In the December 2012 issue, James Beard Award-winning author Robb Walsh explores a concept he calls the Creolization of Texas cuisine, meaning the blending of ethnic influences with long-established comfort foods. We printed Walsh’s recipe for Steak Tikka (known in some circles as Pakistani fajitas), but here are two classics that every Texas chef should have in his or her repertoire, a basic chile con queso and chicken-fried steak. Thanks to Robb Walsh for the recipes!
Crockpot Chile con Queso
It’s easy to make and serve chile con queso in a crockpot. You can ladle small amounts into a serving bowl as needed while the rest stays warm.
Makes about 2 cups
- 1 pound Velveeta cheese, cut into pieces
- ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 tsp. chili powder
Combine the cheeses in a crockpot and turn it on low for an hour or until the cheese melts. Add the Rotel tomatoes and chiles. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
Southern-style Chicken-Fried Steak
CFS aficionados wax poetic about the crunchy crust. It should look just like the coating on a piece of Southern fried chicken.
Serves 6 to 12
For the seasoned flour:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 T. salt
- 1 T. finely ground pepper
- 1 T. onion powder
- 1 T. garlic powder
- 2 T. chili powder
For the steaks:
- 12 tenderized eye-of-round steaks (about 3 pounds total)
- 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute evaporated milk or whole milk)
- 1 beaten egg
- Peanut oil
Combine the seasoned flour ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour some of the flour into a pie plate. Combine milk and egg in another pie plate.
Pour oil in a deep cast iron skillet to a depth of one inch, and turn the heat to medium-high. While the oil is heating, dredge each steak in the flour mixture, then dip the meat in the milk/egg mixture, then again in the seasoned flour. The steak should be dry on the outside. Allow the battered steaks to sit on a rack for ten minutes before frying to help the batter adhere to the steak.
Using a candy thermometer, monitor the oil until it reaches 370° F. Slide a couple of steaks into the oil—don’t crowd them. The temperature of the oil will fall when the meat is added; adjust the burner to keep the temperature around 340° F. The steaks are done when the batter is crisp and brown and the meat is cooked through, about five minutes. Drain the cooked steaks on paper towels and hold in a warm oven until all the batches are done. Serve with the gravy of your choice.