I love food.
One look at my thighs and you know it’s true.
I’ve been picking the last of the okra in my garden this week, so I thought good old Texas food might be a mouth-watering topic. A favorite thing worth writing about.
So here goes.
My Favorite Classic Texas Foods
1. Fried Okra
It’s what inspired me to write this post. I’ve got a bunch in my fridge right now that needs to be fried up. It might not be the healthiest vegetable (at least when it’s fried) but it sure is delicious.
My method: Mix 3 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour in a gallon ziploc bag and add a little salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Meanwhile, wash and slice the okra and soak it in buttermilk for about 10 minutes. Transfer in batches to the cornmeal mixture, seal the bag and give it a good shake until the okra is coated. I fry it in batches in about an inch of hot oil, turning as necessary until the okra is golden. Remove to paper towels to drain and give it a generous dose of salt when it’s still really hot.
Fried okra is delicious. My kids eat it like popcorn.
If you live in the South, grow it in your backyard in the summertime. It thrives in hot weather. Otherwise, buy it in the frozen food aisle.
The other way we like to use okra is in gumbo. My recipe isn’t authentic Cajun so if you’re from Louisiana, don’t get mad at me. I think it’s adapted from Southern Living, and is more tomato based than the Cajun kind. But my family loves it. Serve it over rice with a big piece of cornbread and I’m in hog heaven.
Here’s my recipe:
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1-2 stalks celery chopped
- 1/2 green pepper chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 lb. okra sliced
- 2 T. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can chicken broth
- 2 c. water
- 1/2 t. hot sauce
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 t. thyme
- 2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
- 1/2 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- Combine oil and flour in Dutch oven; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until roux is caramel colored (10-15 minutes). Stir in celery, onion, pepper and garlic; cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Fry okra in 1 T. hot oil until browned. Add to gumbo, reduce heat to low and stir well. (At this stage, mixture may be cooled, refrigerated or frozen for later use.) Add broth, water and undrained tomatoes, worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 1 hour. Cook sausage in skillet to brown; add to gumbo with chicken. Cook 30 more minutes. Serve over hot rice.
2. Chicken-Fried Steak
Quite possibly my favorite food ever. For the uninitiated, it’s cube steak (an extremely tenderized cut of sirloin) that’s breaded and–you guessed it–fried like chicken. Most Southerners like it with cream gravy, but I veer off the beaten path here and eat mine with ketchup. My husband has threatened a few times to divorce me over it, but luckily he’s been able to look past it and stick with me anyway.
I’ve never actually made chicken-fried steak at home. Here in Texas, we have so many delicious options that I’ve never had to. In fact, if you are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you need to eat at Babe’s Chicken. Their chicken-fried steak, fried chicken, homestyle vegetables and biscuits are all to die for. I’ve never had creamed corn so good anywhere outside my grandmother’s table.
3. Pecan Pie
Pecan pie is as much a part of Thanksgiving in Texas as pumpkin pie ever was. For those of you who aren’t Texans, the pecan is our official state tree and if you have one growing anywhere near you, your yard will be covered with pecans in the fall. Or in the spring, you’ll be digging up pecan seedlings everywhere.
The squirrels love them and so do we. I’m just going to go ahead and declare the humble pecan: Best. Nut. Ever. We Texans use pecans on and in everything. But my favorite way to eat them is just by themselves. Mmmmm.
I’m a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never baked a pecan pie. My mom says they’re super easy to make, but since she keeps making them, I just keep eating hers.
There are as many Tex-Mex restaurants in Texas as there are churches. Maybe more. And that’s saying something ’cause there are churches on every street corner. Some of the best Tex-Mex often lurks in little hole-in-the-wall places. I pretty much like all of it, and if I ever had to move away I’m sure I would have wicked withdrawal symptoms.
I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this but for those of you living elsewhere, Taco Bell is NOT in any way, shape, or form Tex-Mex.
One of my favorite times for homemade authentic Tex-Mex food is during the Christmas season. Lots of the local Hispanic population make homemade tamales and sell them at Christmas time and there’s just nothing quite like homemade tamales.
We Texans love our barbecue. Although I love me some good barbecued pork ribs, the focus in Texas tends to be more on beef. A good barbecue beef brisket is pretty much a staple for any summer cookout. If it’s cooked right it just melts in your mouth. And just like the Tex-Mex joints, sometimes you find the best barbecue at a little shack with a smoker out back. A pretty common sight in Texas.
I could go on and on about Texas food. But instead I’ll just make this offer: if you come to Texas, look me up. We can go eat together!
Just leave your skinny jeans at home.