Writer Bob McCullough takes Texas Highways readers on a culinary trek through Castroville (February 2014 issue), where Alsatian influences extend beyond pastries such as stollen and kugelhopf to regional specialties like parisa, a raw meat dish similar to steak tartare.

Monte Bippert, who helps run Castroville’s popular Le Chat Noir restaurant, says that every family has its own recipe for parisa, and that proportions of beef, cheese, and spices vary wildly according to taste. Some families use other varieties of cheese in place of American cheese, too. Here’s a basic recipe you can use as a springboard. Use the freshest and best-quality meat available.

  • 1 pound very lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces grated American cheese
  • 8 ounces very finely chopped onion
  • 3 finely chopped serrano peppers
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lime

Mix beef, cheese, onion, and peppers. Add salt, pepper, and lime juice, and mix to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, then serve on crackers with beer.

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