Texan food can mean many different things. The eastern part of the state shares dishes and techniques from Creole country and the Deep South. Border town cuisine takes much of their influence from Mexico. But the first thing I think of when I think of Texan food is beef. And gigantic meat smokers. And more beef.
Blogger Lisa Fain's new cookbook, The Homesick Texan's Family Table, contains a lot of it. Beef shows up in expected places, like enchiladas, and surprising dishes—her baked beans, for example, are spiked with salty jerky. There is, of course, much more to like about Fain's book than just its Texan embrace of all things steer. As she explains in the introduction, this cookbook is all about potluck dinners, family gatherings, and long, rambunctious meals. The featured dishes are all generously Texan at heart, and they span the wide variety of cultures that call Texas their home. Tex-Mex, barbecue, and Southern casseroles all get their due.
Like the recipes on her award-winning blog, Fain's take on Texan cuisine is free of most of the convenience products seen in the classic, church cookbook versions of the food. (I say most because, well, you can't have Texan cooking without Fritos and ketchup.) She makes her queso with real cheese and her tortillas from scratch. Yet even with these extra steps, Fain's recipes are easy to follow, and most are simple enough to whip up on a busy weeknight. Those that aren't usually require a few hours of hands-free braising, so, again, it's nothing difficult.
This week, we're embracing the diversity of the Texan table. In addition to those beefy enchiladas and baked cowboy beans, we'll toss together a Frito salad (yes, a Frito salad), roll out homemade bacon fat-filled flour tortillas, and slow-cook a couple of racks of spicy and sweet pork ribs. Get ready to feast.