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Ina Garten Butchers Tex Mex

I had Ina on while I was cleaning a mess of shrimp to be fried. Her friend made an "award winning" Tex Mex chili that was full of beans. Chili with beans will not be allowed at any self respecting chili cook off in my home state of Texas. Maybe she won a cook off in the Hamptons. Later on she did a pink grapefruit margarita, call it something else, this is not a margarita. Then there was the fish taco. Nothing against fish tacos, but I never saw one on a menu until a few years ago. This is a Baja, SoCal dish, not Tex Mex. Finally, a tequila lime grilled chicken. Whatever. Make some chile rellenos using poblanos, a good beef enchilada, some nachos with cheese, fajita meat, chorizo, or crabmeat and some jalapenos, and not a pile of crap on top, just a few ingredients. Simple Tex Mex is a wonderful meal, just don't try and sell me this stuff as Tex Mex. As for the shimp, the demise of the Gulf of Mexico is overstated. I'm still able to get 16-20 count, wild Texas shrimp for 5.99 to 8.99 a pound, depending on the sales. I do hope they get this mess cleaned up soon, however.

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  1. When TV cooking personalities who hail from the NE Atlantic area presume to show us how to cook Mex, the scenario can be pretty hilarious. I remember one such person informing us that "quesadillas frequently contain cheese." [Duh, lady -- if it doesn't include queso, it ain't a quesadilla.]

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sharuf

      I'd suggest looking at the Wiki article on Quesadilla to see the variety of ways in which the word is used. Yes, the word does derive from 'queso', cheese, but that does not mean it hasn't been applied to items without cheese in Mexico or neighboring countries. i think, that on this matter, Ina has done more research.

      1. re: Sharuf

        *LOL*. The queso line -- that's funny. "Here's some refritos. Sometimes they put beans in." "I'd like to show you this guacamole, but this time for a neat change I'm using avocados!"

        1. re: Sharuf

          Bittman had an unintentionally hilarious article a few years ago in which was clear that he didn't know an enchilada from a taco from a burrito, or was it a tamale.

          1. re: Neecies

            I think you are referring to his July 2006 column on tacos, in which he writes
            "You take a tortilla and you put some stuff in it and you eat it; that’s a taco. (If you roll the tortilla, it’s a burrito, which appears to have been created in the American Southwest; if you layer food on top of it, it’s an enchilada; if you crisp it up and use it as a kind of plate, it’s a tostada; "

            But a quick chow search will turn up one or more threads on 'enchiladas - rolled or stacked (flat)'. That is, one (regional) style of enchilada does consist of layers of flat tortillas with fillings between. Dipping the tortilla in the chile sauce before 'filling' is a better enchilada distinctive.

          2. re: Sharuf

            Actually, in Mexico City, quesadillas do not necessarily have cheese in them. There's nothing redundant about asking for your quesadilla "con queso".

            Here a quesadilla is corn dough pressed flat and griddled on a comal, then folded over any of a number of possible fillings, not necessarily including cheese. Or sometimes the dough is sealed up like an empanada and deep fried.

            I'm developing a hunch that, for a laugh, Mexicans have deliberately contrived to make all absolute statements about Mexican food false.

          3. I blinked when I noted on the tv guide that Ina was doing Tex-Mex. Why does the Food Network set up their personalities like that? That's not the kind of cooking she does, left to her own devices. I wouldn't have gotten close to that show with a 10-foot pole, and I'm a big Ina fan!

            3 Replies
            1. re: ChefJune

              Like when Paula Deen cooked Pad Thai. PAD THAI! (Y'all)

              1. re: pdxgastro

                that is exactly what I first thought about, Paula's bad thai. Ina does make a mean sagaponek corn pudding to go with her tex mex tequila lime chicken. :)

                1. re: pdxgastro

                  I had to scurry off and look up this tragedy, and it's true :( She did make "Pad Thai".

              2. This widely enjoyed food and drink doesn't have canonical versions--thankfully--and that's what makes them popular. With respect, Ina wasn't pitching to you or trying to upstage your take on what's what in Texas, OK? They make "flipper" chili in Newfoundland--that's seal flipper, pard, not the finny TV star--that skips the beans, too. Not sure if you'd go for it, either. Enjoy those shrimp while you can--hope the currents don't shift.

