A Modern Tex-Mex Kitchen
An Eating the West Award Finalist 2020
Tex-Mex is a delicious, irreverent cuisine that combines the deep traditions of Texan and Mexican cooking. Think meaty stews, breakfast tacos, and tres leches cake. Home cooks will learn how to make them all—in addition to crunchy salads, slow-cooked meats, and fresh cocktails—in this collection of more than 100 recipes from San Antonio native and Los Angeles chef and restauranteur Josef Centeno. Organized into chapters by type of food—including breakfast, vegetables, main courses, desserts, and a super nacho party—this is down-home cooking and grilling at its most inspiring. Presented in a colorful package with more than 100 food and atmospheric photos, this cookbook is a hands-on winner for anyone who loves big flavors, casual parties, and firing up the grill.
"The only thing authentic about Tex-Mex cuisine is that it isn't authentic," writes Centeno (B co), the chef-owner of L.A. restaurants B co Mercat and Bar Am , in this superb take on the cuisine. He proves his point with the inclusion of such classics as tortilla soup; chicken-fried steak with bacon gravy; Tex-Mex roast turkey, which involves brining the bird in a combination of beer, dark brown sugar, chiles and herbs, then basting with chile butter; and a decadent take on the classic fried ice cream a vanilla bean semifreddo cloaked in crushed cereal and fried, then bathed in a dulce de leche sauce. Imaginative riffs include turmeric-finger chicken fajitas; beef cheek barbacoa enchiladas; lobster diablo, which incorporates crema, hot sauce, cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses; and corn quesadillas with poblano, cilantro, and greens onions that gets a creamy boost from buffalo mozzarella, paired with a sharp white cheddar. Centeno's artful and accessible mix of high and low techniques (Mom's Rice is a riff on red rice that gets a boost from V8; Velveeta is a key component in his queso) emphasize flavor over pretentiousness. Anyone thinking of taking a stab at Tex-Mex would do well to pick this up.