Top Ten Texas Foods
boots’ Top Ten Texas Foods
Not exclusively limited to Texas, of course — but no self-respecting native Texan would pass up the opportunity to partake of these delicacies at their next family gathering. (Families do a lot of “gathering” in Texas). WARNING: Nothing on this list will work with any “diet”, so don’t even go there.
Number 10 — Whataburger Hamburgers
They don’t make ‘em til you get there. Whataburgers are fairly big hamburgers. If you find it’s too big for you, there’s always a Whataburger Jr. One of the few hamburgers I can eat without tasting it the rest of the day (if you know what I mean). BONUS: Make sure you order ketchup with your fries. They come in little “tubs”, so there’s none of that tearing-and-squirting nonsense. Plus, it’s really good ketchup.
Number 9 — Fried Okra
In Texas, we do two things with our vegetables: Cook them to death, or cover them in cornmeal batter and fry them. This is the latter. Native Texans do NOT dip their fried okra in ketchup (unless they’re 12 years old or younger). Offer us a plate of steamed okra and we’ll look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
Number 8 — Chicken Fried Steak
(with cream gravy)
You can find this delicacy all over Texas. DO NOT make the mistake of ordering it with brown gravy, that’s just sinful. You’ll need extra rolls or biscuits for sopping up the leftover gravy. Typically served with mashed potatoes (more cream gravy!) and — what else?! — fried okra.
Alternatively, there is the “Chicken Fried Steak Finger Basket”, which is the finger-food version of the above. Served with fries and Texas Toast.
Number 7 — Fried Catfish
Cornmeal rules everything! Farm-raised catfish, hushpuppies, fries and coleslaw — Mmmmmm, that’s good eatin’! Just about every Texan has their favorite “catfish place”. Mine is “Crazy Catfish”, but in a pinch, I’ll go to “Catfish King” out by the lake.
Number 6 — Pinto Beans and Cornbread
You’ll have to be patient for this meal. It starts the night before, as you’ll want to soak a pound of pinto beans in water overnight. After a good 8-10 hours in the crockpot (no Texas kitchen is without one), your beans are ready for seasoning. That would be salt. Some people toss in a ham hock or salt pork; that’s cool, too. If you’ve unexpectedly been bombarded with company, simply cook up some Minute Rice, and voila! you now have enough beans & rice for a small army. Best served with cornbread — make that jalapeno cornbread for the more daring.
Number 5 — Chili
This is where the men come into the kitchen. I’ve yet to meet a Texas man that didn’t have his own Chili recipe. I’m not a man, but I have my favorite chili recipe. It features ground beef, ranch-style beans and rotel tomatoes. Mama had a recipe that used a couple of packages of taco seasoning. They’re all good. We DO NOT put vegetables in our chili. Chili is no place for carrots and celery. Meat is not mandatory, but is preferred. I take that back; meat IS mandatory.
Number 4 — Tacos (homemade)
Pass by the “taco kits” with those preformed taco shells. Grab a pound of ground beef, a package of corn tortillas, and a package of taco seasoning. Go way over to the other side of the store and get some lettuce, tomatoes and grated yellow cheese (cheddar, american, monteray jack, whatever). You’ll need some good salsa, but since you’re in Texas, you already have a couple of jars in the fridge, so you can skip that item.
After you have your taco meat ready, toss a couple of the tortillas on a hot skillet to heat them properly. This is going to be messy… put a spoonful of the taco meat in the tortilla, add a pinch of lettuce, tomatoes and cheese and hold carefully as you eat it. Taco grease will drip down the side of your hand, but that’s part of the experience. You’ve never had better tacos.
Number 3 — Tamales (homemade)
This is a special treat, and sometimes hard to find. It helps if you know someone who knows someone who cooks tamales by hand. You place your order by proxy, and it’s delivered to you in a brown paper sack, by the dozen. It’s usually around $8-$10 a dozen. If you don’t get sick — then you’ve found your tamale connection!
Number 2 — Sweet Iced Tea
Traditionally, it’s Lipton (family-size teabags). We make it by the pitcher (2 quarts or more). Sun tea is for hippies. You add 1 cup of sugar to 2 quarts of tea to get the perfect sweetness. We put the teabag in the water before boiling (not after). We steep it for a good 5 minutes before mixing. Serve over ice, and store the pitcher in the fridge. Sweet iced tea goes with everything from scrambled eggs to steak to sock-it-to-me cake.
Number 1 — BBQ
Brisket, ribs, chicken, burgers, franks, sausage, hotlinks… We love our BBQ! Men dominate this field, though I’ve met several women who have perfected this art. Whether it’s cooked on a small hibachi, a Webber grill, or one one of those gigantic propane-powered monstrosities, your neighbors will be salivating and climbing the back fence to get to your cookout. It isn’t officially Summer until you’ve smelled the first BBQ of the season cooking on your block. Some people make their own BBQ sauce, but if you don’t have your own recipe, don’t fret. Every grocery store in Texas offers no fewer than 20 varieties of BBQ sauce. You can choose spicy, sweet, spicy & sweet, maple, honey, jalapeno… Known brands like Kraft, unknown names like “Peggy Jean’s Authentic Texas Boot-stompin’ BBQ Sauce”. Serve with a vat (yes, a vat) of potato salad. And maybe a loaf of Sunbeam bread… or Mrs. Baird’s. Sweet Iced Tea and Dr. Pepper should be available for all guests.
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