                27 Replies
                1. re: Kagemusha

                  "This widely enjoyed food and drink doesn't have canonical versions--thankfully--and that's what makes them popular"



                  It's like complaining that California Pizza Kitchen pizzas aren't authentic California-style pizza ...

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    I believe she used the term Tex Mex chili at least once. I'm not going to argue whether there are canonical versions or not, the bottom line this stuff wouldn't fly in Texas. I like SanityRemoved's clam chowder analogy.

                    1. re: James Cristinian

                      Which Ina program was this? What year? I found a Tex-mex episode on FN website - from 2002. If this is the one you saw, it's an old rerun.

                      1. re: paulj

                        It aired Friday and will re-air tomorrow at 5 eastern. I was reading the comments on her recipe, and a heated debate was raging pretty much split on regional lines, although at least one person from Texas said they loved it. Devon Fredericks, who made the chili, called it New York chili, but in her final comment Ina called it award winning Tex Mex chili. To be honest, I had forgotten the New York chili remark, what got me was Ina's award winnig remark, when chili with beans is not allowed in contests down here. It seems to have been a new show, as Devon's chili recipie is copyrighted in 2010 and indeed, I just checked my dvr to record it and it is a 2010 show. I'm going to give her tequila lime chicken recipie a try, although it is not something I've seen indegenous in Tex Mex restaurants.

                      2. re: James Cristinian

                        Yep. I am gonna have to side with James on this. There are some things that are regional and although there may be variations or tweeking the basic elements that MAKE IT UNIQUE like no beans in the chili makes it what it is. Can a Carolina pulled pork sandwich have a substitution of say... red leaf lettuce instead of coleslaw? Nope. Imagine the harumphing!

                        Fingers crossed on your remaining oil free. Ditto that for the Florida Keys please.

                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                          Look, Garten and/or any other non-"My Ancestors Fought and Died at the Alamo" cook is just doing `covers` of the originals--BIG DEAL!

                          1. re: Kagemusha

                            I'm not from that camp, second generation Polish here, so there is no chance. However, my wife is a different story, as she is of Mexican ancestry. Although a remote chance, many good men of Mexican descent died fighting for both sides, so maybe she had an ancestor there. I wouldn't make light of the Alamo, as you walk in there is a plaque admonishing the cell phone crowd to turn them off and to be quiet. It reads something like this, "This is a shrine, men died here." It moves me to tears every time.

                            1. re: Kagemusha

                              Tex-Mex has enough criticism (and an identity crisis) without being "covered" poorly.

                              It's frequently poo-poohed as "not Mexican" as if that is somehow a pejorative statement rather than simple fact, and not treated as the important original indigenous American cuisine that it is.

                              So I'm with James all the way. If you're going to call it Tex-Mex, then make and respect it as such.

                              If I made a soup out of chicken, kielbasa, rice and ketchup and called it New Orleans Gumbo it wouldn't be a "cover" - it'd be sacrilege. Because like Tex-Mex, Cajun & Creole are original indigenous cuisines that should be respected as such.

                              1. re: shanagain

                                That's just pure chauvinism--not reverence. Besides, there are great covers and bad covers--the point you chose to ignore. I'm sure Ina will be moved to tears reading your post. BTW, you and James need to get down with the meaning of "canonical." Hint: I'm not using it as a compliment.

                                1. re: Kagemusha

                                  Except, it does have a canonical basis in the cuisine created here as a mixture of Mexican and Texan heritage. No one is saying that Texan chili is the only type of dish called chili (yet, though many of us willingly would get into that in another post, I'm sure), only if you're going to call it TexMex, then make it TexMex. What's the problem with that?

                                  Just because I make something with lime & cilantro doesn't make it Thai. Same thing.

                                  Also, it's really not chauvinism, not even close. I never said that the TexMex to which I'm referring is the be-all-end-all of cuisines, only that it's treated as a culinary stepchild rather than an original American cuisine - and as such, if you're going to call a thing TexMex, it probably needs some roots in actual TexMex. And I'm a bit baffled why you're so.. intense about it.

