South Dakota Chislic

5 from 8 votes
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South Dakota chislic with fries, hot sauce and blue cheese sauce.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Chislic is one of those semi-secret regional foods that if you know, you know, and if not, well, you probably are having a hard time even forming the sound of this dish’s name in your head.

Pronounced “chiz-lick,” or in some places more like “chis-lick,” chislic is, simply, chunks of red meat grilled or fried, either on a skewer or served with toothpicks. It’s what you eat at a South Dakota bar after limiting out on pheasants, or while watching the Vikings.

Chislic is deeply South Dakotan, and in its purest form is fried mutton with garlic salt, served with Saltines on the side. But there are variations, and beef and venison chislic are common. 

I’ve eaten it in various divey bars while pheasant hunting, or just passing through SoDak. I happen to like the “Buffalo wings” presentation, with hot sauce and blue cheese sauce on the side. And fries are more substantial than the Saltines, but both are good.

If you’ve heard Chef David Chang use the term “ugly delicious,” this is that and then some. Chislic is probably more “dirty delicious,” because it makes you feel that way after eating a half pound of deep-fried venison chunks with a plate of fries and, ahem, several beers.

South Dakota chislic platter
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Chislic is unusual in that it is fried directly — no coating. This darkens your oil in a hurry, and my advice is to reuse it only for future batches of chislic. Your oil needs to be hot, and you don’t want to fry the venison very long or it will be gray at the center.

So far as seasoning, keep it simple: Garlic salt is all I use. Whatever you use, avoid paprika or other chile peppers, because they will burn in the oil and turn bitter. If you need a pepper fix, get it with hot sauce.

Saltines, as I’ve mentioned, are traditional, but if you want to make your own fries, here is a good recipe for homemade French fries.

While you can eat chislic as a main meal, it’s normally a bar snack or appetizer. If you want to continue the theme, try making this with my Buffalo meatballs. (Yep, meatballs served exactly like Buffalo wings), or honey mustard wings from either pheasants or ducks.

If you’re interested in a south-of-the-border take on this, it turns out there’s a kind of taco you can find in Hermosillo, Sonora, that bears a strong resemblance to chislic: chicharron de ribeye.

Venison chislic recipe
5 from 8 votes

South Dakota Chislic

I prefer my chislic fried, and with a combination of hot sauce and blue cheese sauce, but you can vary this as you like. Saltines are the normal accompaniment, but I like homemade fries better.
Course: Appetizer, lunch, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 2 pounds venison loin, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • Oil for frying
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • Blue cheese sauce to taste (optional)

Instructions 

  • Be sure to remove any silverskin from the venison, and make the cubes about an inch across. Dust with the garlic salt.
  • Fill enough oil in a heavy pot or a deep fryer to be able to submerge the venison -- you'll be cooking it in batches, so it doesn't need to be huge. Bring it to 350°F. Set out some paper towels to let the finished chislic drain.
  • Pat the meat dry with paper towels and carefully drop about 1/2 pound into the fryer. It will roil violently. Let the venison fry for about 2 minutes, then move it to the paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining venison, a 1/2 pound at a time.
  • Serve with toothpicks, hot sauce, blue cheese sauce, beer, and fries or Saltines.

Notes

NOTES: If you are making fries, my advice is to make them first and keep them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet in a warm oven. If you are looking for a good blue cheese sauce, try this recipe from Simply Recipes

Nutrition

Calories: 227kcal | Protein: 46g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 1249mg | Potassium: 602mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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20 Comments

  1. This was my favorite meal as a child! I have never tried it with hot sauce though. Dipping the meat in hot melted butter was the way to go. We are going for a slightly different “mutton” as the next batch will be dall sheep.

  2. I’m 70 years old and my dad owned a tavern in Huron, South Dakota when I was born. He served mutton chislick and said everyone loved it even if they didn’t like mutton. I never ever had it as he never made it after I was born. I’ve gotta try it now.

    1. Vern: Mutton! That’s pretty cool. It’s rare to see people eat it here in the US anymore. I happen to like it.

    2. I,too, had chislic for the first time in Huron , SD when I taught at the college there. I have to wonder if it might have been your dad’s tavern where I enjoyed this treat. Just a few weeks ago on my travels through Mitchell, I got to enjoy chislic again after many years.

  3. We tried duck chislic today and it was amazing! Absolutely my new favorite for duck, we tried a variety of spices as well as plain and cajun beer batter. They all were fantastic even my kids who don’t like duck loved it.

  4. Sounds delicious. Here in Detroit I’ve had something similar with beef. They marinate the beef overnight in a mix of Frank’s hot sauce and Soya sauce. Fry it (no covering) and serve with salty toast. They probably pat it dry before frying I would guess.

  5. Hi Hank. What temperature should the meat be when you put it in the fyer? Room temp or from the fridge? Are both fine and just yield different results?
    Thanks!

    1. Taissa: They actually think that might be the origin of chislic, because yes, there are Eastern European communities there.