Tex-Mex is a bright, new tome set to come out later this month, by Ford Fry and Jessica Dupuy. It opens to a spread that sets the tone: a glorious battered, fried chile relleno, sprinkled with cotija cheese and set against a fiery crimson sauce that is the color of chile de arbol.
There are exactly five references to Dallas institutions—four current restaurants and one (Café San Miguel) that is defunct. Diners will recognize El Fenix, Avila’s, Cuquita’s, and Mariano’s Hacien-da. (Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio all have more. Consider that. Discuss.) But really, it’s a drool-worthy book for the home cook.
The first part of the subtitle—Traditions, Innovations, and Comfort Foods from Both Sides of the Border—is hinted at early: the next spread involves fresh-masa tortillas plopped on a tortilla press, ready to hit the comal. (Photography by Johnny Autry is vivid and drool-worthy.)
Chapters cover breakfast, tacos, enchiladas, tamales, seafood, drinks, and desserts—migas and chilaquiles to charro beans, pickled jalapenos, and horchata. There are recipes for taco fillings from carne guisado to beef picadillo; classics like spicy pork tamales and enchiladas suisas; and contemporary spins like oysters with cilantro chimichurri butter.
I want to know what that queso recipe tastes like. And how really to do asada and al carbon.
If you love a meal that ends with churros, pralines, and rice pudding, you’re set. (But there are also paleta recipes, including avocado-coconut-lime.) Does it finish off with recipes for the iconic libations, the margarita and paloma? Of course, it does.
Note for the nerdy: As far as classic Tex-Mex history goes, there is a reference to El Fenix for its “guacamole salad” and the debt that we owe El Chico’s Café for pico de gallo, which found its in-ception in El Chico’s pico frio (who knew?). Which city popularized the puffy taco? San Antonio. The combo plate? The same. The cheese enchilada made with processed American cheese? We have Houston to thank for that.