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    Yeah, yeah, I know the meaning of the word, however if you make a dish and call it Tex Mex, doesn't make it so. I have not seen any of her recipies in any of the dozens of Tex Mex places I've eaten at in Texas. Nothing against Ina by the way, I just finished eating a shrimp scapmi in linguine of hers. It was delicious.

                                    1. re: southernitalian

                                      Sure - while they were influenced by other cultures & cooking techniques, they developed as a byproduct of their environment, evolving into a specific cuisine and culture. Do you disagree?

                                      1. re: shanagain

                                        Nope. That makes perfect sense. Thanks for explaining.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              A more than usually interesting analogy, ipsedixit. Neat!

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Most of the stuff from CPK is flatbread not pizza...WTF is Thai Pizza and pineapple pizza... :-))

                                sorry, hands start to shake and cannot stop jfood when he sees these things called "pizza."

                              2. re: Kagemusha

                                If they used the term TexMex then it should have some regional authenticity, if they said chili then there isn't a problem.

                                If I made New England clam chowder, you would not be impressed if it resembled Manhattan clam chowder.

                                1. re: SanityRemoved

                                  You're all correct, but I am beyond caring after I saw Food Network chefs make stir fries with techniques that would make my Chinese grandmother spin in her grave.

                                  1. re: SanityRemoved

                                    agreed. if you're making fish tacos, i don't care if you use flour tortillas, or if you grill the fish instead of frying it...you can even top them with shredded cheese and tomatoes if you want to. but if you tell me they're *Baja* fish tacos, they'd better be fried fish, cabbage, and a white sauce on corn tortillas.

                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                      Is there an authoritative source that describes fish tacos as served throughout Baja? Or are you focusing on the stereotypical version that got imported to southern California? How about the LA chain that calls itself 'Baja Fish Tacos'?

                                      Here's what Wiki (spanish edition) says:
                                      "Tacos de pescado: originarios de Baja California, se preparan con pescado empanizado en un tipo de tempura y frito en aceite. Se acompañan con pico de gallo, salsa verde, aderezo en base de crema y mayonesa, y repollo finamente cortado."

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Is there an authoritative source that describes fish tacos as served throughout Baja?
                                        i'm sure there is somewhere, but i was speaking from my own experience. when you get fish tacos from a street vendor in Baja, you're going to get battered, fried fish in a corn tortilla with a cream- or mayo-based white sauce and shredded green cabbage...probably garnished with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime, and maybe topped with pico de gallo. true street fish tacos in Baja don't consist of grilled fish, shredded cheese and a flour tortilla...at least not any that i've had or seen down there. but that's often what passes for a "Baja fish taco" north of the border.

                                        anyway, fish tacos aren't the point of this thread. i was simply trying to illustrate that when it comes to a regional specialty, it's usually better not to assign the specific regional name to your own version of the dish if it's not an authentic recipe...if Ina had simply called hers "chili" instead of Tex-Mex chili, no one would have batted an eye.

                                      2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                        Bingo. I am SO not a member of this cult of "authenticity" some folks seem to get real worked up about, but if you're going to say you're making a particular regional dish or type of cuisine (Tex-Mex, North Carolina BBQ, Boston clam chowder, etc.), it probably should be what you're calling it. Why not just call it "chili" or "bbq" or "chowder" otherwise?

                                    2. re: Kagemusha

                                      We eat dolphins in Texas. They're delicious, especially the little ones, called chicken dolphin. They're also called dolphin fish, dorado, or most places, mahi mahi. As for flipper and cousins, I see them while I'm wade fishing all then time. Kinda startling when one surfaces ten feet behind you and blows out its air hole. At least it's not a shark, I see plenty of those too.

                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                        Mahi Mahi is not dolphin. Commenting on an old post - but looked at it because the show was on today.

                                        I live in NC - we have a lot of fish and one of them is Mahi Mahi - I'll have to research your Texas dolphin claims. I was born there and lived there for 12.5 yrs - still have friends there.

