Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tex-Mex Cuisine

Tex-Mex food is a cuisine that has evolved over the centuries since the Spanish conquered Mexico then ventured north to explore Texas. Hispanic people were living in Texas as early as the 1700's. In the mid 1800's there was a huge influx of Germans who settled in the Texas Hill Country and in the central Texas region bringing their culture and food. After the Civil War ranching started to flourish bringing Texans love of beef and barbecues. 
In the introduction to the cookbook Lone Star Eats by Terry Thompson-Anderson, the editor sums up the diversity of foods found in Texas by saying," The way we eat in Texas reflects the sum of all our parts."  
She was referring to how the geography and the diverse ethnic groups that have settled in the state have dictated the types of food available from coastal regions, to Rio Grande Valley to Hill Country to Central Texas Regions.  
I splurged and bought the cookbook Lone Star Eats. It is a huge volume of over 500 recipes that has been gathered from some 65 Texas cookbooks. Will certainly keep me busy exploring Tex-Mex cuisine. The following recipe started out with one from the book, then it morphed to one from Southern Living and lastly ended up being this one. 
FYI:I had never thought of making Mexican lasagna with corn tortillas instead of pasta. I really liked the change.

 Mexican Lasagna
Cook’s note: This recipe has several options.
There are a variety of chiles to choose from depending on your palate for “hotness”. Jalapeno and Serrano chiles are fresh. You can moderate the heat of fresh chiles by removing seeds and the whitish veins inside the chiles before using them. Poblano chile is peeled before used. When the poblano chile is dried it is called ancho chile. Jalapeno chiles when dried and smoked are called chipotle chiles.
Toppings can be varied using combination of chopped lettuce/tomatoes/sour cream
Salas can be varied depending on level of “hotness” mild, medium, hot
Kidney beans or black beans
The following recipe calls for using a 9 inch pan and serves 4-6
·        1-LB. ground beef
·        ½-3/4 cup onions diced
·        ½ green pepper diced
·        ½ red pepper diced
·        2 cloves of garlic minced
·        optional chiles
·        ½-1 TB. chili powder
·        1 tsp. dried oregano
·        ¼ tsp. cumin
·        1-16 oz. jar of salsa
·        ½ can refried beans
·        8 oz of enchilada sauce
·        1 can of corn, drained and rinsed
·        optional black olives
·        1 can black beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed
·        3-4 cups Mexican cheese (package found in dairy section)
·        1 package of yellow corn tortillas (6 inch size) you will need 10
·        optional chopped tomatoes and lettuce
·        Brown ground beef with onions, red/green peppers, garlic
·        Drain and add mixture back to fry pan
·        Add spices, salsa, enchilada sauce, refried beans, corn, beans
·        Cook on low heat for 10 minutes uncovered
·        Grease 9 inch pan and place 4 tortillas in bottom of pan overlapping-to fill in spaces cut another tortilla into 4ths and use that one
·        Place half of the meat mixture on top of tortillas and ½ of the cheese
·        Repeat with another layer ending with cheeses, black olives can be added at this time
·        Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35 minutes-remove foil and cook 5 minutes longer
·        Let set 15 minutes before cutting
·        Can serve with chopped tomatoes/lettuce/sour cream on the side

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