Looking out at the area surrounding Springfield, IL it is easy to forget there is anything around besides the endless acres of soybeans and corn. Within this seemingly endless and amazingly flat sea of corn and beans lies my hometown the capital of Illinois and the center of everything Abraham Lincoln related. Not a bustling metropolis by any means at 100,000 people, this corn-rowed paradise still has its own original culinary creation: the horseshoe sandwich. All kidding aside, I am rather fond of my hometown, and I would die for a bar or restaurant in this area that could serve me a horseshoe.
This wonderfully unhealthy open faced sandwich is composed 2 pieces of Texas toast, two hamburger patties, topped with a mountain of fries and a creamy cheese sauce (usually cheddar). In a way it has always kind of reminded me of that greasy French- Canadian delicacy poutine (fries+gravy+cheese curds). As you eat a horseshoe, the cheesiness of the sauce soaks into the fries bread and hamburger and begins to overwhelm the taste of all of them. If done right, the crisp sweet taste of the cheese will compliment the fries and burger perfectly. Naturally, as you continue eat the food soaks up even more of the sauce and hence becomes even more irresistibly tasty. Some dislike this effect because it makes the food soggy, but as you can tell, I can’t get enough of the taste and I usually can’t stop until I have eaten the last cheese soaked piece.
Ok, so as of this moment, I have no pictures of this delicious central Illinois delicacy to post. Since I doubt that I will get a chance to visit my family in the area until sometime next year, here is the wikipedia post on it:
I do have plans to attempt to reproduce it myself, so I will definitely post on that when the time comes. Variations on the horseshoe include substituting the hamburger for buffalo chicken, ham, lamb, pork, shrimp or any other type of meat. Cheese sauces vary as well to include topping such as a creamy spicy jack sauce or even a gravy or tomato based sauce. Restaurants in the area are constantly trying to reinvent the horseshoe or come up with their own original spin on it so there is always a new variation.
In many ways, this is the ultimate bar food as it is easily cooked up with a slight modification of the normal french fries, hamburger, and cheese. The local bar and grill Darcy’s Pint became famous for its horseshoes after being featured on Al Roker’s Food Network show Roker on the Road. Even before it’s fame I had been going to Darcy’s and several other area bar and grills to stuff my face with this unsophisticated yet tasty delicacy. Growing up in Springfield, horseshoes were so common it felt like they were a normal part of American cuisine like a cheeseburger or meatloaf. And, I must say there are many days that I do wish that horseshoes were just that, so I could go down the street in Raleigh and order one of these wonderful burger and fry cheese fondues.