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Deliciously Easy Texi-Mex Dinner

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posted on May, 2 2008 @ 10:03 AM

What is Texi-Mex?

Texi-Mex is a regionally unique cooking style that resulted from cross-breeding Mexican food with Texan food, and eventually became its own animal. It favors kick, using peppers and spices sometimes not available in Mexico, as opposed to the more sweetened Western "Cali-Mex" flavor, or the blander more spartan taste of genuine Mexican food. It also tends to favor a lot more use of the flour tortilla, whereas in Mexican food, the corn tortilla is favored. Texi-Mex also makes a lot heavier use of cheese and meat than its traditional Mexican counterparts. There are other differences, but that should give you some idea.

One other critical thing: Most Texans call it "Texi-Mex". Tex-Mex (without the "i") appears to be what non-Texans and corporations call it. I'm sure there's exceptions to this, but the two are pretty much one in the same. If want to look it up, use "Tex-Mex", if you're down here and want to order it, ask for "Texi-Mex".

End Result

Beef Enchilada Casserole, Spanish Rice, and Refried Beans.
Easily serves 4.

Special Ingredients

Ro*Tel Original - A blend of diced tomatoes, peppers, and spices. Essential to many Texi-Mex dishes.

Knorr Caldo de Tomate con Sabor de Pollo - In English, it's Tomato Bullion with Chicken Flavoring, but good luck finding it in English. You're going to have to hit the "Ethnic Foods" aisle to find this baby. If you want REAL Spanish rice, this is what you want to use. The pre-packaged Spanish-rice is nasty and should only be used if you wish to insult your guest.

Garlic Festival Mesquite Grill - My preferred Mesquite flavoring, mostly I use it for dry-rub grilling, but great for Texi-Mex beef dishes. You probably won't find this at a store, either order it online, or see if your local Ren-Faire or Home and Garden Show has a booth set up for it.

Ranch Style Beans - These are great. There's no other bean like them, in my opinion. Yeah, they're canned, yeah, they're processed, but with over 100 years of use behind them, they're considered a "Traditional" Texas bean by now.

Food Prep/Cooking Order

The second best thing about this meal (the first being the taste) is that, prepwork aside, it pretty much cooks itself with minimal interaction and stays "fresh" before serving for a long window of time. So if you do everything in the following order, you can basically fit the entire cycle into about 20 minutes of actual work, and the rest is just letting it sit there till everyone is ready to eat.

1 - Pre-heat oven to 425F.
2- Start the beef thawing if frozen.
3 - Cook the rice first, till you get to the "leave it alone for 20-30 minutes" part.
4 - Start browning the meat.
5 - While meat is browning, mash the beans, then put them in the oven.
6 - Chop up the onion and prep the casserole baking pan.
7 - Put the Casserole in the oven last.
8 - Everything should finish at the same time.

Spanish Rice Recipe

  • 1 can Ro*Tel Original
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons Knorr Caldo de Tomate con Sabor de Pollo
  • 1 cup dried long-grain rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or any oil, really)
  • 1 Large pan with lid (pref. glass, no holes in lid!)

    Pour oil in the pan, and let it cover the bottom lightly. Pour UNCOOKED, DRY rice into the oil, stir it around until rather evenly distributed. Cook at a medium-high heat until the rice begins to brown. While this happens, get 2 cups of water, heat till piping hot, and then stir in the Caldo until dissolved. Once some of the rice is browned (it doesn't need to be uniform), quickly pour in the water/caldo mixture--BEWARE STEAM! You want to pour it in fast enough so that as much of the water has time to boil up before the pan is cooled. Spoon about half the can of Ro*Tel into the Rice/Caldo bath, in somewhat even distribution. Cover the pan, and turn the heat down to Medium-Low.

    Leave it alone for 20-30 minutes. DO NOT STIR, DO NOT LIFT THE LID TO CHECK ON IT. This is the key to perfect rice. If you stir it, the rice will become mushy in some parts and crunchy in others. If you lift the lid, you will lose your steam, which is what's cooking the rice. Just trust me, and leave it alone for 20-30 minutes. You can technically leave it longer, but after about 30-mins, turn the stove down to Low, and do not touch that lid until you are ready to serve, or your rice will dry out. Untouched, you could leave the rice on low for probably an hour even and still have it come out fresh and tasty.

