Kitchen Lit: Books I Can’t Live Without #1 — Texas Border Cookbook

July 3, 2010

Today’s post is brought to you by the inimitable W. Park Kerr and Norma Kerr, the founders of the El Paso Chile Company, and their book, The El Paso Chile Company Texas Border Cookbook, is a book I cannot live without.

Now, it’s Texan, and the portions reflect the same. If you prefer portion sizes more like people in, say, California or New England, just eyeball the number of servings the recipe tells you, double it, and that’s what it actually serves, most of the time.

I’m strongly considering petitioning them to permit me to do a cook-through-and-review of their book, that’s how well I like it … well, that and I’ve already made something like half of the recipes in it, so it’d be easy, except for acquiring some of the game in the Tame Game chapter. Hee.

But anyway! On to the book itself. Let me rave about the soups-and-stews chapter, which produces such deliciousness as El Paso Gazpacho with Garlic-Shrimp Salad; Cream of Green Chile Soup; Caldo Tlapeno; Ham, Corn, and Red Pepper Chowder; Pueblo-Style Lamb and Green Chile Stew, and Caldillo of Smoked Brisket with Green Chiles.

My goodness, I’ve made everything in the soup chapter except for the chicken broth-with-shrimp soup and the menudo. And they’ve all been fabulous.

Speaking of the Caldillo of Smoked Brisket. The Kerrs have a fantastic indoor-brisket recipe, which we’ve made many many times. In fact, we’re making brisket this weekend for the 4th, and that’s what prompted this post. But we’re not doing the indoor brisket. We’re doing their outdoor brisket on our new charcoal-gas hybrid grill. MMMM, smoke. Their fabulous brisket recipe can also be used to make their brisket-and-veggies salad, called salpícon, and OH, that is good too, with chipotle chiles and crunchy radishes.

I use the Kerr’s recipe to make red enchilada sauce the way it was intended, no tomatoes at all. Pure chiles. And it is so good, and so fiery hot, with a long, lingering burn. I don’t serve them with the fried egg as they suggest, because I already find their cheese version very dense. But oh so good.

It being a Texas cookbook, there’s an entire chapter devoted to chili. I’ve made three of the five recipes, and they’re all wonderful, but I’m particularly fond of the chile con carne verde.

I love the Kerrs’ frijoles de olla recipe, and it’s pretty much my go-to beans recipe. Veggie types will want to leave the bacon out … but bacon and beans are just meant to go together, as far as I can tell. The blueberry cornbread is excellent. The masa biscuits are to die for, and best served with homemade jam, warm and delicious right out of the oven. And of course, it includes a recipe for sopaipillas, which I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten to yet, but it’s a thing-I-must-do as far as I’m concerned.

I absolutely recommend this book without reservation. Get yourself a copy and try out some of the delicious things in it! And I’ll be reporting on our smoked brisket, sometime after the 4th of July. (;

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