                                        1. re: Jeanne

                                          It is indeed dolphin -- the large, blunt headed fish, not the mammal. I've seen them caught. I've eaten them after.

                                          1. re: jmckee

                                            Yes, you are correct. It is dolphin. Ditto your post.

                                            1. re: chloebell

                                              The are "dolfin" "dolfin fish" not dolphin... dolphin the mammal - flipper. Dolfin = Mahi = Dorado. Ah I stand corrected. Hubs tells me I have been spelling it wrong all these years - smirk. Dolphin fish is not the mammal, but Dolphinfish = dorado = mahi mahi. Lordy

                                    3. Texas chili is only one 0f many variations, not any more authentic than others.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        No one said any different, but if you're going to call it Tex-Mex, it should indeed be a Tex-Mex version.

                                      2. Maybe she did butcher it, but i'd still give a day's pay to go to one of her seafood beach picnics.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: EWSflash

                                          Me too -- because that's her thing, it's what she's great at. Tex-Mex? Not so much. I'd have the same issue with the Neeleys trying to do shi-shi spa cuisine or Michael Chiarello making, I dunno, Korean food. Just doesn't jive.

                                          1. Maybe she made a mistake (in your eyes) by saying that this chili is "texmex". I want to say that I saw the show and personally thought it looked delicious. I love beans in chili. Even if it isn't authentic it gives a nice texture and added bulk to chili. Cooking is all about experimenting and taking old recipes to make them new again. I'm going to make this chili later in the week in fact and I'm sure it's great. If you don't want the beans in there then don't add the beans. Don't knock her because she's trying to make old, overdone recipes new again.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: pamplemousse1

                                              Yeah, wouldn't chili cook offs be totally awesome if everyone used the exact same recipe? [/sarcasm]. I think half the fun of making chili is experimenting and trying different combinations. I always use beans, but I pound them into a paste with a potato masher so my kids will eat it.

                                            2. I had a similar reaction a few years back when Emeril was trying to do Chinese food. Back then, people thought I was crazy and that it was natural for Emeril to venture out of his main milieu.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: Phaedrus

                                                The mostly north-east centric FN hosts and, for that matter, the ATK chefs, frequently make my jaw drop with their ethnic 'recipes'. You can hear me screaming at the TV 'AAAAAAGGGHHHHHH'!
                                                It's pretty sad to watch Emeril try to do Mexican or anything Asian. Even Alton Brown's chili was a train wreck. Maybe Bobby Flay is smart to stick to grilling and ICA ...

                                                1. re: DiveFan

                                                  "Maybe Bobby Flay is smart to stick to grilling and ICA ..."
                                                  you raise an interesting point here. he's always getting slammed her on CH for his "ego" or the fact that he seems to do the same food all the time, but the guy knows his strengths...and he's the first one to admit he's totally out of his league in some of the Throwdowns.

                                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                                    Really, what was so bad about Alton's chili? Admittedly, it's been a while since I watched that episode, and I'm not a native Texan (well, my mom grew up there, but she didnt make regulation chili), but I have pretty good idea of what goes into competition chili.

                                                    And I know the difference between the California usage of 'pasilla', and the more common Mexican usage.

                                                    1. re: DiveFan

                                                      It's been a while since I made AB's 'pressure cooker' recipe:
                                                      and IIRC the chili turned out mushy and bland. I remember being skeptical about both the ingredients and the technique before making it, and my instincts were Correct. I've been eating chili a long time and all over most of the country (including in Texas) and generally prefer the Texas/ICS/CASI approach. Good to see that there's a Peoples Choice division, didn't remember that.

                                                      1. re: DiveFan

                                                        I don't see an inherent problem with using a pressure cooker to make chili. Mushiness probably is the result of too long cooking at pressure.

                                                        In other contexts, when people complain about blandness of sour or stew, my first question is, how much time did you spend adjusting the saltiness.

                                                  2. I saw the segment and thought the recipe was actually from the lady Ina was helping, I also heard Ina said these were Tex-Mex "Inspired" recipes. Viewers did call in and were asking Ina questions about Tex-Mex cooking, I thought that was pretty funny because I don't she is knows much about it and they were getting more Hampton-Mex cooking assitance.

