Food News

The Big Texas Cookbook is a Highlight Reel of Texas Dishes and Dreams

The Big Texas Cookbook even pays its respects to Luby's.
The Big Texas Cookbook even pays its respects to Luby's. Lauren Drewes Daniels
The editors of Texas Monthly have been busy collecting and double-checking their recipe collections lately. The Big Texas Cookbook was recently published and will likely stir many childhood memories and remind us that the culinary landscape in Texas is wildly diverse. And tasty.

Long-time Texas food writer Patricia Sharpe shares a quote at the beginning of the book: "Food is about many things—nourishment, pleasure, and culture among them—but it's also about recognizing who you are, and why."
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Texas Sheet Cake. Make one today.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Can a person be defined by King Ranch Casserole and enchiladas? If you just raised your hand, this book might be for you. All the big players are here, like the aforementioned Texax staples, plus zesty charred okra, Texas sheet cake, gumbo, grits and guacamole. Immigrant influences from across the world are within these pages, too, from Czech kolaches to Viet-Cajun crawfish boils.

There are also some long-form love letters and odes that hit the spot. Personal favorites: "If It's Not Sweet, It's Not a Kolache" and "In Defense of Just Eating Your Dang Thanksgiving Dinner at Luby's." Done that.
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Lauren Drewes Daniels
If you're a fan of the North Texas culinary scene in particular, you'll find lots to like. Chef Anastacia Quiñones-Pittman of José shares a chicken pozole verde recipe. Joe Zavala of Zavala's in Grand Prairie provides a brisket guisada recipe. There's even a page for Goldee's house sausage.

Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn sampled "more than a hundred banana puddings at more than a hundred barbecue joints," and worked on his own recipe. It took nine tries. Spoiler: He uses some sour cream for a little "acidic zing."

Chef Danny Sirisavath, whose restaurants have included Khao Noodle Shop and Darkoo's Chicken, supplied a recipe for Lao Texas Chili made with lemongrass, galangal, Thai chile, flakes bai ki hoot and fish sauce for a Laotian twist on the Texas classic.

There are also offerings from chefs from other parts of the state, like Houston's Chris Shepherd who shared his braised chicken and black pepper dumplings. Even Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap has a page.

All that goes to say, this isn't a very user-friendly cookbook. Some recipes are a bit more involved, like sausage. But take heart — there are plenty of simple recipes.

The book will definitely strike some emotional eating chords. It's got more than 100 recipes, with photos for every dish. Its seven chapters include "Made in Texas," barbecue, Tex-Mex, home cooking, holiday recipes, breakfast and drinks.

The Big Texas Cookbook is sold through Amazon for $33.75 or through HarperCollins for $30. If you buy from the latter and spend $49, you get free shipping. 
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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.

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