I am not one to have a big Cinco de Mayo celebration, but I can get into the foodie spirit. Especially with all the regional cooking I have done. Being in the heart of Tex-Mex, how can I avoid the Mexican influence.
I was really excited to make my own Chili powder for Texas River Chili. I am sure you have “chili powder” in your pantry. It’s not that hard to blend your own and deepen the flavor of your chili. First I went to the store and I bought a few packages of dried chilis. These would be in the Mexican aisle of the grocery store, you probably walk by all the time. They hang out with the corn husks (for tamales). I bought three different chilis (chilis are the dried form of peppers). I then toasted them in a dry skillet over medium heat till they began to release an aroma and pop a little. I let them cool, removed the stems and seeds and broke them up. I then put them into my spice grinder (it’s the same as a coffee grinder, only I use it for whole spices ONLY- you wouldn’t want cumin flavored coffee would you?)
TEXAS RIVER CHILI
1 lb cubed meat (chuck, “stew meat”)
1 Tbsp oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 c. beef stock
1 c. crushed tomato
1 tsp cumin
2-3 Tbsp. chili powder
Heat oil in a large pot. Brown meat in small batches (don’t over crowd the pot, or the meat will steam, not brown). Remove meat. Add onion, and garlic. Cook till tender/transparent. Add beef back into pot, seasonings, stock and tomatoes. Simmer for 2 hours. If chili becomes too dry add more stock. Chili should be thick, but still lose.
Tamales are another story. They are VERY labor intensive. First you make a filling, soak the corn husks, then you make the masa. Next you form the tamales with the masa and filling and wrap it in a soft corn husk and set them aside. Then they steam for 30 minutes. This is not a project you start at night (I learned the hard way- not reading the recipe all the way through). But they taste so good. Here they are with guacamole, corn,hominy and lima beans, and salsa.