Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Texas Independence Day

“Independence is declared: it must be maintained.”
March 2, 1836
Sam Houston

Texans love to celebrate and they certainly love to eat. But what food is actually Texan cuisine? Sort of depends upon whom you ask and what part of the state you’re discussing. There are typical dishes such as Chili, Fried Chicken, cornbread and pinto beans and many others that would be familiar to just about any southerner. However, there are also many examples of dishes that might seem quite exotic but actually are the result of the vast foreign populations that have made their home in the Lone Star State.

For ten years, from 1836 until 1846, Texas was an independent republic. This is a fact that “Texians” have never forgotten. Independence was declared during the week of the battle of the Alamo, which is memorialized on March 6. We think that it is a great opportunity to host A TEXAS CHILI PARTY! Check out the menu.

Main Dish

Lone Star Polenta Pie
Mary Faulk Koock

Although this recipe with its Italian-Texas style fusion cooking sounds as though I might have dreamed it up… I did not. It is an original recipe by one of the Grand Ladies of Texas cooking, Mary Faulk Koock. Mary was a dear friend and mentor of mine. She founded the legendary Green Pastures Restaurant in Austin, Texas and was also the author of several cookbooks including The Texas Cookbook published originally in 1965. Mary Faulk Koock cooked extensively for President Johnson’s family, the King Ranch and darn near every other noted family in Texas. Presidents, First Ladies, Governors and regular folks, she handled them all with style and grace.

Serves 6 to 8 persons

Ingredients: (* Available at Avanti Savoia)
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sea salt * #35049 Sel Gris Velvet, Artisan
½ tsp. crumbled dry sage * #32145 Ferri Dal 1905
½ tsp. ground black peppercorn * #32001 Ferri Dal 1905
3 1/2 cups cold water
1 lb. mild cheddar cheese, cubed
¼ to 1/2 cup Nicoise olives, pitted and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
2 medium onions, chopped
½ cup Jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 cup Tomato Sauce * #38004 Oliveri
1 Tblsp. or more extra virgin olive oil * #10005 Le Magnolie
1 Tblsp. oregano * #32050 Green Oregano “Sicily” Ferri Dal 1905

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix cornmeal, sea salt, sage and black pepper in a 2-qt. saucepan.
3. Stir in cold water. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until very thick. (This recipe does not lump.)
4. Pour into an oiled, flat 1 ½ qt. baking dish and bake until firm, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
5. Mix cheddar cheese, olives, garlic, onions, Jalapenos, Tomato Sauce, olive oil and oregano. Spread over hot cornmeal crust and bake in hot oven until cheese melts. Serve hot!

Texas Chili
Joseph Lowery

Serves 8
2-1/2 lbs. (coarsely cut) ground beef
2 green peppers, chopped
2 white onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced and mashed
¼ cup Masa (fine corn flour) or all-purpose flour
One 12oz. bottle of beer (room temp.)
3 or 4 Jalapeno peppers (or to taste), minced
One 28oz. can of stewed tomatoes
1 Tblsp. Green Oregano “Sicily” – *Ferri Dal #32050
2 Tblsp. Ground Cumin – *Ferri Dal #32040
2 Tblsp. chili powder
1 Tblsp. Sage – *Ferri Dal #32145
1 Tblsp. Ground Black Pepper – *Ferri Dal #32001
1 Tblsp. Salish Smoked Salt – *Artisan #35019
2 Tblsp. parsley, chopped
2 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar – *Claudio Rosso #25001
2 tsp. sugar
3-1/2 cups beef stock

In a large soup pan, brown meat in batches and set aside. Add chopped peppers, onions and garlic to hot grease And cook 4 or 5 minutes. Add Masa or flour and cook over a low heat for another five minutes stirring often, it will stick! Add beer, chopped Jalapenos, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer and stir in browned meat. Continue simmering and add rest of ingredients. Cook at a low simmer for two hours and stir from time to time. DO NOT let the chili stick or scorch. Taste for seasoning and serve with crackers, chopped onions and grated longhorn cheddar cheese. If desired serve a pot of pinto beans on the side but NEVER add beans to Texas Chili! Texans are fanatics about their chili (which is as it should be). The elements that contribute to the authenticity of this recipe are the following: Coarsely cut beef, Masa(corn flour), Jalapeno peppers, cumin and chili powder and NO BEANS.

Zuma’s Pecan Pie
Zuma Jones

Not famous, but still a Grand Texas Lady, Zuma Jones of the central Texas town of Grainger, gave me this recipe years ago. In its simplicity I think it is the perfect Pecan Pie. Did y’all know that the Pecan tree is the state tree of Texas?

3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
Pinch of salt
1 cup pecan pieces
1 unbaked 9” pie shell

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2. Slightly beat eggs and stir in all other ingredients. When mixture is blended, pour into unbaked pie shell and bake about 1 hour. Fine with homemade vanilla ice cream, but excellent just as it is, hot out of the oven.

Knock your guests out by serving your chili party on a Fusion tablescape and with elegant serving pieces from Jacaranda Style.

Beverage suggestions:
Although there are plenty of superior wineries in Texas, I think cold beer or sweetened iced tea is more in keeping with the spirit of A TEXAS CHILI PARTY. Enjoy!


dane said...

Joseph, you are truly an amazing person and a great chef. It is an honor to call you a friend. Hope the eye surgery went well. dANE

Averra said...

Hey Joseph - these recipes look great. We'll definitely be trying them. As a matter o' fact, Scott's ready for testing the chili tonight!

I came across a chili recipe recently that I really enjoy. It calls for sautéing the onions with balsamic vinegar and oil (we use Vanterra). The balsamic definitely adds a wonderful, unique flavor to the chili.