Thursday, September 29, 2016

Fried chicken livers

Fried chicken livers | Homesick Texan

Last week I found myself with a surplus of chicken livers. This doesn’t occur very often in my kitchen, so at first I wasn’t sure what to do. But I shouldn’t have worried as I soon decided frying them up and dipping them in cream gravy would be the best way to use up what I had.

Fried chicken livers are a classic Texan dish, but you don’t see them very often these days. Perhaps your grandmother made them when you were young, but it’s only on rare occasions that I spot them on restaurant menus or even in someone’s home kitchen. And this is a shame as these crunchy nuggets always hit the spot.

While I was pondering fried chicken livers, I thought back to the last time I had them. It was two years ago in the East Texas town of Silsbee when I was on tour for my last book. After my event we went to get lunch at The Cottage, which was a happy place filled with comfortable furniture and friendly people who jumped from table to table visiting with each other. Dining there was like being in someone’s home.

Fried chicken livers | Homesick Texan

The owner, Flo, is famous for her hamburgers and hand-cut fries, which were indeed very good. But when I spotted fried chicken livers on the menu, I ordered a round of these for the table, too. They arrived along with a side of cream gravy (that’s the preferred dipping sauce though I’ve known some to go with buttermilk dressing or even ketchup), and we all picked up a piece, dipped it in gravy, and savored the crisp texture and lush flavor. It was a fine beginning to a hearty meal out in the East Texas woods.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Green chile Frito pie

Green chile Frito pie | Homesick Texan

Frito pie is a Texas icon. This tangle of corn chips topped with chili, jalapeƱos, cheese, and onion is a staple at football games, church suppers, school lunches, and perhaps even your own kitchen. It’s certainly a favorite of mine and I never pass up an opportunity to enjoy one either when I see them out in the wild or have some extra chili and Fritos around.

Now, a few years ago someone mentioned to me that Frito pie was not from Texas but instead came from New Mexico. This, of course, gave me pause. Not only are the chips from Texas but so is the chili. Not to mention, the dish itself is so deeply embedded into our culture it just seemed impossible that it could be from anywhere else.

A little research lead me to discover that the first published mention of it was in an Abilene, Texas newspaper in 1947. This was enough tangible proof for me of its heritage, and as my grandparents had told me stories of eating Frito pie in the 1940s as well, I know that it was popular with Texans at that time.

Green chile Frito pie | Homesick Texan

But after more digging I found that it was mentioned in a New Mexico newspaper in 1948. So it seems that the folks in New Mexico have been enjoying Frito pie almost as long as Texans, and it became clear why someone might think that it originated there.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Hatch chile chocolate chip cookies

Hatch chile chocolate chip cookies | Homesick Texan

Hatch chiles in New York are rare. Some seasons you’ll see them, but last summer there were none to be found. Just when I thought this year might be the same, I finally spotted the elusive peppers. And while at almost three dollars a pound they would be considered expensive by other place’s standards, they were quite the bargain for New York so I filled a large bag with my bounty.

Last week, I was in Texas doing research and it was during the height of the Hatch celebration there. Since I’m the kind of person that enjoys walking around the grocery store, I found myself visiting at least one every day and it was fun seeing all the creative ways that Hatch chiles could be used.

Hatch chile chocolate chip cookies | Homesick Texan

On my last night in Texas, as I was telling a friend about my visit to Central Market she asked if I’d tried the Hatch chile chocolate chip cookies. Unfortunately, I had missed them so I decided to stop at an HEB on the way to the airport to see if they had any there. (I also wanted to pick up some more of the Hatch chile flour tortillas, as we’d finished all the ones I’d previously bought.)

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