                                                    1. When I saw that I had this episode on my DVR list I thought of this thread and had to watch it. My take as a midwesterner was that most of the dishes seemed like things that would appear at Tex Mex restaurants around me*. If I had to guess as to what they thought made the chili Tex-Mex I would say maybe that they were using chunks of beef instead of ground. As a person who has a very strict definition of martinis I understand your frustration at her Margarita recipe, but you have to admit it's better than the Strawberry-Passion Fruit-Peach mutants that show up on menus all too frequently. At least she used citrus fruit, and even kept the lime.

                                                      *Which is to say authentic looking and sounding to someone not from Texas.

                                                      5 Replies
                                                      1. re: justlauralibrarian

                                                        Actually, most chili meat is of a chunkier variety, usually chuck in what is called a chili grind, being much coarser than regular ground, which is used on a lesser basis. I had no problem with the brisket, it was the beans and Ina saying it was a Tex Mex chili, when beans or other fillers are not used. If people want to put beans in chili, more power to them, please don't call it Tex Mex.

                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                          Here's an entertaining article on prejudice, chili, and beans
                                                          He allows that there is such a thing as 'chile con carne y frejoles', but draws the line at white beans.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            That is a fun article. Thanks. How he draws the line at white beans is a nice touch.

                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                              That's pretty funny. I especially like the chicken fajita part, but I'm not even going to open the chicken, shrimp, veggie fajita box. I do have to ad skirt steak to the fajita recipe, indeed, that's what fajita translates to, a fajita is from Spanish for faja, a little belt or skirt, but flank steak is perfectly fine. Here's one, my wife, her family is from Mexico, calls what Anglo's call a potato masher, a bean masher.

                                                            2. re: James Cristinian

                                                              Who knew the ire you would cause! LOL I think I saw a few cleaning their guns. When they reach your house, maybe you can direct them to the border. I understand they might need some help down there. ; )

                                                          2. Ina's pretty smart.
                                                            Shoot her an e-mail and read what she has to say. That's what I'd do if I felt strongly about an issue.

                                                            1. Here's the chili recipe, with comments much like this thread
                                                              and the episode
                                                              Is her fish taco close enough to Baja style? Apparently it comes from a Hampton's restaurant, La Fondita, which claims to serve Mexican style street food (not TexMex)

                                                              1. As my DH likes to say, "If you know beans about chili, you know there are no beans in chili."

                                                                1. I think the use of the term "Tex Mex" was due *entirely* to its extemporaneous alliterative value, not substantive meaning, and that the clueless FN folks took it from there.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Karl S

                                                                    From the FN blurb on this episode, it sounds as though the other recipes and setting were chosen to complement the chili recipe. In that sense, the 'Tex Mex' label may more of an after thought than a starting point. Here's a 'society page' article on Devon Fredericks and her husband. Aren't they the kind of people that chowhounders would love?

                                                                  2. In light of the debate over what is allowed in (TexMex) chili, I thought these excerpts from the ICS rules are interesting:
                                                                    "1. Traditional Red Chili is defined by the International Chili Society as any kind of meat or combination of meats,cooked with red chili peppers, various spices and other ingredients, with the exception of BEANS and PASTA which are strictly forbidden."

                                                                    "10. Contestants will be permitted to sell or participate in People’s Choice Chili with the approval of the cookoff chairperson and in compliance with State and local agencies., ... People’s Choice Chili. PEOPLES CHOICE CHILI MUST HAVE BEANS OR PASTA."

                                                                    "12. Judges will be told they should vote for the chili they like best based on the following major considerations: good flavor, texture of the meat, consistency, blend of spices, aroma, and color. "

                                                                    1. Isn't having Ina Garten do Tex Mex a little like having Lidia Bastianich cook Japanese?

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                        THIS is exactly what I've been trying to say. +1

                                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                                          Or Iron Chef Sakai cook French?

                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                            She makes more money from her chili than most blowhards here do from theirs. Anything else?

