An Iowan Culinary Detour

Other Cuisines

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Iowan cuisine falls within the greater spectrum of Midwestern cuisine, offering simple and hearty dishes with roots on the cuisines of European immigrants and influenced by the foods of Native Americans and Mexicans. It's American food at its most elemental, greatly influenced by recipes included on the sides of food boxes and published in local newspapers, or created by restaurant owners trying to make a splash. Among its most famous dishes are breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches (Iowa is a pork producing state), scotcheroos, a take on rice krispies treats that add peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch, taco pizza, a pizza topped with beans, tortilla chips and other taco toppings and pretzel salad, which are actually strawberry/cream cheese bars on a pretzel crust.

Most of these dishes, however, are found on other midwestern states, sometimes by different names. What I decided to make is something that you only find in Iowa:

Steak de Burgo with Mushrooms

Steak de Burgo with Mushrooms

Steak de Burgo is a simple but delicious tenderloin dish that originated in Des Moines restaurants back in the late 30's and became very popular in the 50's. It's still served at DesMoines restaurants, and if I ever go to Iowa, it's what I'd order. The dish consists of tenderloin served with a sauce made of butter, garlic and Italian herbs at its most basic. Newer versions can include cream and mushrooms. I decided to make the latter because, well, mushrooms and I was quite pleased. The tenderloin was impossibly tender and the sauce was delicious.

I see no reason why you couldn't make this with other cuts that might benefit from a flavor alteration (i.e. top sirloin), but you'd miss the buttery feeling of tenderloin - though not the price.


Steak de Burgo with Mushrooms


  • 4 4-oz beef tenderloin steaks
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • chopped fresh parsley (optional)


Season steaks with salt and pepper to taste. In a small bowl, mix together the heavy cream and the vermouth and set aside.

Melt butter and olive oil together on a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the steaks and cook for 2 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook until brown, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, basil and oregano and cook, stirring, for another minute. Add the cream/vermouth mixture and cook until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the steaks and accumulated juices to the pan. Heat through. Sprinkle parsley on top (if using) and serve steaks topped with sauce and mushrooms.

Adapted from a recipe at Cuisine at Home

Cuisines from other states: Alaskan, American, Alabamian, Arizonan, Arkansas, Californian, Connecticuter, Delawarean, Floridian, Georgian, Hawaiian, Hoosier, Idahoan, Illinoisan, Iowan, Kansan, Kansas City, Kentuckian, American.

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