Her prime rib secret? Coffee!


by Sandy Bond

With an incredible work ethic and unquenchable thirst for knowledge, Patti Pudwill has learned myriad jobs since she settled in South Dakota.

She worked as a food preparer at the VFW in Gettysburg, at The Connection in Mobridge, as Java Town Board finance officer, and office manager at a propane distribution company for five years, “originally knowing nothing about the propane industry at all,” she said. “But I learned!”
Since 2007, she has been employed part-time in the Campbell County Highway Department and Campbell County Extension Office as a shared secretary. Then Campbell County Extension reorganized under South Dakota State University’s Stewards of Progress in 2011 to become a four-county district with Walworth, McPherson, and Edmunds counties. And when Highway Superintendent Clinton Kost retired, Patti found employment as the full-time highway superintendent. She is only one of three female highway superintendents in the state, she said, including Walworth County’s Penny Goetz.

“What most people don’t know about me is that I love anything mechanical,” she said. Her dad was always repairing their vehicles and Patti was his helper.

“I’m proud to say I can change my own oil in my car and what I don’t know down at the shop, I’m ready to learn,” she said.

The daughter of Pat, a beautician, and the late Nick Killian, a career soldier, Patti was born in El Paso, Texas. The family moved to South Dakota when she was three years old and Patti grew up in the Gettysburg area where her father was stationed. She graduated from Bureau Valley High School in Illinois and attended Sauk Valley College in Sauk Valley, Ill., obtaining her associate degree in accounting. She also is an EMT-Basic and treasurer of the South Dakota EMT Association.

She, husband Stacy, and children Dalton, 13, and Justin, 10, farm and ranch in the Herreid area raising Red Angus cattle. The boys attend Herreid Schools and are incredibly busy in school and sports activities.

“My inspiration for cooking came from my father and my grandmother Whitver,” she said.
Patti enjoys cooking an assortment of foods.

“I will try to cook anything at least once. I’m always learning new tricks,” she said, “from salads to grilling steaks, especially when I’m short on time. You usually don’t have a lot of clean-up.”
She also relies on knowledge gleaned from past employment. Working in a bed and breakfast in Illinois was hugely gratifying, she said, and lots of fun. They did lots of weddings, hosted multitudes of people, and she learned many shortcuts from the owner.

She shared one of her most unusual but hugely successful techniques.

“The secret to making great prime rib even from a mediocre cut,” she said, “is coffee. Seriously.”
She learned this many years ago when employed at the VFW Club in Gettysburg. But the first time she poured freshly brewed coffee into a pan of prime rib, her relatives were aghast, thinking she was going to ruin this beautiful cut of beef with coffee.

Fill the pan up to three-quarters full and cook at approximately 250 degrees.

“It comes out tender and moist and the drippings make great au jus for the most scrumptious leftover sandwiches,” she said.

In her spare time, Patti enjoys reading books by John Grisham, spending time with her family and friends and watching great comedy movies and television shows. She also enjoys gardening.

“However, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to keep up with the weeds,” she said. “My family like tomatoes and potatoes the best, so we plant a lot of those. And who doesn’t like fresh tomato sandwiches in the summer time?”

– Sandy Bond –

Easy Rolls:

1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together flour and milk. Add sugar and mayonnaise. Pour into slightly greased muffin pans and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Serves 4.

in Wine Sauce:

4 large skinless boneless chicken breasts
6 oz. Swiss cheese slices
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup white wine (more if desired)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup herb flavored Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, crushed
4 Tbsp. butter melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Please chicken in shallow buttered casserole. Layer cheese on top. Mix soup, wine, salt, and pepper, pour over cheese. Sprinkle stuffing mix on top and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 45 minutes to 60 minutes. Serves 4.

Fried Green Tomatoes:

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (or less)
1 Tbsp. sugar
Pinch of pepper
1 cup of milk
6 to 8 green tomatoes

To fry:
Cut tomatoes into 1/3-inch slices. Dip in batter. Fry in deep fat, drain. Serve.

Cucumber and
Onion Salad:

3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
2/3-cup vinaigrette
1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
Whip together until like cream. Pour over sliced onions and cucumbers. Let stand overnight or several hours.

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