We eat a lot of alligator.

The state of Louisiana is our source and with a gator population north of 1.5 million there’s plenty to be had in the meat markets that dot the western prairies of the Pelican State. Louisiana has had a controlled wild harvest in place since 1972.

Back when the harvest got started, it was limited to the southwestern part of the state and only twelve hundred creatures were taken. Nowadays the hunt is statewide and skilled woodsmen take over thirty two thousand of the ornery beasts per annum. Pole hunting is prohibited and the majority of the animals are taken via the time-honored line catching technique. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some old school Cajuns out there with a spotlight and a high powered rifle.

Alligator is delicious.

Now that Hatch Chile season has arrived we’ve been in the kitchen nightly, tinkering with recipes to feature the delicious, seasonal pepper. Like this one:

Smoked Alligator Enchiladas With Roasted Hatch Chiles

Ingredients

2 lb Chiles, Hatch, roasted, chopped

1 lb Alligator, smoked, chopped

2 lb Tomatilla, roasted

1 12 oz Can, Milk, Evaporated

1 qt Stock, chicken

1 lb Cheese, Colby/Jack, shredded

18 each Tortillas corn

Method

* Pulse tomatillos and Hatch Chiles in food processor til almost smooth

* Bring chicken stock to boil

* Add evaporated milk, return to boil, reduce

* Combine with tomatillo mixture

* Cook tortillas in hot fat til right at crispy

Now let’s build the casserole

* Coat 9″ x 14″ casserole pan with olive oil

* Pour a skift of tomatillo sauce in bottom of pan

* Add 6 corn tortillas

* Place enough chopped gator to cover tortillas

* Drizzle with tomatillo sauce

* Cover with cheeses

* Repeat order above til casserole is finished making sure top layer is cheese

* Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes

* Let casserole sit up for a few minutes before slicing

Voila!

A few nights ago a friend was in town visiting from Arizona when we made this recipe.

“What smells so good”

“I’m making a pan of gator enchiladas”

Shrieks

“GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK IN TEXAS…NOBODY SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT IN ARIZONA”

Texas forever

Cooking notes:

* Garnish with a hefty dollop of crema Salvadorena.

* I normally use heavy cream to unify the sauce, but I was out so I utilized evaporated milk instead.

* Evaporated milk is regular milk that has been reduced by sixty percent. It’s a classic casserole ingredient used by housewives all over the Deep South.

* A good side dish for this one dish meal would be Pinto Beans With Jalapenos and Bacon http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2011/6/7/Deluxe-Side-Dishes-For-Central-Texas-Barbecue-Pinto-Beans-With-Jalapenos-and-Bacon

and/or Cajun Green Onion Rice Pilaf http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/2011/1/15/How-To-Make-Cajun-Green-Onion-Rice

I had no intention of posting this recipe but it came out so good it would be a crime to not share it.

Confession.

I’m a Hatch Chile pepper hoarder. Every August, when the Hatch Chiles come in season, I eat them every single day til near the end of availability. Then, right when they’re about to vanish, I buy fifteen to twenty pounds and roast them to store in the freezer. It’s a fifteen year tradition in my house.

Recently it dawned on me that it’s almost Hatch season again, so I rooted around in my freezer til I found 2 bags with 6 peppers apiece in them. First in, first out. Number one rule in any kitchen.

Time to cook.

I had a pound of brisket from Perez Barbecue, as well as a couple quarts of chicken stock, so I was pretty well set for basic ingredients.

Here’s my recipe for Smoked Brisket and Hatch Chile Stew.

Ingredients

1 lb Brisket, smoked

12 each, Chiles, Hatch, roasted, chopped

2 lbs Potatoes, new, quartered

2 quarts Stock, chicken {if you don’t have it, make some instant with Better Than Bouillon}

2 each Onions, Texas Sweet, sliced

1 T. Worcestershire {incorporated this on a lark and it added a lot of body to the broth}

Method

* Fire kettle on stove top with stock and potatoes

* Slice onions and brown nicely in separate pan

* When potatoes are nearly done, add chopped brisket, chiles, onions and worcestershire

* At this point I made a slurry with a quarter cup of masa mix to thicken the stew. Alternately you could remove 2 cups of potatoes and mash them, then return to kettle, or make a slurry with corn starch. I like the nuttiness of masa harina golden corn flour and utilize it in lots of Tex Mex recipes

* Turn kettle to low and let quietly simmer for an hour til flavors have married

Voila! Sometimes you hit the kitchen and work with what you have and end up with a dynamite recipe.

