Chislic-The official state "nosh" of South Dakota and my personal, all-time favorite food in the world.
But what is it?
Don't feel bad if you don't know. Even when our state legislature made the nosh decree last year, a goodly portion of this state still didn't know what it was. It is one of those foods for those in the know, specifically those in the know from the southeastern part of South Dakota where the German-Russian immigrants who brought it here from Russia started a whole chislic sub-culture. For a little background on how it got from there to here, try this:
Put simply, chislic is "sheep on a stick".
Traditionally (and most deliciously) it is mutton or lamb cut into small cubes, skewered and cooked briefly over very high heat-- deep fried, hot grilled or broiled. High heat and fast is key--you want it browned on the outside and medium rare inside. Purists season only with garlic or celery salt and serve with a side of soda crackers. It is the easiest, fastest, simplest summer food imaginable and in my mind, the best thing ever made in a kitchen.
This weekend I have the singular honor of being an official judge at the second annual South Dakota Chislic Festival, representing my day job for SDPB but also representing my own hometown of Menno and culture from which chislic originated. I am so excited to see this event take off the way it has and can't wait to see what tomorrow brings (mostly in the form of great chislic!)
With sheep and goats so beneficial for multi-species grazing programs and a boon to agriculture in South Dakota, I can only hope that the gospel of chislic spreads far beyond South Dakota's borders and onto the dinner plates of people everywhere. Sheep on a stick--it's what's for dinner (and lunch and maybe a snack or two in between!)