Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Ancho chile and cocoa-rubbed flank steak tacos

ancho chile and cocoa-rubbed flank steak tacos|Homesick Texan

The path to Houston from DFW is direct once you make your way to I-45 from the airport. But in search of Truth Barbecue in Brenham, after landing in Dallas I consulted my map and took I-35 instead. My phone had me exit the freeway a few miles south of West and while I wasn’t quite sure where I was, it was still early enough in the day I figured I could arrive at the restaurant before they were sold out of meat.

To shorten a long story that involves a patch of bluebonnets, a swarm of love bugs, a white car, and a good hour without any phone reception, let’s just say I ended up in Snook, where nothing was open, even its famed restaurant Sodolak’s Country Inn, “Home of the Chicken-Fried Bacon.” At this point, Truth was closed and I was going to be late for the evening service at my mom’s church. So, I got on Highway 290 and made my way towards Cypress. We had tacos for dinner instead.

Now it’s a given that I miss Texas often. But after being back in New York for a couple of weeks and then reading about all the great barbecue in Texas via Texas Monthly’s latest Top 50 list (on which Truth landed in the top 10), my homesickness has been strong. Sure, there’s now decent barbecue in New York. But taking the subway to a restaurant is not the same as an early morning road trip along Texas back roads in pursuit of a butcher paper-lined tray piled high with brisket, sausage, and ribs.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bacon pecan cinnamon roll biscuits

Bacon pecan cinnamon roll biscuits | Homesick Texan

Around midnight, I heard a knock at my bedroom door. “Are the biscuits done?” asked my grandma. I told her the batch I had made after she went to bed were indeed ready to be reheated in the morning. When she didn’t reply, I got out of bed to see if she had heard me. I opened the door but she wasn’t there, so I went looking for her and found her in the kitchen pinching off a piece of biscuit from its storage container. She took a bite, smiled, and said, “I couldn’t wait until morning. These are oh, so good!”

When I travel, I usually prefer other people to cook. But when it comes to biscuits, I am always happy to bake up a batch. Most folks will have on hand the necessary ingredients and they are not difficult to prepare. Making biscuits is a fun thing and the small amount of effort always yields much joy.

Bacon pecan cinnamon roll biscuits | Homesick Texan

My basic biscuit recipe is my most popular, as it’s a fine vehicle for honey or homemade jam. But I also like to adapt with whatever I have on hand. This has led to jalapeƱo cheddar biscuits, sweet potato biscuits, and tomato, cheddar, and bacon biscuits. And that’s just the ones that I’ve shared here, as there are quite a few more variations that I’ve made. A biscuit, while superb on its own, is an excellent blank canvas.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Green chile scalloped onions

Green chile scalloped casserole | Homesick Texan

Spring is always a late arrival in New York. While I’ve been hearing about people in Texas enjoying the bounty of bluebonnets over the past few weeks, it’s remained cold and lifeless up here in the North. This week, however, the temperature rose and as I walked down the street I saw that the trees were finally in bloom. At last.

While the signs of a new season have been slow to arrive, due to the miracle of transportation we can now get produce from just about anywhere in the world. There is an argument for eating locally, but when it’s been cold and grey for the past few months and the farmers market is still only selling the same tired apples and winter squash, you take what you can get. So, when I saw a huge display of Texas sweet onions at my grocery the other day it was cause for celebration.

Texas sweet onions, also known as Texas 1015s, were developed in the 1980s by some onion-loving Aggies. They are related to other American sweet onions such as the Walla Walla of Washington and the Vidalia of Georgia, but I believe that Texas sweet onions are the best. And my store must also agree, as the display was prominently placed. I grabbed as many as I could.

Green chile scalloped casserole | Homesick Texan

My grandma used to grow onions back when she kept her garden, and they have long been family favorites. We slice them into salads, sprinkle them on top of enchiladas, and batter and fry big, wide onion rings. These are all fine applications, but as I was doing some research I came across a series of scalloped onion recipes in Texas newspapers from the early 1900s. The gist of each story was that scalloped onions are a mighty fine addition to the springtime table.

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