Bon Appetit Y’all

more Tex Mex recipes http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Authentic-Tex-Mex-Recipes

https://twitter.com/RLReevesJr

With night time temperatures dipping down into the 50’s it’s looking like the brutal Austin winter is now upon us. Which means it’s time to make a kettle of chili.

We actually make it year round as it is one of our favorite foods of all time.

With an extensive repertoire of chilis in our arsenal we often have to take the sofa for a spin while we meditate on which chili needs to be implemented on which particular day. Continue Reading

Fideo has a thousand mothers, each claiming primacy. One mujere insists that tomatoes are the most crucial ingredient while another claims that the inclusion of them makes the soup “not fideo” but indeed, the dish must include tomatillas to be considered part of the canon..

We’re late comers to the sopa de fideo tradition. It wasn’t until the late 90’s when a torrid affair found us in Brownsville Texas and at the table of a bona fide culinary genius that we were indoctrinated into the tradition. Efiginea was born in Mexico but has lived in USA for over 50 years. She’s raised 9 children and has countless grandkids and great grandkids. In a family filled with good cooks, this septuagenarian is still the Queen Bee.

When we’re in the presence of superior chefs one course of action must be taken. Out comes the pad and pen and the note taking commences. As Efiginea bustles about in the kitchen we scribble furiously hoping against all hope that we’ll be able to create a reasonable facsimile of this vaunted recipe at some point in the future.

Here’s Sope de Fideo, inspired by Efiginea of Brownsville Texas

Ingredients

1 6 oz packet vermicelli noodles

1 bunch celery

2 each 12 oz cans tomatoes, whole, peeled [ pureed or roughly chopped as to your preference]

1 roasting hen

2 each Onion, yellow, sweet, chopped

8 oz Mushrooms, sliced

1 Bunch, Green onions, giant, chopped

6 each Chiles, Hatch, chopped [poblano would be more traditional]

2 each Chiles, Cayenne, chopped [jalapeno would be more traditional]

4 each Leaves, Bay

1 T. Peppercorns, Black

Salt

Method

* In large kettle submerge chicken in cold, salted water with bay leaves and peppercorns

* Bring to boil, reduce to simmer

* Cook one hour or til chicken is done

* Remove hen from water, reserve water

* Shred meat off bone, reserve

* Return carcass to water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cook 2 hours

* Remove carcass, discard along with bay and pepper, you now have your chicken stock

* In separate pan cook onions on high heat for 15 minutes

* Reduce heat, cook for 45 minutes more

* Add celery and chiles cook 15 minutes

* Add green onions and mushrooms, cook 10 minutes

* Add onion, celery,chile, mushroom mixture to chicken stock along with tomatoes, vermicelli and chopped chicken

* Simmer everything on stovetop til vermicelli puffs up in broth

* Adjust flavor with salt

* Intense deliciousness is now at the ready

* Buen Provecho

Cooking notes:

1] I later discovered that it is traditional to fry the noodles in oil or butter prior to their being simmered in the broth. Efiginea did not follow this technique.

2] Also, a lot of fideo cooks add pinto beans, potatoes or both to their fideo. Efiginea added neither to hers.

3] There is also the phenomenon of fideo tacos where the fideo is cooked “down” to the point where the soup is viscous, the noodles are then ladled onto tortillas and served as tacos.

4] Typical garnishes for this soup include avocado, crema, lime juice, chopped fresh onion, cilantro, hard grating cheese and fried tortilla strips

5] There is also the phenomenon of fideo casserole, an intriguing dish if ever there was one and definitely a subject for another post in the future

How do you make your fideo?

Did you grow up eating it or are you new to the canon?

