chocolate sponge, they should always have a slightly fudgy texture.
Popular American Dishes: Blueberry Wojapi
This delicious thick fruit sauce is an American Indian recipe made for generations using wild berries such as chokecherries or blueberries that grow on the American plains. It is an easy recipe to make as five cups of washed blueberries are mashed and put into a pan with some honey and a little water and simmered gently until the fruit is cooked (about one hour). The fruit is then strained, thickened with a little cornstarch (corn flour), and sweetened with wild honey to taste.