                                                                            1. re: jmckee

                                                                              So Wolfgang Puck can only cook Austrian, Rick Bayless only Ameircan and jfood can only cook NJian? How boring

                                                                              Edit - For Steve h., changed to Rick, jfood used to work with another Bayless. :-))
                                                                              BTW, did you see RICK Bayless' recipe for a burger in the Advocate on Tuesday?

                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                Rick Bayless, too.
                                                                                ...got your back, jersey boy.

                                                                            2. Okay, but what if she uses "Really Good Beans"?

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: JohnE O

                                                                                Now that's funny. My wife's family is from Mexico, and she would insist it be pinto. On the other hand, she won't touch my beanless chili, maybe if I put some in she would eat it, but that's not going to happen.

                                                                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                  Pinto is more popular in northern Mexico. By the time you get to DF black bean dominates.

                                                                                  When I stayed with a Mexican family just across the border, beans were most often eaten at the end of the main noon time meal, and usually in a simpler preparation. Leftover beans might be refried.

                                                                                  I don't normally put beans in my chili. But when using fattier cuts like ox tail, black beans do a nice job of absorbing the excess fat. But such a stew is better called something like 'chiled oxtails', or oxtail with chile and beans.

                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                    I use a mix of pinto beans (northern Mexico), black beans (southern Mexico) and dark red kidney beans (think Louisiana) in my AAA (Almost All American) Chili*:

                                                                                    • 1 lb ground bison
                                                                                    • 20 oz ground turkey (93% lean)
                                                                                    • At least 6 oz onion (1 medium or 2 small yellow or red onions), coarsely chopped; you may also add minced garlic to taste (for a more pronounced garlic flavor, add more at the end of cooking)
                                                                                    • Spices:
                                                                                    2 tablespoons or more of quality chili powder (I use Penzey’s; Spice Islands is highly rated),
                                                                                    1 tablespoon dried oregano (make it Mexican if you can find it),
                                                                                    1/2 tablespoon ancho chili powder (or more to taste)
                                                                                    1/2 tablespoon chipotle chili powder (ditto)
                                                                                    1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
                                                                                    1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
                                                                                    Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
                                                                                    • 1/2 cup fire-roasted salsa verde (tomatillo salsa)
                                                                                    • Two 28 oz cans of Muir Glen crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
                                                                                    • One 15 oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed [1.75 cups of beans – 5.25 cups total; you can also substitute equivalent amounts of any dried, rehydrated and parboiled beans you like – a 1lb bag of dried beans is about the same as 3 cans of beans]
                                                                                    • One 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed [ditto]
                                                                                    • One 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed [ditto]
                                                                                    • 1lb fresh or frozen sweet corn (shoepeg white corn is my preferred frozen type) – or kernels cut from 3 large ears of good in-season corn

                                                                                    Use a large (at least 5.5 quarts, preferably larger) heavy pot. No additional oil is needed if it’s nonstick or enameled. Brown the meat (adding a few pinches of salt to draw out the water) over medium heat just until cooked through but not dark or crusty. Then create a space at the bottom center of the pot for the onion (and garlic, if you like); let that cook in the rendered juices until soft. Then mix in the spices & salsa and let them cook a few minutes until fully aromatic. Then add the tomatoes, beans and corn, and simmer uncovered over medium low heat for 45-60 minutes (longer if using parboiled dried beans rather than canned beans), stirring occasionally, at least to the point where the tomatoes become more pureed in quality. If the chili is too thick, you can add a bit of water. If the chili is too watery (the watery-ness of canned tomatoes is variable rather than fixed), you puree a cup of it and add that puree back in to thicken it. Adjust seasonings to taste.

                                                                                    Makes roughly 18 cups (4.5 quarts)

                                                                                    Nutritional information per cup (without garnish): 201 calories, 5.2 grams fat (23%), 1.6 grams saturated fat; 22 grams carbohydrate (44%), 5.6 grams fiber, and 16.4 grams protein (33%)

                                                                                    * Everything except the onion, garlic, cumin and coriander is an ingredient native to the Americas.