Over in East Texas my friend Amanda’s daddy is having trouble with a sounder of wild boar hogs on his farm.

It’s nothing a Winchester 30.30 can’t fix.

Which is how we came to have a pig brought into Austin for our latest effort on the big brick pit. The small hog is taken out while he is busy mowing down on a stand of sweet corn.

The high velocity round drops him in his tracks, he’s field dressed and brought up to the old farm house where he gets blocked down, wrapped and put in the freezer.

There’s only one girl on our cooking team and she decides it’s her turn to fire up the big brick pit and have a go at cooking this boar.

After 5 hours over a few hunks of old pecan, the hog is good and ready. Try as we might, the crowd of a dozen or so eaters can’t finish all the meat so we package up the rest, divvy it up and make our way to the house.

We’re always looking for an excuse to make enchiladas and with a pound or so of good wood-smoked boar hog in the fridge that’s exactly what we do.

Here’s our recipe for Smoked Wild Boar Enchiladas in Chile Arbol Sauce.

Ingredients

1 lb Wild Boar Hog, smoked, chopped

8 each, Chile, Arbol, dried

1 each, Giant Green Onions, bunch

2 c. Stock, Pork

1 c. Cream, Heavy, Whipping

20 each, Tortillas, Corn, from a Mexican grocery that does a brisk business to ensure freshness

1 lb, Cheese, Grated, Jack although a lot of Tex Mex cooks swear by Longhorn Cheddar

Method: Part I

* Bring pork stock to boil w/ Chile Arbol

* Simmer just below boil for 20 minutes or til chiles are softened

* Place stock and chiles in blender and run on high til chiles are totally pureed

* Add green onions, blend 10 seconds more

* Pour into saucepan, add cream, bring to boil, be careful as sauce will try to climb out of pan

* Simmer for 15 minutes or til a good thick consistency of sauce is reached

Method: Part 2

* Heat cast iron skillet on high til hot

* Using small amount of oil cook each tortilla for ten seconds per side

* Make stack of cooked tortillas

* Pour skift of creamy chile seca sauce in bottom of casserole pan [ we use a 9×14 Corning Ware]

* Roll 2 T of chopped wild boar meat into tortilla forming a tube

* Place in casserole

* Repeat til casserole is filled with little tubes of stuffed tortillas

* Pour chile seca sauce over the assemblage then top with grated cheese

* Bake at 250 degrees for 30 minutes

* Place under broiler and cook til cheese is nicely browned

This casserole really needs no side dishes but if you’re of a mind a kettle of borracho beans would pair nicely.

In the dead of Summer in Austin, Texas we drink Pearl Light like it’s going out of style

This would be a good beer to pair with these enchiladas

Help cure the pestilence of wild boars in Texas by transforming them into delicious Tex Mex cuisine

More authentic Tex Mex recipes here

http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Authentic-Tex-Mex-Recipes

https://twitter.com/#!/RLReevesJr

Austin Texas is rife with restaurants serving huevos rancheros.

Our former favorite; La Mexicana, the 24 hour taqueria and panaderia on South First Street’s downhill slide has been so steady and frightening that we’ve had to branch out around town.

We still daydream about their $3.25 rendition from a few years back. Extra cheese, extra bacon? No charge. We’ve found some good versions (Tamale House, La Reyna, Habanero Mexican Cafe) but none could stand up to La Mexicana’s clarion version from yesteryear.

So we hit the kitchen.

The following is the fruit of a week or so of efforts to make a pluperfect huevos rancheros

Ingredients

1 12 oz can tomatoes, whole, peeled

1 Bunch, Onions, Green, white part, chopped, reserve green part for garnish

2 each Chiles, Jalapeno, chopped (roasted if you like)

2 each Chiles, Serrano, chopped (roasted if you like)

2 each Eggs

2 each Tortillas

Salt to taste

Method

* Place all ingredients,except eggs, in blender

* Puree til smooth

* Pour contents of blender into saucepan that has been heated with a skift of oil

* Cook at medium heat for ten or so minutes til sauce thickens and begins to stick to pan

