Two weeks ago I took my mid-term. I love how organized this Chef is. We each pulled one of two recipes randomly for the midterm, the class before the exam. Then on exam night we each again pulled times for when we would begin. Everyone had a staggered time for cooking and presenting. While not cooking, dishes were done. I pulled Pecan Crusted Catfish and Succotash. It was a quick dish to prepare, but lots of technique used. I pulled the last time slot, and unfortunately there was only 1 catfish filet left and no hominy for the succotash. I only had to present one plate instead of two.
After the midterm we moved onto Texas and Tex-Mex and the Cuisine of the Southwest and Rocky Mts. There is some overlap between the two, but they also have their own distinct cuisine and influences.
Texas is a state as large as all of New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois combined. It has served under 6 flags and reflects a culture of cowboys, rodeos, and ten gallon hats. It is truly one of the only native cuisines to the US. Tex-Mex merges Texas and Mexican cultures that originally was regarded as “poor man’s” Mexican food based on corn, pinto beans, tomatoes and chiles. Cattle, chuchwagon cooking and Lone Star chili also come to mind. The regions of Texas are; Deep East (influence on plantation owners and creole/cajun cooking), Central (German, Pole and Czech influence and origin of Chicken Fried Steak which is an adaption of Scnitzel), West (ranchers and wild game), South (farming- over 40 crops are produced in Texas, the onion is Texas’s top crop) and lastly Gulf Coast (Galveston being a major port, seafood mainly shrimp and oysters).
Dishes found in this area; Barbacoa, Burritos, Caldo de Res, Chicken Fried Steak, Chiles (roasted form of peppers jalapeno/chipolte poblano/ancho), Chili (texas chili has no beans and no tomatoes), Cilantro, Cornbread, Escabeche, Fajitas, Beans, Jicama, Salsa, Tortillas.
The Southwest and Rocky Mt. area includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The contributions to this cuisine came from the Native Americans , Hispanics, the Spanish and the Pioneers (miners, cowboys and frontier families). The Native Americans in this area, Navajo and Hopi lived in pueblos along the Rio Grande. They had developed a sophisticated irrigation system for farming. Again we find the “three sisters” of food; the sacred corn, heirloom beans and squash. The Spanish in 1540 brought livestock to the area, sheep, cattle and hogs. In 1820 Mexico gained independence from the Spanish and the Oregon Trail opened in 1842, the CA goldrush, and the Mormons in 1846 brought lots of pioneers west. The railroad continued to expand and the beef industry boomed. The pioneers lived off sourdough, salt pork, wild game and fish, and what could be foraged from the forest. Chuckwagons came out loaded with flour, dried beans, coffee, bacon, salt and vinegar.
Ingredients and dishes from the area include: Buffaloberry, Chokecherry, Colorado Lamb, Trout, Dandelion, Empanadas, Jerky, Buffalo, Elk, Wild Boar, Navajo Fry Bread, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Mexican Oregano, pepitas, Pine Nuts, Potatoes, Sangria and Squash Blossoms.