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Tines of Thanks
Aug 19, 2013
The pitchfork is sometimes used as a symbol of hard work, or perhaps as an indicator of an angry mob. At Jay & LeAnne Cutts’ farm near Mission Hill, it’s a sign of friendship. For the past 5 years, the Yankton County couple and their sons Frank, Robbie and George have hosted a pitchfork fondue party to show appreciation for friends, neighbors and acquaintances. “I invite people that have touched me or my family in some way, people I want to share with and say ‘Thank you for being my friend,’” LeAnne says.
The Cutts family provides the meat — this year, a case of pork loin and aged prime sirloin — and other fixings. Mission Hill residents Scott Olson and Keith Williams bring the setup, the fondueing know-how, and the clean pitchforks. “They’ve got it down to a science,” LeAnne says.
Williams also prepares “skinny potatoes,” shredded hash browns cooked in a Dutch oven with heavy whipping cream, cheese and two pounds of bacon. Raw vegetables, fruit and Dutch oven desserts fill out the menu.
Guests gather their lawn chairs around the fondue crew to watch them work. After the meal is served, there’s live music and dancing, outdoor films for the kids, and plenty of good conversation.
It’s hard for South Dakotans to come empty-handed, but Olson, Williams and the Cutts family provide everything needed for a pleasant summer evening. “People always say, ‘What can I bring? What can I bring?’” LeAnne says. “I tell them just to come and have a good time.”
Pitchfork Fondue Tips
- Use a big pot. At the Cutts’ party, they use an old cast iron scalding pot, a relic of hog butchering days, which holds about 25 gallons of oil. “If you were using a smaller pot, it’d be tough to keep the temperature up where it needs to be,” says Jay.
- Heat the oil to 325-350 degrees.
- Cooking time varies by the size of the meat chunks. “The trick is to know when to pull the meat out,” says Jay. “It is so hot that it keeps cooking as you take it off the fork,” He recommends going by color. “The pork turns to a light tender brown and the beef is probably gray. You don’t want any brown to the beef.”
- Season the meat with a bit of seasoned salt — no steak sauce or other condiments are needed.