West Virginia’s food culture offers a delightful culinary journey through its diverse heritage. Known for its bountiful, hearty meals that echo its coal mining history and Appalachian roots, the cuisine of this region has a story to tell.
What food is West Virginia known for? Take a break from your favorite online casino games to peruse this menu of the state’s favorite cuisine and where to savor the best food in West Virginia.
Pepperoni Rolls: A Bite of History and Flavour
Undeniably the most quintessential of West Virginia’s famous food, the humble pepperoni roll has made its mark on the state’s culinary map. Originating in the coal mines, this convenient and hearty snack was designed as a simple lunch for miners. A typical pepperoni roll is a soft white bread roll filled with slices or sticks of pepperoni. While simple, the blending flavors of spicy pepperoni and fresh-baked bread make for a satisfying treat.
Prepare dough: Mix 2 cups flour, 1 packet yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup warm water. Knead until smooth, let rise 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Divide dough into 10 pieces, flatten each into a rectangle. Place 3-4 slices or 1 stick pepperoni in the center of each piece. Roll and seal the edges. Arrange rolls on a baking sheet, let them rest for 15 minutes then bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Where to Try
For an authentic taste, head to Fairmont’s Country Club Bakery, where Italian immigrant Giuseppe ‘Joseph’ Argiro invented the pepperoni roll in 1927.
Ramps: Wild Leeks With a Cult Following
Every spring, West Virginians eagerly await the arrival of ramps, a wild leek with a distinctive garlic-onion flavor and a tasty example of the unique foods from West Virginia. Ramps are a staple of Appalachian cooking, often fried with potatoes, scrambled with eggs or made into a pesto. These pungent plants are even celebrated with festivals throughout the state.
Clean 1 pound of ramps thoroughly. Cut off the roots, keep the bulb and leaves. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add ramps and sauté until bulbs are translucent. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup white wine and reduce until nearly evaporated. Add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Remove from heat and toss in fresh herbs like parsley or chives. Serve as a side dish, over pasta or on grilled bread. Enjoy this seasonal, wild delicacy’s unique, garlicky flavor that’s a fusion of onion and leek.
Where to Try
Ramps are unlikely to be found at the malls in West Virginia. Instead, you’re most likely to find them at the many local farmer’s markets in the spring, but for a unique experience, visit the annual Feast of the Ramson in Richwood, known as the “Ramp Capital of the World.”
Apple Butter: A Sweet Spread with a Crunchy History
A heart-warming spread often found in West Virginia homes is apple butter, a concentrated form of applesauce, seasoned with spices such as cinnamon, clove and allspice. Its history dates back to the state’s earliest settlers who needed to preserve their apple harvests for the harsh winters.
Peel, core and slice 5 pounds of apples. Put apples in a slow cooker, add 2 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Cover, cook on low for 10 hours, stirring occasionally. After 10 hours, puree the mixture using an immersion blender until smooth. If too runny, cook on high, uncovered, for 1-2 more hours until thickened. Let cool, store in airtight jars in the fridge. Use on toast, pancakes or just by the spoonful. This homemade apple butter is flavorful, sweet and perfect for fall.
Where to Try
For some of the best apple butter in West Virginia, consider visiting the Berkeley Springs Apple Butter Festival, a West Virginia hidden gem, where locals compete for the best recipe.
Biscuits and Gravy: The Heart and Soul of West Virginia Cuisine
No list of West Virginia foods would be complete without mentioning biscuits and gravy. A classic country breakfast that fills your stomach and soothes your soul, biscuits are split and covered with a white gravy that’s typically studded with bits of sausage and seasoned with black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. Combine 2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt; cut in 1/4 cup shortening until crumbly. Stir in 3/4 cup milk. Knead, roll and cut into biscuits. Bake for 15-20 mins. For gravy, cook 1/2 pound sausage in a pan until brown. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour, stir until absorbed. Gradually add 2 cups milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thick, season with salt and pepper. Pour hot gravy over warm biscuits. This hearty, classic Southern breakfast is perfect for those who love savory and filling meals.
Where to Try
Tudor’s Biscuit World is a must-visit for its delicious take on this staple West Virginia dish.
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