* Salt to taste

* Reserve

* Fry eggs in cast iron pan flipping once if so desired (we like them over medium)

* Turn onto plate

* Pour as much ranchero sauce as you like over eggs, refrigerate the rest

* Enjoy with warm tortillas

Cooking Notes:

* Grate cheese over sauce if so desired, we like queso Salvadorena or a good sharp cheddar

* Serve with warm tortillas, home fries, refried beans, crispy chopped bacon and perhaps a dollop of Mexican crema

* You may garnish with chopped green part of green onions

* If you’re so inclined you may want to substitute chipotle chile pepper for the serrano and jalapeno

Cooking time start to finish is 20 minutes

Enjoy

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My Venmo is @Russell-Reeves-6 if you’d like to make a small contribution

During the research period for my piece on Charles Elmer Doolin, the man who brought the Frito into popular culture, I developed a powerful craving for a Frito Pie.

I can’t think of a single restaurant in Austin where you can walk in and order one so I began crafting a recipe that would be worthy of the sobriquet “Ultimate Frito Pie Recipe.”

The very concept of Frito Pie has a thousand mothers, each claiming primacy.

For every acolyte of Daisy Dean Doolin and her San Antonio creation someone else will firmly maintain the true mother of the pie to be Teresa Hernandez of Woolworth’s in Santa Fe New Mexico. Apparently there’s a splinter group from Eastern Tennessee who’ve staked their claim as well but it seems specious at best.

Ingredients

1 lb Chili, Texas Red, recipe

9.25 oz Fritos, Large bag, original recipe

8 oz Cheese, Cheddar, Longhorn, shredded

8 oz, Crema Salvadorena or Mexicano, or sour cream if crema is unavailable

1 each Onion, Small, Texas sweet, chopped

Method:

* Toast Fritos in oven til warm

* Divide into four bowls

* Ladle warm chili over Fritos

* Top with shredded cheddar, onions and crema

The secret to the recipe is obviously the knock out punch of a big kettle of slow cooked Texas Red.

At the county fairs and National Guard Armory snack bars where Frito Pies are regularly available the typical first step of their creation is the opening of a can of chili.

Tasting notes:

* If you can’t get your hands on Longhorn Cheddar you may substitute Colby cheese

* Texas Sweet Onions are labeled 1015 in the grocery store bins

* Mexican grocery stores are good sources for crema, a superior version of sour cream

Bon Appetit Y’all

Curious about the life of the man who invented Fritos? link

A friend of mine likes to play a game when we’re all sitting around drinking and playing records called “What’s your million dollar idea?”

On one particularly festive evening someone postulated that they’d like to open a Mexican restaurant that had side dishes that weren’t rice and beans.

We volleyed that one around for awhile with folks talking about how good enchiladas would go with green beans, fried corn, mashed potatoes and myriad other non-Mexican options.

I’m always writing recipes so I really took this evening to heart once I got home and sobered up a bit.

Here’s my recipe for Mexican Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:

3 lbs Potatoes, Russet or Kenebec

1 lb Poblano Chiles, Roasted, chopped

4 oz Butter, melted

8 oz Crema Mexicana, this is the thick, delicious cousin to sour cream

1/3 c. Milk, evaporated,warmed

1.5 T. Cumin, always better if you toast the seeds and grind them into powder

Method

* Peel potatoes

* Cut each potato into 1/6ths

* Rinse thoroughly

* Steam potatoes for 15 minutes

* Remove from steamer and rinse with cold water

[ cooking note: this removes some of the starch and prevents the potatoes from becoming gummy ]

* Steam for 15 minutes more or til potatoes are tender

* Remove from steamer and place in large mixing bowl

* Take a wire whip and beat potatoes as you add the butter, chiles, milk and cumin [some folks like to use a potato ricer or masher but nothing beats a heavy wire whip to make your potatoes creamy]

* Adjust flavor with salt

* I like to sprinkle them with a little ground chile arbol as a finishing touch

Voila! Delicious Mexican Mashed Potatoes are at the ready. These make an outstanding side dish to any number of mains but they also offer an intriguing filling for vegetarian enchiladas.