    Refried Beans Recipe

  • 2 cans of Ranch Style Beans (can substitute other pre-cooked beans)

    Empty the beans into an oven-save dish. Get a potato masher. Mash the heck out of them. Use slow, methodical, rocking mashes, not fast jabs (or you'll find yourself spritzed in beanjuice). Use the edge of the masher to scoop up the stuff stuck to the bottom of the dish and glop it back into the center, mashing it more. It's okay to leave a few lumps, but make sure it's at least about 95% even bean-paste. Then pop it in the oven, uncovered. Takes about 20-30mins. The longer you leave it, the more of a "crust" will form along the top. It's okay to open up the oven and check on it. Don't let the crust burn, but let it form as long as you can before it burns.

    Beef Enchilada Casserole Recipe

  • 1 can tomato sauce (not paste or soup)
  • 1 tablespoon Mesquite flavoring (pref. GF Mesquite Grill)
  • Ground Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Shredded Mexican Cheese Blend (or Cheddar and Mozza blend works)
  • 1/2 large yellow sweet onion

    Like the rice, a pan with a glass lid (no holes) works best for the browning part. Separate your beef into little "chunks" before browning. Each chunk should be no larger than about half a man's finger. The goal is to expose as much surface area of the meat as possible. Distribute it evenly in the bottom of an ungreased pan.

    Wash hands very thoroughly, they've just been handling raw meat! Then sprinkle the Mesquite flavoring over the top of it, as evenly as possible. Do a brief once-around with the pepperball. Then cover the pan and turn the stove up to medium heat (dead center works great). Let it sizzle, untouched, till the edges of the chunks turn brown, but the top is still pink. Then use a metal spatula to break the chunks apart and stir them around, flipping over as many as you can, but if you can't get them all, that's fine. Mainly the point of stirring them is so they don't stick to the pan. Re-cover, and leave till there are no visible pink areas, then remove from heat and drain the grease, or if pressed for time, use one of those big spoons with drain-holes in them to spoon out the meat.

    While your meat is browning, prep your casserole dish. A regular-sized pie-pan works great to bake this in if you don't have a medium-sized casserole dish. Cut all 4 tortillas in half. Pour some (not all) of the tomato sauce onto a plate. Dip both sides of each half of each tortilla into the tomato sauce. Line the bottom of the casserole dish with 4 of the tortillas halves (leave the other 4 in the sauce). If it is round (like the pie-pan), I found a triangle of 3, with the round edges out, works great, with one in the center. If it is square or rectangular, have the flat-edges out to cover the most area. Now chop up that onion. Only half is needed, dice it up real nice. Don't use a mincer, you want fingernail-sized chunks onion. Set aside the onion.

    Once the meat is done browning, spoon it into the dish on top of the first tortilla layer, then even it out. Then spoon your onion onto the meat, even it out. Then pour the rest of the tomato sauce over the onion and meat. Then cover in a layer of the shredded cheese. Not too thick, not too thin. Just enough to pretty much obscure the stuff under it, but not enough to drown it in cheese. Then cover the cheese with the remaining 4 tortilla halves, and once more, cover in a layer of cheese that is about the same.

    NOTE: it may be tempting to use Velveeta. In this instance, that would be a grave mistake, it's too runny. Use shredded "real" cheese, like Mexican blend, or cheddar and mozza, or colby jack and monterrey. A white and an orange, that's what you're shooting for.

    Pop it into the oven, uncovered, and leave it for around 10-20 minutes.

    Final Notes

    If done in the order that I showed you, everything should "finish" right at the same time. This recipe works great if your guests have an uncertain arrival time, because to extend the freshness before serving. If everything finished and your guests are running late, don't open your rice pan lid, turn the heat to Low. Don't open the oven, just turn it down to 300 or lower. I've gotten it to last an hour and a half before, and it tasted more or less fresh with only a minor drop in quality.

    Total cook time is about 30-45 minutes for it to "finish", but only about 15-20 minutes of that is actual work. The rest is letting time go by, during which time you can clean up that mess in the kitchen you just made, set the table, feed the dogs, watch TV, read a book, play GTA4, etc.

