Tex-Mex (a cross between Southwestern and Mexican) is a super easy cuisine to play around with in your own kitchen, especially since it's fusion in nature and includes a lot of pantry ingredients.
The first step to creating your own Tex-Mex dishes at home is to make sure you have all the right spices. My favorite spice shops are Kalustyans and Penzey's, but even Whole Foods has some good chile powders. Pick up a few like ancho, chipotle, or something more obscure like Guajillo. You don't need many varieties - it just depends on how much heat you can take. No matter which kind you get, since it's ground from one type of whole chile, you can count on these spices being a lot more flavorful than any generic chili powder you buy in the regular grocery aisle. The other spices you'll need are ground cumin, cinnamon, and paprika. Then you're ready to roll.
Canned (or dried) beans are also a must-have in your pantry. Make sure to pick up black, kidney, and pinto beans - they are perfect for chili and nachos.
Once you have your pantry stocked, it's all a matter of learning how to make the basic components of a good burrito: spicy black beans, pico de gallo, and guacamole. I've put together 5 of my favorite easy Tex-Mex recipe that should get you up and running, and put your local Chili's to shame.
"Carnitas" or Mexican Pulled Pork is a great entry-level Tex-Mex dish. You simply sear some pieces of pork butt, then let them simmer away in the oven for 4 hours in a spicy stock. The result is a great base for any type of Tex-Mex recipe - quesadillas, tacos, or even just a great pulled pork sandwich. Get the recipe for Carnitas
Guacamole is the cornerstone of good Tex-Mex. It won’t last long in your fridge, but if you try to have a few avocados on hand at all times, you can easily whip up a less complicated version by just mashing them together with some lime juice and salt. For the real deal though, try this recipe for the best guacamole ever. Get the recipe for The Best Guacamole
A mixture of ground beef, kidney beans, tomatoes, and spices, Classic Chili con Carne is one of the most ubiquitous Tex-Mex recipes. It only requires one pot, and you can easily put your own spin on it, using any combination of chiles you like. Since this Chili Con Carne doesn’t have any beer or whiskey in it, it’s also gluten free. Get the recipe for Classic Chili Con Carne
Canned (or dried) beans are a must-have in your Tex-Mex pantry. Spicy black beans are a key component in good nachos and burritos, and they only take a few spices and a little time on the stove to become rich and delicious. Get the recipe for Spicy Black Beans
Besides guacamole, another great condiment is Pico de Gallo - tomatoes marinated in lime juice, garlic, and jalapenos. Not only is it easy to prepare, but it tastes better the longer it sits. Try this version with tart, sweet cherry tomatoes. Get the recipe for Cherry Tomato Pico de Gallo
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