Opponent: Minnesota Wild

Location: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul Minnesota

Tonight the Predators take on the Minnesota Wild. They began play in the NHL in 2000 and are the only of the Twin Cities major sports teams to play in St. Paul, the rest being in Minneapolis. Their most successful seasons were 2002-03 when they made a Stanley Cup appearance (lost to New Jersey) and 2007-08 when they won their division championship. The original Minnesota team was the Minnesota North Stars, who moved to Dallas in 1993 to become the Stars.

The Wild’s mascot is Nordy, an animal of somewhat undetermined species – closest to a hybrid fox and bear. Nordy wears the number 18,001, as he is the extra member of the Team of 18,000, the name given to the fanbase in reference to the 18,000 fans in the stands during a sold out home game. Once each year the Wild host Hockey Day In Minnesota which features a back-to-back lineup of two high school boys hockey games, a Minnesota Gophers college hockey game, and a Minnesota Wild game at an outdoor venue.

Although St. Paul and Minneapolis are the Twin Cities, there definitely some distinctions between the two. Minneapolis is more of the modern, hip half of the area, whereas St. Paul has an older, more European feel to it. Due to their proximity, however, I will be sharing some examples from both cities throughout the post.

For tonight’s meal, I chose the Ju(i)cy Lucy burger. There are two rival bars on the same street in Minneapolis that lay claim to this burger: Matt’s Bar, who spells it “Jucy Lucy” and the 5-8 Club, who spells it “Juicy Lucy.” The 5-8 Club has the slogan “If it’s Spelled Right, It’s Done Right” while Matt’s bar has the slogan “If it’s Spelled Right, You’re Eating a Shameless Rip-Off.” The Juicy Lucy (heretofore spelled that way for ease of typing) is a burger patty that is formed with cheese in the middle, so the cheese melts inside of the beef while the burger is cooking. They are typically cooked in a cast iron skillet with butter or some other form of fat to sear the outside to trap the cheese inside while giving it a firmer exterior and a juicy interior.

Several other restaurants in the area have versions of the Juicy Lucy. The Groveland Tap in St. Paul has the Cajun Lucy and 34 beers on tap. Casper’s and Runyon’s Nook in St. Paul is known for having the largest volume of cheese in the middle of their burgers, which they refer to as Juicy Nookies. There is a Blue Door Pub in both cities; their take is the Juicy Blucy, and they have a breakfast version with bacon and eggs on it. There’s even a website that reports when the Juicy Lucy is in the news or when one is added to menus at restaurants and then rates their authenticity.

The official fish of the state of Minnesota is the Walleye (and is my personal favorite from the Great Lakes). The majority vote goes to The Tavern on Grand for having the best walleye in St. Paul. Forespaughs is in a beautiful building and in addition to their walleye is known for their Beef Wellington. Bennett’s Chop and Rail House is located on an old rail line in St. Paul, and is a casual steakhouse that is also known for their fried walleye strips appetizers (and signature Bloody Marys!). Salut Bar Americain in St. Paul is a French-American fusion themed restaurant with some of the best walleye in town, as well unique menu items like buffalo frog legs.

A famous Minnesota dish is the “tater tot hot dish,” in which “hot dish” is their word for “casserole.” In this instance, the casserole is a layer of beef, green beans, and corn held together with cream of mushroom soup and a top layer of tater tots baked in the oven. The TOTBOSS food truck offers this classic dish on the go. Another Minnesota food is the lefse – brought over from Norwegian heritage, it is a very thin potato pancake often topped with sugar and butter. You can order them online from Lena’s Lefse or get them from one of the Taste of Scandinavia Bakery & Cafe locations in the twin cities.

And, of course, there’s the Scandinavian delight: lutefisk. It is a dried whitefish that is soaked in a lye or birch ash and water mixture for a couple days. During this time, the protein content significantly decreases and it is turned into essentially a gelatinous blog of stale fish. If this sounds delicious to you, check out Olsen Fish – they are the world’s largest lutefisk producer and only use Norwegian fish. For a slightly less gelatinous, but still somewhat gelatinous form of meat, every can of Spam in the world is made in Minnesota.

A Minnesota tradition is the cooking of Booya – a giant drum of meat and vegetable stew served to large crowds for fundraisers. Each month there is a large list of churches, charities, and other organizations in the Twin Cities hosting a Booya fundraiser for the community. There is also a Booya Cookoff Competition in St. Paul each fall.

Now it is time to make a Juicy Lucy! Here’s what you will need for two burgers and some fries – multiply accordingly for more people.

  • 1 lb ground chuck
  • buns
  • cheese slices
  • 3 Tbl lard
  • 3 Tbl butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • potatoes

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Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Put the ground beef into a bowl and mix it together with all the spices/seasonings.

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  • Split it up into four thin patties. Then fold over a slice of cheese into a stack of four smaller slices, and place one stack each into the middle of two of the patties.

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  • Stack the patties together and smoosh them together on the sides, reducing the chances of the cheese prematurely exiting the burger.

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  • Melt the butter and the lard together in an iron skillet on medium-high. Beware of splatters when you put the meat into the skillet. Cook for a while on each side until the internal temp reaches 160 for a medium burger. The burgers will char a little on the outside, which helps trap in the cheese and adds a unique flavor. While it is in the skillet, tilt the skillet occasionally and use a spoon to baste the burgers with the lard/butter mixture. This will keep it from drying out too much in the cooking process.

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  • For the fries: cut up some potatoes into approximate fry shapes (I am really bad at getting them even). Shake them in a ziploc bag with some corn oil and salt for a while, throw them on a baking sheet, and put them in the oven on 425 until they reach the level of doneness you prefer for fries.

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  • Put the burgers on the buns and top them with whatever you prefer. I like mine fairly basic; I use a little bit of bbq sauce, hot sauce, and some habanero cheese slices. Danielle used tomato, mayo, mustard, and a white & mild cheddar blend slice.

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Special appearance by a jar from the Loveless Cafe.

I hope y’all enjoy!

Next up: Columbus Blue Jackets (11/20/15)

Previously: Anaheim Ducks | Los Angeles Kings | New Jersey Devils | New York Islanders | Ottawa Senators | San Jose Sharks