    [edit on 5/2/2008 by thelibra]

  • posted on May, 2 2008 @ 10:10 AM
    thelibra, this is wonderful, thank you for taking the time to post this, with specific instructions

    I am still somewhat "new" to the American/Mexican cuisine - my husband is American and I am Australian who specializes in middle eastern cuisine (REAL good eats in our house
    ) but I have been meaning to dabble in more American dishes so this is perfect as I have always been curious about certain dishes made over there, this being one of them

    A few things I am unfamiliar with (ie: Knorr Caldo de Tomate con Sabor de Pollo) but I will do my research and give this a go in the coming week

    Cheers hun

    posted on May, 2 2008 @ 10:55 AM

    Originally posted by ImJaded
    I have been meaning to dabble in more American dishes...

    Well, technically it's "Texi-Mex" as opposed to "American" or "Mexican" food. It's kind of hard to explain why, but American food is more like: hamburger, fried chicken, American Pizza (not like Italian Pizza), hot dogs, donuts, chicken fried steak, things generally involving frying, gravy, melted cheese, butter, and/or sugar. It's probably the least healthy, and most disputed in terms of origin. America really just hasn't been around long enough as a nation to have many of its own "traditional" dishes, like Europeans, the Middle East, China, etc... The few we do have are mostly less healthy re-hashes other people's fare.

    Texi-Mex is kind of an example of that. Genuine Mexican food is usually a lot less expensive, less flavorful, and healthier, because things like flour tortillas, beef, and dairy products are still pretty much luxury items in many parts of Mexico, and aren't used nearly as much in home cooking there. Outside of Texas, its so hard to find the ingredients to make Texi-Mex (especially the farther you get from Mexico), that it hasn't spread to many places except restaurants who, god bless 'em, try really hard, but never get it right, or get cheap, non-fresh ingredients, or substitute out critical ingredients for something more appealing to local tongues.

    Hence the reason I wouldn't really think of Texi-Mex as "American" Cuisine. You could get a hamburger anywhere in America, but Texi-Mex is really just kind of limited to a region spanning from about the Texas-Mexico border, to about as far east as half of Louisiana, to north about as far Oklahoma City, to about as far west as half of Arizona. Outside of that area, you really can't find Texi-Mex... at best you get something called "Southwest Cuisine" which is kind of a blend between Texi-Mex, Cali-Mex, and various local additions.

    Originally posted by ImJaded
    A few things I am unfamiliar with (ie: Knorr Caldo de Tomate con Sabor de Pollo)

    Knorr is a brand of spices, mixes, etc. "Caldo de Tomate" basically means "Tomato Soup", "con Sabor de Pollo" means "with chicken flavor." It's basically a red powder that, when added to hot water and stirred, makes a red boullion that tastes of tomato and chicken. Assuming you can't find it in Oz, try getting chicken-stock and mash some stewed tomatoes in it. That would probably work.

    Likewise, Ro*Tel they probably don't have in Oz either. You could substitute this with diced fresh tomatoes, minced bell peppers, and other diced, minced, or powdered peppers to taste.

    I'm assuming Oz has Mesquite seasoning, if not, I'm not sure how to make it.

    As a substitute for Ranch Style Beans, which they almost certainly don't have in Oz (I don't even see them north of Oklahoma, or South of Texas), you might try mixing Pinto and Garbanzo beans, maybe Black beans?

    Let me know how it turns out. Learning how to substitute out what isn't available for what is, is one of the hallmarks of fun cooking. I rarely have all the ingredients to a recipe, but I experiment with substitutes all the time.

    Oh, and please post some Oz Recipes, I've never tried Oz Cuisine, and in fact don't even know what it'd look or taste like.

    posted on May, 2 2008 @ 11:19 AM
    Ahhh well thank you, again, for the lesson in American cuisine
    I am somewhat familiar with it but have never really been accustomed to it nor cooking it.
    Just to clarify, I am currently living on a US Navy base in Japan with my husband so all our ingredients are local Japanese and imported American produce and grocery items.

