Best of the Best from Texas, 352pp.
edited by Gwen McKee and Barbara Moseley
Quail Ridge Press, Brandon Mississippi, 1985
Cooking on page 32
This is the second volume I’ve used from the Best of the Best series of cookbooks that cover USA state and regional recipes. The first was Beyond grits and gravy. McKee and Moseley spent years and travelled thousands of miles in the USA to compile this set of 42 books. This book is based on popular recipes that appeared in 80 of the state’s favourite cookbooks.
I bought it in Oklahoma, not Texas, at Gardner’s, the state’s largest second-hand bookstore, where most cookbooks have a price tag of $5 or less.
A quick comment about Gardner’s,which is huge. I wandered all over the store looking for cookbooks. I finally asked about them and was told they were down the front aisle, through the café and on the right. Staff at the café were rather disappointed to learn I was after books and not food.
Anyway, I was drawn to the book because I’d never heard of the page-32 recipe, a hearty meat dip called picadillo (pronounced (pee-kah-DEE-yoh). This recipe originally appeared in Cooking Texas Style.
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
4 large tomatoes
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup diced pimiento
1 cup slivered almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces tomato paste
2 canned jalapeños, seeded and chopped
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
Brown beef and pork in a large pan over high heat, separating with a fork, until cooked through. Lower heat to medium and place whole tomatoes on top of meat. Cover and let simmer for 10–15 minutes. Remove tomatoes, peel and dice them, and return to pan with their juice. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and simmer for 20–30 minutes or until the mixture is well blended and the raisins are plump. Yields 12–18 servings.
How it played out
Even though the recipe says it keeps in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for three months, I didn’t want a lot of leftovers, so I made half a batch.
It came together very easily and the colours, as it cooked, were gorgeous. I really liked the idea of plopping the tomatoes on top of the cooked meat.
Served with corn chips as the starter for a dinner for our daughter Petra’s cricket team. The girls gave it 4.5 stars, only because they, too, had never heard or eaten of picadillo, and decided they couldn’t give it 5 stars if they didn’t know how it was supposed to taste. Hahaha!
Frankly, I think it could have done with some sour cream and salsa on the side. Next time!
There was one other page-32 recipe included in the dinner—double-rich chocolate cookies.
If you’re interested in Texas, have a look at my travel blog entry on the Dallas Arboretum.