3 American Indian Recipes for Weeknight Cooking From Enrique Salmón (2024)

What Sherman is doing with this dish, explains Salmón, is “creating this almost pan-Indian way of cooking—all the ingredients are unique to North America, but in the past they would not all be used at the same time.”

In Sherman’s recipe, chuck roast of bison—also called buffalo—is braised in stock that's galvanized with a large pour of maple syrup. For the stock he recommends wild rice or corn stock, but vegetable broth works well. As for the syrup, Salmón says that while many people associate maple specifically with Vermont or Canada, there is a long history of Native peoples tapping into maple trees and making syrup all across the Northern Plains, around the Great Lakes, and out to the West Coast in Washington.

Maple syrup adds a touch of sweetness, of course. But, as Salmón points out, it also imparts a warm spiciness that tangles deliciously with the earthy tang of sumac, camphorous sage, and woodsy fresh cedar.

Sourcing cedar for this recipe will require some searching on your part since it isn’t readily available at the grocery store, and not every variety is strictly edible. You can easily purchase fresh cedar online: Western red cedar is a good option. Use the leftover sprigs to make a soothing medicinal tea or infuse cream (as in our guide to cooking with pine) for desserts.

Note: Many of the native ingredients mentioned throughout this article are also available by trade or purchase at community events, some of which are open to the public. “There is an annual powwow circuit and an incredible trade network that moves with it,” says Salmón. “If cedar doesn’t grow near you, you can get it that way—you can dry or freeze it, and then keep it for quite a long time.”

Sherman’s braise is rounded out with hominy, which Salmón calls “a great example of Native ingenuity.”

“When Europeans showed up, there were hundreds of varieties of corn being grown across North and South America. One unique white and pink variety gets a little puffier than other kinds and it has to be collected just after it’s dried on the stalk. Then it’s put through a process called nixtamalization, which releases important nutrients, like niacin and thiamine.”

The dried hominy, which needs to be soaked overnight before cooking, softens in the braising pot while the bison tenderizes, absorbing all of the dish’s wonderful flavors. If you’re in a hurry, Salmón recommends canned hominy as a ready option.

Salmón knows it’s not strictly a weeknight dish, but instead says it’s the kind of thing you’d cook on Sunday night for reheating later in the week—or for feeding a gathering of extended family. He says in his house, someone else would bring the corn cakes and that his aunts would probably be in the kitchen, arguing about how to make the best fry bread. What he means is: You’ll want something to help soak up all the extra sauce, which is resinous, sweet, and richly savory. And if there is any leftover meat the next day, Salmón says it makes great tacos.

3 American Indian Recipes for Weeknight Cooking From Enrique Salmón (4)

Ȟaŋté úŋ Pté Lolóbyapi (Cedar-Braised Bison)

Get This Recipe

Author's note

I wrote this story from an apartment that sits high above the land once tended by the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians. I grew up in Tennessee, on Chickasaw Homeland. Both of these tribes thrive today across the country, with communities centered half a continent away from their ancestral territories. I acknowledge that my own ancestors played a role in their removal from these places and encourage every person reading this to do some research into the land you currently occupy; here is a good place to start. The histories of Indigenous people in North America are vast and varied, and are too often ignored, glossed over, or rewritten by mainstream education.

Becoming familiar with the ingredients native to your location is another worthwhile effort. Once you’ve begun to learn about the local edible things growing all around you, look into the ways the original inhabitants of that land, and current American Indian population, used (and continue to use) them. Doing so, and procuring those ingredients in a way that’s respectful to the land, can open your kitchen to a world of flavors available, quite literally, right at your feet.

3 American Indian Recipes for Weeknight Cooking From Enrique Salmón (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Delena Feil

Last Updated:

Views: 6314

Rating: 4.4 / 5 (65 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Delena Feil

Birthday: 1998-08-29

Address: 747 Lubowitz Run, Sidmouth, HI 90646-5543

Phone: +99513241752844

Job: Design Supervisor

Hobby: Digital arts, Lacemaking, Air sports, Running, Scouting, Shooting, Puzzles

Introduction: My name is Delena Feil, I am a clean, splendid, calm, fancy, jolly, bright, faithful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.