                                                                              2. Is chili (small cubed beef, no beans etc) Tex Mex, or just Texas? Is is something you'd expect to find a Texmex place (along with enchiladas, queso, nachos, guacamole etc), or does it have its own identify without a 'mex' component?

                                                                                Outside of Texas chili does not have any special Mexican association. Some places serve it with cornbread, others on spagetti (Cincinnati), on hot dogs. 'Mexican' restaurants don't serve it, not even the ones that cover everything with an orange blanket of melted cheese. The closest might be the chile colorado in some taquerias, but that uses larger chuncks of meat.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  It's actually difficult to find in Tex Mex places, at least in Houston. If you were to come to my place tonight and say, "Let's go eat some chili", I couldn't tell you one place that has it. I'd have to do a search. I could be wrong, but most people cook their own at home, especially during the winter months. A friend of mine and his neighbors do a small cook-off in on of the neighbor's back yards, maybe a dozen contestats.

                                                                                2. There's been a lot of talk on this thread about what isn't TexMex, but little about what it is, or what the the canonical dishes, ingredients, or methods.

                                                                                  At the end of the Wiki article on TexMex
                                                                                  there are links to a 6 part series by Rob Walsh in the Houston Press about the history and character of this cuisine

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: shanagain

                                                                                      That does look like an interesting book. Thanks for pointing it out!

                                                                                      1. re: shanagain

                                                                                        Oh yeah I have the book and it's very good.

                                                                                    2. Oh, for God's sake. It sounds like a perfectly decent pot of chili. I suppose brisket is what makes it "New York" chili.

                                                                                      WGAS if she put beans in? Are you Tex-Mex Police going to head to Easthampton and arrest her?

                                                                                      The really, truly funny thing is, I never expected Ina to make chili because she's a world-class cilantro hater.

                                                                                      I think I'm going to make a pot of this chili, James Cristinian, because (a) it sounds terrific and (b) it will piss some control queen off knowing that somewhere else on earth, another person is making chili with beans.

                                                                                      Mmmm...chili with beans.

                                                                                      19 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Jay F

                                                                                        Make the chili, I'm sure it's delicious, but it's not Tex Mex, and nothing on the show remotely resembles it. I'm over 50 and have eaten it all my life, and for her to make a TexMex show with those dishes that I'm sure are delicious, but not authentic, is wrong to me. Let me clarify, however I love her show and that was the reason I was watching. Now, before I'm attacked about authentic TexMex, here's a link to the history of the food and a 1940's menu from a San Antonio restaurant.


                                                                                        1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                          So how many items on that 1940s menu would you find in a modern Tex-Mex restaurant?

                                                                                          Notice that all of the 'suppers' include 'chile con carne' and 'frijoles'

                                                                                          I had to look up fritoque
                                                                                          A 1952 Kerrville newspaper recipe:
                                                                                          1 can (1 1/2 cups) Chili con carne with beans
                                                                                          1 cup grated cheese
                                                                                          1 medium onion (chopped)
                                                                                          1 cup crushed corn chips (measured after crushing)
                                                                                          Pour a can of chili con carne with beans into a casserole. Add a layer of grated cheese, chopped onions, and corn chips. Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

                                                                                          Sounds like Frito Pie
                                                                                          Frito Pie 5.95
                                                                                          Bowl Of Fritos Topped With Chili, Cheddar Cheese, Sour Cream

                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                            All include frijoles and chile con carne. Pretty much every Tex Mex place I've been to in Texas has everything on the menu with the exception of the fritoque, your point please?

                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                              What and where do you define a modern Tex Mex restaurant, Houston, Ontario, San Antonio, or the Rio Grande Valley where my Hispanic wife is from and refritos, refried beans are a staple as they are in every modern Tex Mex place I frequent?

                                                                                            1. re: eviemichael

                                                                                              Hey, Evie - Did you have your dinner party yet with the osso buco?

                                                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                Hi! No, not yet. We had to reschedule because my favorite aunt had to be out of town the weekend I had it planned. Now we scheduled it for March 3. I will definitely report back on how it all goes...wish me luck. :)

                                                                                            2. re: Jay F

                                                                                              You're missing his point in an attempt to snark, but ok. That's cool, it's the internet.

