You can’t get too much more cowboy than cooking your steak right on a pitchfork. The Medora Musical Pitchfork Cookout and musical has been cooking up steak this way for over half a century. In the shadow of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park the town of Medora has become known for the musical and fried meat. We stopped by while in town to try this one of a kind meal. You couldn’t pick too much better of a place to spend an evening in North Dakota than a top of a hill overlooking the park and the badlands.
In the 1960’s North Dakota businessman Harold Schafer, wanted to start something to put the small town of Medora on the map. In 1965, he came up with the idea for a western inspired variety show to get people excited about this part of the world that he cared so much about. Before the show, the tradition became the signature meal, the steak fondue.
The star of the meal is without a doubt the uniquely cooked 12oz Ribeye. Cuts of meat are stacked onto a pitchfork and dropped into a bubbling vat of peanut oil. A few skilled cooks watch over the meat keeping a close eye on the oil temperature. After just the right amount of time, the pitchforks are pulled from the fryer and a steak is offloaded right onto your plate.
I was a bit skeptical of a deep-fried steak and how you could cook steak for the masses, but I was pleasantly surprised. The peanut oil quickly cooks the steak quickly and seals in the natural juices of the meat. The outside of the meat develops a slight crust that has just a little crunch. The Ribeye was nicely a flavorful and a nice shade of medium pink that suits most people’s taste. Besides the two big holes in the middle of the steak from the pitchfork, it was pretty tasty.
The beef may be the star, but there are 5 other slots stamped into the stainless steel cafeteria-style trays for an array of sides. Keeping with traditional western style picnic food, coleslaw, baked potatoes, Texas toast, baked beans, fruits, and veggies are served buffet style. For dessert, a big square of moist chocolate brownie comes served red and white striped paper picnic tray.
After dinner and as the sunsets the true show starts, the Medora Musical. This summer of 2015 celebrates the 50th anniversary of the western variety show in town. Starting promptly at 7:30 pm nightly in the summer, the show blends music, dancing, and a little bit of comedy. The hosts are funny and entertaining and pretty darn good. This summer’s show focuses on the progression of history throughout the years of the shows from the 60’s all the way into today.
The show and the Fondue was a nice way to finish a day and our time in North Dakota!
*Thanks to the North Dakota Tourism for inviting us to your great state*