Let’s state the obvious: winter is the best season of the year for flexing your culinary muscles.
Just think about it– the techniques of slow-cooking, roasting, braising and broiling are the hallmark of many world cuisines. But who wants to do that in the middle of a 90* summer day?
I certainly don’t.
When I heard about Green Chile Stew from Tocabe restaurant in North Denver & Greenwood Village, CO, I was SUPER excited.
Here was a recipe I’d never tried before– and the perfect excuse for breaking out a great-big stock pot.
But more than that– it was an occasion to learn all about a type of cuisine I didn’t know anything about:
American Indian Cuisine– specifically, the food of the Osage Nation.
One of the co-owners of Tocabe, Ben Jacobs, took some time to answer a few questions about American Indian cuisine and cooking.
YSA: Tocabe is an American Indian restaurant. Can you give our readers an understanding of the flavor profiles and types of food available at the restaurant? How has the restaurant and its offerings developed over time?
Ben: We have several styles of presentation from which to choose – from a base of Frybread or Grilled Bannock Bread to Wild Rice Bowls and Salads. Flavors are bold but not too spicy, and by marinating our proteins we’re able to enhance the natural flavors of the meats and then showcase the seasonal vegetables and salsas we serve with everything.
YSA: Are the dishes specifically inspired by the Osage Nation, or are other Nations represented?
Ben: Many of the items on the menu have origins in the Osage tradition, but we have also expanded our offerings to showcase other regional American Indian tribes’ cuisines. We travel the country working in different tribal areas to further educate ourselves in different culinary traditions. We are passionate sourcing as much as we can from American Indian food purveyors.
YSA: What are some hallmarks of Osage Nation cuisine, versus other Nations/Regions? I’m from Connecticut and got a very brief education on the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation as a kid, but it’s no secret that education on America’s American Indian cultures is lacking.
Ben: Our Frybread recipe is from Osage Nation, actually it’s my grandmother’s exact recipe. We do seasonal rotations of soups and stews that have strong ties to traditional Osage recipes.
YSA: Of all the “ethnic” foods that are represented in the American dining scene, how do you think we can have First Nations or Native American foods be better represented?
Ben: Many of the foods that we eat on a daily basis actually have a tradition in American Indian cuisine – from corn, to beans and squash to potatoes, wild rices and herbs. It will take more establishments like ours and food education (like this article) for people to better understand where the food they enjoy actually comes from.
YSA: If people wanted to learn more about Native American cuisine at home, what are some resources they could turn to?
Ben: There are some really good Native American cookbooks out there – we recommend that route over a general internet search.
YSA: And if people wanted to visit or eat at Tocabe, how can they learn more about you guys?
Ben: A great place to start is our website www.tocabe.com
Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you one taste of Tocabe’s fine food:
Green Chile Stew
You know, 100% perfect for the upcoming “Big Game”
(I’m assuming the guys at Tocabe are rooting for the Broncos, no?)
|3536 W 44th Ave,
Denver, CO 80211
|8181 E Arapahoe Rd,
Greenwood Village, CO 80112
Hours at Both Locations:
Monday – Saturday 11 AM – 9 PM
Sunday 12 PM – 8 PM
Featured Image: Tocabe’s Fry Bread. Photo credit: Adam Larkey