Recipes from the Iron Range

Walnut-filled potica
Potica is a sweetbread with rich filling made with walnuts or poppyseeds. It's a traditional Slovak dessert, and is very popular on the Iron Range.
Photo courtesy of Andrej's European Pastry


Porketta is a seasoned pork roast that was popular with the Italian immigrants who came to Minnesota to work in the iron mines.

Yield: 6 servings


3 pounds boneless pork shoulder (Boston Butt) roast

2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch slices

4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

3/4 cup beef broth (or water)


Mix together seasonings and rub over all surfaces of pork roast. Brown roast in a little oil in large skillet over medium-high heat, turning often to brown evenly.

Place potatoes and garlic in a 3 1/2-4 quart slow cooker, pour broth over and top with browned pork roast. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours, until pork is very tender. Slice pork to serve with vegetables and juices.



Potica (pronounced puh-TEET-suh), is a delicacy brought to the Iron Range from Eastern Europeans. It's made from buttery pastry dough rolled into very thin layers. That's covered with a layer of brown sugar, spices, and walnuts. Then it's rolled into a small log-shaped loaf, and baked. Each slice of potica is a spiral of pastry and moist, sweet filling.

Prep Time: 30 minutes; Cook Time: 1 hour; Servings: 30


1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup milk, lukewarm

1 cup butter, softened

6 egg yolks

1 1/3 cups milk

5 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon


In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 3 tablespoons of the flour in warm milk. Mix well, and let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the remaining sugar. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the yeast mixture, remaining milk, 4 cups of flour and the salt; mix well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.

When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Lightly grease one or two cookie sheets. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll Out to 1/4- to 1/2-inch thickness.

Spread each piece with melted butter, honey, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. Roll each piece up like a jelly roll and pinch the ends. Place seam side down onto the prepared baking sheets. Let rise until double in volume. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.



Cornish miners who relocated to the iron mines of Upper Michigan and Minnesota brought the recipe and tradition of pasties with them.

The pasty is a meat pie with potatoes and other root vegetables, sealed and baked in a light pastry crust. The pie was wrapped in a kerchief to retain its warmth, and fit into the back pocket of miners' work clothes.



1-1/2 pounds of 1/4-inch cubed round steak

1/2 pound of ground pork

4 cups of cubed peeled potatoes

1 cup of chopped onions

1/2 cup of chopped carrots

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic granules

2 Tbsp. dried parsley


6 cups all purpose flour

3 cups shortening or lard

4 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. salt

4 eggs

1/4 cup vinegar

1/2 cup water


Mix all filling ingredients together.

For crust, mix flour, shortening, sugar, and salt till crumbly. Add eggs, vinegar, and water. Knead one floured surface. Form a big ball, and cut into pieces about the size of a clenched fist.

Roll out each ball to about size of dessert plate. Put about a cupful of filling on upper half of dough. Dot with butter (prevents drying out). Fold lower half of dough over filling. Press down edges with fork tines. Brush tops with eggwash for even browning. Prick tops with fork.

Bake at 375 degrees for about an hour, or until golden brown.

They can be made ahead of time and frozen until it's time to bake them.



Sarmas are cabbage leaves stuffed with a meat and rice mixture, a traditional Croatian dish.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes; Cook Time: 3 Hours; Servings: 6


1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground ham

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1 pound sauerkraut

1 cup tomato juice

Water to cover


Place cabbage in the freezer for a few days. The night before making the rolls, take it out to thaw. This process makes the leaves easier to handle.

In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, ham, rice, onion, egg, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix well. Form meat mixture into oblong balls, using 1/2 cup of the mixture at a time. Then, wrap a cabbage leaf around each ball.

Spread the sauerkraut in the bottom of a large pot, then layer cabbage rolls on top, placing them seam-side down. Pour tomato juice over rolls, then add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 hours, adding more water as necessary.

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