Pale, wan vegetarians need as much love as the omnivores of the world can give them. Shake them free from their listless torpor with a big pan of Mexican Mashed Potato Enchiladas and tell them scrumptiouschef sent you.

Getting a great bowl of guacamole in Austin Texas is not easy. With over two hundred Mexican restaurants in town, all of them serving a “version”, you would be forgiven for thinking our city is rife with perfectly made, delicious guacamole.

You would be wrong.

The main problem most places in town suffer from is that they make a giant bowl of the stuff in the morning and just dip down in it over the course of the day.

Some less than savory restaurateurs actually introduce sour cream or mayonnaise into the guacamole as an extender. I dearly love both of these products but I don’t want them profaning my avocados.

There’s only one restaurant that I know of in Austin that makes it per order. El Zunzal over on Calle Street in East Austin. When you place your order an avocado is skinned, transformed and brought to table whereupon it is set upon by the ravenous eaters.

Although I love nothing more than a slow, difficult recipe it’s simply not necessary in this instance.

Here’s my simple, easy formula for making a delicious batch of scratch guacamole Ingredients

2 each Avocados, Haas is the dominant cultivar in these parts

1 each Shallot, medium, minced

2 each Lime, juiced

1 t. Coriander, ground

1 T. Salt, Kosher or sea

Method

* Cut avocados in half and scoop out flesh

* Place in medium, wooden bowl

* Pour lime juice over flesh

* Roughly mash

* Add Shallot, Coriander and Salt

* Mash more

Voila!

Delicious guacamole is at the ready.

This is a really basic version but it allows the flavor of the avocado to star the show.

Other items one may consider adding are: Chopped tomatoes, Minced cilantro, chopped jalapeno chile peppers, black pepper, hard boiled eggs [favored by Salvadorans]or perhaps finely minced Texas Sweet Onion [the ones labeled 1015 in the market].

Of course to take your guacamole to the next level you’ll need a couple quarts of Peanut oil and a big cast iron Dutch kettle so you can fry your own totopos from scratch.

It’s incredible what a difference this makes. I like to run by Fiesta Mart, score a 30 bag of fresh corn tortillas, cut them into 1/4ths and make my own totopos from scratch.

Lightly salted, sputtering with fat and bathed in freshly mashed avocados, this makes one of the finest Tex Mex appetizers you can dream of.

Bon Appetit

scrumptiouschef

Real carnitas are abundant in Austin Texas. They’re not fancy, no frippery is needed to construct the dish. All you need is pork, salt and maybe pepper if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.

I used to use Chef Miguel Ravago’s recipe from his cookbook “Cocina de la Familia” that uses Dr. Pepper in the roasting process.

His method makes some very fine carnitas but it is unnecessarily fancy. Country style pork ribs are generally my meat of choice. I like to start with about ten pounds of meat as you’ll be surprised how fast they get eaten. While it’s easy enough to run down to one of Austin’s dozens of Mexican markets and score a pound of prepared carnitas for 6 bucks, I like to hit the kitchen and make them from scratch.

Ingredients

10 lbs Ribs, Pork, Country style

Salt, Kosher or Sea

Pepper, Black, Fresh Ground

Oil, Peanut is best

Method

* Slather ribs lightly with oil

* Coat generously with good salt and perhaps pepper

* Place in baking dish

* Roast at 200 degrees for 4 hours or til the meat is spoon tender

* Drain fat that has roasted off the meat into metal bowl

* Place bowl in fridge, the next day remove fat cake from surface, it provides a delicious cooking medium for skillet potatoes

* There will be what appears to be some brown pudding in the bottom of the bowl, save this pork jus and put it in with your next kettle of beans

Your carnitas are now ready to eat. The 200 degree part is important. This is a good temperature to ensure your meat is meltingly tender.

When I’m eating them out of the fridge I hack them up with my chef knife, get my cast iron scorchingly hot and toss the pork in the pan. Once the flesh is crispy the carnitas are ready for tacos, tortas or whatever purpose you’ve deemed is the best way to get them in your gullet.