    Most things are familiar, I do fried chicken, homemade pizzas - more like how they are done in Italy as to in America, but my experience mostly lies in Middle Eastern dishes.
    They too are made with a lot of clarified butter and salt but are still relatively healthy compared to most modern dishes. (I hold back on the salt unlike my mother who is not shy with it hehe
    but my husband says I am "up there" with her and I am really quite proud of this fact as she is the best cook I and everyone I know, knows

    The food culture in Oz is mainly made up of all different dishes from around the globe. There is a heavy Italian, Greek, European, Asian and Middle Eastern influence in our cuisine so there is no limit in what is prepared in homes and sold in restaurants. So there really aren't any traditional Aussie recipes that I can think of.
    We are big on very fresh food, seafoods and salads, soups etc ... and lamb is huge which if I am mistaken is not really the case in the US - I can't find lamb for love nor money on the base I live on
    My dad is a butcher and all his meat is organic and farm fresh, from a farm not 40 minutes from where his store is located so it's as healthy and fresh as it gets - and I miss it so

    Eating out in Melbourne, my hometown, is just fantastic, there is always something new to try and many, many recipes to try at home so mealtimes are always a new experience

    I will look for the ingredients mentioned in your recipe on base, if not I will improvise and report back

    Edit to add - link to a little history on Australian cuisine and it's influences
    Australia - favorite food and drinks

    Also here is the best site for recipes and what's new - as far as I am concerned anyway lol

    Epicure - Australian cuisine

    [edit on 2-5-2008 by ImJaded]

    posted on Sep, 2 2008 @ 06:01 AM
    Hi guys! I'm from Texas and grew up along the border, about a ten minute drive to Mexico!!! The Rio Grande Valley, to be exact. I'm living in Colorado now and sure am missing authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food. We actually call it Tex-Mex, without the "i". Just wanted to add or suggest a few things.....this thread got me excited to read and share...a little hungry, too!!! lol

    Ro-Tel is awesome if you make it with a tender cut of beef...just cut some beef chunks into bite sized pieces and add Ro-Tel...cover the pan and stir around every now and then and voila!!! Easy meal!!! Also works with chicken! I also love to make my Spanish rice with some cilantro in looks like Parsley, so don't confuse the two or you'll get a very different taste!!! And nothing beats the real thing when you make Spanish rice on your own!

    Ro-Tel, cilantro, lime, onion, cumin spice (or comino), salt or garlic salt, and Knorr are the key to a lot of things!!!! Ranch Style Beans are awesome and they now have some with Jalapeno peppers in them for that extra kick!!! If you like extra spicy to add to your meals or salsa, you need to find a pepper called chile pequin,,,it's tiny, but don't let the size fool you...that stuff is hottt!!! I've only been able to find it in spice form in Colorado.

    Another thing you might want to try with Ro-Tel is queso's so awesome...everyone will love it!!! You boil together a little bit of milk, velveeta cheese and add Ro-Tel and you have the most amazing queso dip!!! Perfect with tortilla chips and always a winner at get togethers!!

    Also, if you can get your hands on some cilantro...I just started doing this...blend some cilantro with ranch dressing and you get an awesome, flavorful dressing to add to your salads...oh, and add just a tiny bit of lime too!!! Also good for dipping like with cucumbers or carrots. You can't find that anywhere so you have to make it on your own...soooo yummy....i'm going to raid my refrigerator now!!! =0)

    posted on Jan, 9 2009 @ 01:44 PM
    Just wanted to echo what the previous poster mentioned, we do pronounce it "Tex-Mex" here in Texas. Also wanted to say that I have never heard of refried beans made with ranch style beans. Around here they are made exclusively with pinto beans. Here is a quick and easy (authentic) recipe.


    1 can (15.5 oz.) Pinto Beans, undrained
    1 tbsp. Vegetable Oil or Lard (Bacon fat works too)
    1/4 small onion, diced
    1 tsp. Minced Garlic
    Salt and pepper to taste
    2 tbsp. crumbled fresh cheese or shredded Monterrey jack cheese


    1. In a bowl, mash beans with fork or potato masher.
    2. Heat oil or lard in a skillet on medium. Add onion and garlic to skillet and cook until tender.
    3. Add beans, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until bean liquid starts to evaporate. Reduce heat and simmer until desired consistency, about 5 minutes. Serve with cheese sprinkled on top.


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