Chislic is kind of a big deal in South Dakota. So much so that in 2018 legislators passed a bill which deemed it the official "nosh" of South Dakota, AND we now have the South Dakota Chislic Festival. Nothing says BIG DEAL like legislation and a festival.
The true origin of chislic is somewhat debatable. Most people can agree it likely came from German Russian heritage brought into this region (southeast SD) when being settled.
There is documentation that chislic first started being sold in/around/near Freeman, SD in the 30s. Of course, we cannot be certain who actually started selling it first, so there is debate over that as well.
Traditionally, chislic is cubed lamb meat cooked over an open fire on a skewer. Today you can walk into many restaurants in the area and find different variations. Most commonly you will find beef chislic, but several restaurants still serve the traditional lamb chislic. Fried or grilled, it just depends. Comparing it to beef tips is the easiest way for me to describe it to out-of-town friends and family.
Most restaurants serve chislic in a basket with toothpicks, instead of on a skewer. My preferred way to eat lamb chislic is with a side of garlic salt to dip each bite in. A newer spot in town, Urban Chislic, has gone so far to have a selection of sauce options served with your chislic, much like what you may find at Buffalo Wild Wings for your chicken wings. I do like having all those options for my beef chislic.
For South Dakota, chislic is our state nosh. For Sioux Falls, it is a culinary experience to share with visitors. For Freeman (and the Chislic Circle), it is their history, tradition and a source of community pride. While some people may laugh at the fact that it is our state nosh, or turn their nose up at it, I think they are missing out. At the very least, it connects us with the history of our region. Personally, I am always thrilled to share the chislic experience with my friends and family from out-of-state.
Now for those of you wondering about the Chislic festival, I have good news, It is coming up soon! Saturday, July 27th is the official date. It will be at the Freeman Prairie Arboretum, which is about an hour outside of Sioux Falls. Sounds like the perfect day-trip to me! 2019 South Dakota Chislic Festival
Thanks for reading!