                                                                                              Incidentally, where are you from & what food is important to your area?

                                                                                              1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                I'm not missing his point, i.e., it's nottttttt Texxxxxxx Mexxxxxxxx. It's not authennnnnnnnnnnntic. I just don't attach as much importance to authenticity as he does.

                                                                                                I live in Pittsburgh. "Important" things to eat here are fried fish sandwiches at Catholic churches during Lent, pierogi, and sub sandwiches with French Fries stuffed inside of them. You can have "authentic." I don't want it. I don't need it.

                                                                                                I have actually been excoriated here for suggesting a better fish sandwich, because the fish sandwiches at Penn Avenue Fish Company (best fish in town) aren't "authentic."

                                                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                  No one cares if you put beans in your chili, or even if Ina puts beans in hers - but it's not Tex Mex. That's all. Just like Tex Mex isn't interior Mexican.

                                                                                                  Also, wow... Pittsburgh foods are kind of hard to use as an example, honestly. I mean, a fish sandwich is kind of just a fish sandwich - there's not much I could do to bastardize it to make a point. Oh well, enjoy your chili. If you ever went a more Tex Mex recipe don't forget to stop in the Texas board.

                                                                                                  1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                    Oh, I can make something that's more purely "Tex Mex" if I want to. I used to do it in the '80s. I don't hate Tex Mex at all. I just happen not to prefer it when it comes to chili.

                                                                                                    A poem:
                                                                                                    Not to put beans in chili
                                                                                                    Just seems sili.

                                                                                                    Oh, and another thing, I quite enjoy this website currently: http://www.texascooking.com/

                                                                                                    The guy who runs it, Steve Labinski, is a big Fiesta fan, & so am I. http://www.texascooking.com/fiestawar...

                                                                                                    BTW, the only reason I'm indulging in snarkasm is because of the headline. Ina didn't butcher *anything*. Someone is just a bit too fond of hyperbole.

                                                                                                    As for Pittsburgh food, yeah, it kind of comes pre-bastardized. Cabbage ravioli. Ugh.

                                                                                                    QUESTION FOR YOU: IS "THE TEX MEX COOKBOOK" BY ROBB WALSH *THE* BOOK TO GET? I have a couple of others, including the one by Huntley Dent, plus a couple I haven't seen in a long time (somewhere in an attic), but I haven't looked at any of them (obv.) in years.

                                                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                      Since you're such an authority on all things non Tex Mex, check out this poor suffering woman stranded in New York City with no real Tex Mex.


                                                                                                      It is a respected and well red blog.

                                                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                        "Authority on all things non Tex Mex"?

                                                                                                        There you go hyperbolizing again.

                                                                                                      2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                        The entire point is that Tex Mex is it's own thing. If you're going to cook something else, then call it something else. If anything, it was Ina who indulged in hyperbole by calling it Tex Mex; that's an entirely overblown description of what she cooked. She cooked some (surely) tasty things, but It'd be like using a bechamel and American cheese to make mac & cheese and calling it "French." It just doesn't work that way, and is disrespectful of the cuisine.

                                                                                                        Anyway... Yes, Robb Walsh is the guy to go to, and everyone I've recommended that book to loves it. I'm with James, btw, and absolutely love the homesicktexan's site.

                                                                                                        1. re: shanagain

                                                                                                          I've been reading about Texas lately, the history of the Bushes and LBJ. Maybe I'll take a break and look at something culinary instead.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                            Let's set our differences aside for a moment and tell me about those fish sandwiches, what kind of fish and how is it prepared. I love fish, except please don't tell me it's tilapia.

                                                                                                2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                  You never expected Ina to make chili because she hates cilantro?

                                                                                                  This statement just doesn't make any sense to me.

                                                                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                                                                    1. I use cilantro as a garnish for chili.
                                                                                                    2. I watched Ina for years before she made chili, AFAICR.
                                                                                                    3. I've known for some time she's a cilantro-hater.

                                                                                                3. Don't mess with Texas. I agree. That would get her run out on a rail!