Monday, March 1, 2010

Celebrating Independence Texas Style.

Texas Independence Day is the celebration of the adoption of the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836. From the Battle of the Alamo to the declaration of independence from Mexico; Texas has always had more in common than differences with the culture & traditions of Mexico. As our friends in Mexico love to remind us Texas & Mexico used to be all the same country...
Never is that commonality less obvious than when I see our love for both the traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex cuisine right here in the Lone Star State.

Frijoles de Olla is the classic bean dish which is brought to the table in a Cazuela or Olla (the traditional earthenware pottery found throughout Mexico) after the main course has been eaten. I made a brief trip last week to the Mercado Zaragosa, in Pedras Negras, Coahuila. The Mercado Zaragosa is where my father bought me my first Olla many years ago. I continue to use that same Olla to this day when I want to make traditional Frijoles de Olla. I was relieved to see that the small market place in the heart of old Piedras Negras was still as quiet & tranquil as I remembered it. The recent troubles along the border regions in Northern Mexico have missed the sleepy burg of Piedras for now. I saw rows of traditional pottery (including several Ollas) on the familiar sidewalk in front of the Mercado. I made my way inside to purchase bottles of La Vencedora vanilla & honey. Those flavors are but just a few of the items I enjoy searching for each time I travel to Mexico.

In our quest to remove some of our meat from our weekly diet I decided to make our Frijoles de Olla without any meat or animal fats. The delicious Frijoles both North & South of the Border often have Lard in the recipe. While the taste might be more in keeping with tradition, this recipe has enough flavor the meat & lard is hardly a passing thought. I also prepared this dish with a soy chorizo sausage rather than traditional chorizo. There are several varieties of Soy Chorizo available here in the states however I suggest buying it to cook before you use it in the beans. Not all Soy Chorizos are created equal, ha,ha! (Trust me on this.) You do not have to cook these beans in anything other than a large pot or dutch oven. I served the Frijoles with Veggie Tacos. I have posted this recipe before on my blog & here is the link. Whether you are avoiding meat for Lent, dietary or life choice give these a try.

Frijoles de Olla

2 cups dried *Pinto beans, sorted & washed, soaked overnight and drained
1 medium White Onion, peeled & chopped
2 large Garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
4 Roma Tomatoes, roasted, peeled & diced
1 12 oz. Soy-rizo link, removed from casing
2 tsp. Chili Powder
1/4 cup Cilantro
4 quarts water
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place the beans in a large Olla - clay pot - or stockpot with the onion, garlic, the 4 roasted tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil & then lower to slow simmer for the next 3 hours. Do not add salt until the beans have finished cooking. Cover and cook for 3 hours or until tender. During the first hour of cooking saute the Soy-rizo, Soy Chorizo. (real chorizo or sausage may be used.)

When the beans are done, remove about 1 cup of them and mash or puree them with some of their liquid. Add the mashed beans back to the pot, and continue cooking a few more minutes, until the mashed beans have thickened the bean broth a bit. Add salt & black pepper to taste.

Serve the beans in the clay pot or an attractive, heat-proof bowl. Pass a platter of garnishes - chopped onions, crumbled cheese, chopped cilantro - so that they can be individually added to taste.
*In Southern Mexico black beans may be used but in much of Mexico as well as the Southwest Pinto beans or a small red bean are used more often than not.

Veggie Tacos are fast becoming a favorite at our home while I am scaling back the meat consumption for a bit of a healthier Texas to Mexico dining experience. I have made these tacos or a version of them many times before. You can be creative & use a never ending variety of vegetables or spices to make them as simple or as spicy as you handle. For some extra heat you might try adding finely diced jalapenos along side of your garnishes.
My Veggie Tacos recipes can be found here on a previous blog. I garnished the tacos this week with sliced radish, alfalfa sprouts & avocados.


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I would like to license the use of one of your images for the book jacket of an upcoming mystery.

Please email me at and I can give you further details.


Dee said...

Thank you, David. Will contact you as soon as possible.

Fresh Local and Best said...

The pottery pictured is beautiful! This is a great recipe for frijoles.

Anonymous said...

Happy Texas Independence day! Excellent dishes for the celebration!

Joie de vivre said...

A great way to celebrate Texas Independence Day.

Dee said...

Fresh Local & Best-thank you, the frijoles were given the okay by the Mister who is pretty picky about his beans.

5 Star Foodie-Much appreciated. I love those dishes & brought back so many when we moved back from Mexico. The make setting a table fun!

Joie de Vivre-thank you so much. We did celebrate it was also the same day as our Texas Primary here.

Joie de vivre said...

Thank you for visiting! To answer your question about the fish, it was just one of those Gordon's fisherman fillets. I didn't do anything to it except take it out of the package. The idea of those things would totally gross me out before, but in these days of trying to shave cents off of our grocery budget, they are good tasting and a cheap source of protein. I know, a totally unromantic way to look at food, but it's true.

Tangled Noodle said...

The pottery is lovely and the frijoles are downright delicious! I've been trying to cut back on our meat consumption as well and have found beans to be such a satisfying alternative. So thanks for another wonderful recipe to add to the menu!

Hornsfan said...

Yummy - wish I had some of those leftovers right now!

Chef Fresco said...

Those are some creative looking tacos! Yum! Nice photos!

mangocheeks said...

Hi Dee,

Your photographs are beautiful, makes me want to leap into the pictures for real. Well I want to be there !

PS I just noted that one of your fave movies is 'Like Water for Chocolate'. Its one of mine too. It took me ages to track a DVD copy and now I have my own to watch when I care too. The ending is just soooooo Sad.

Taste of Beirut said...

I live in Dallas, and have lived in Austin too. I love all Mexican food especially frijoles; thanks for the recipe!

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ClaudiaH said...

I am not doing well at keeping up with blogs, but I felt like looking in on yours today and was pleasantly rewarded, as usual. Nice vegetarian recipes! I will print them out and try them. I eat way too few beans, don't mind 'em but not crazy about them.

The soy meat substitutes are good for variety but contact me if you think you might be having them more than a couple of times/week, and I will tell you the bad things about them.

I can't believe you went into Mexico! Gutsy!