It’s generally hard to predict the future, but when it comes to Tex Mex cuisine, you can count on this today: it’s going to become ever more popular. (Orders for steak fajitas, in fact, increased by 30 percent on “March Madness” basketball game days in 2015.)
But what’s going on within Tex Mex cuisine itself? Take a look below for some trends we’ve discovered.
- People want to know where a Tex Mex dish “came from.”
While Tex Mex itself is a cuisine that came to the U.S. from Tejanos who emigrated from northern Mexico to Texas in the last couple of centuries, many Mexican/Tex Mex restaurants are now highlighting the province or state where a dish originally came from. This is supposed to make the dish more exotic (or at least interesting) to the diners.
- Whitefish in your tacos.
As more and more people are looking to eat fish for its health benefits, look to Tex Mex cuisine to deliver with more dishes such as tacos served with fried whitefish, shredded cabbage and sauce rolled up in a soft tortilla.
- Queso has taken over New York City.
Yes, the cheesy, ultra-gooey dish beloved by all who adore Tex Mex cuisine has gone over in a huge way in Manhattan. New Yorkers apparently are over the moon for queso, the comfort food to end all comfort foods.
- “Upscale” Mexican cuisine.
What do we mean by “upscale?” Think of traditional Mexican recipes that now are so old, they once again are extremely cool. This type of cuisine – while traditional in nature – tends to be served in ultra-modern and posh restaurants. Expect to pay swanky prices for your meal, as well.
- Tex Mex itself is a trend. One that’s not going away anytime soon.
Tex Mex as a “cuisine” became hot in the U.S. in the 1980s. Even today, IBISWorld (which calls itself the “largest provider of industry information in the U.S.”) predicts that the number of Mexican/Tex Mex restaurants will grow by about 3.1 percent per year between now and 2020.
Naturally, we urge you to do your part to keep Tex Mex trending upwards. Visit Mattito’s today and enjoy our great Tex Mex dishes.
Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you’re going to eat a burrito, you might as well make sure it’s a “wet” burrito, which is a burrito smothered in red chili sauce (such as enchilada sauce) with melted shredded cheese added to its top. (Important note: a wet burrito often is so drenched with chili sauce that you’ll need to eat it with a knife and fork, rather than with your hands).
We’ve searched for a great wet burrito recipe for you and found it courtesy of Cindy Newell at AllRecipes.com. We hope you enjoy it!
This recipe results in six burritos, each with a calorie count of 996. (This recipe is not for dieters!) From prep to meal should take about 45 minutes.
- One pound of ground beef
- One-half cup of chopped onion
- One clove of minced garlic
- One-half teaspoon of cumin
- One-quarter teaspoon of salt
- One-eighth teaspoon of pepper
- One (4 ½ ounces) can of diced green chili peppers
- One (16-ounce) can of refried beans
- One (15-ounce) can of chili without beans
- One (10.75-ounce) can of condensed tomato soup
- One (10-ounce) can of enchilada sauce
- Six 12-inch warmed flour tortillas
- Two cups of shredded lettuce
- One cup of chopped tomatoes
- Two cups of Mexican blend cheese (shredded)
- One-half cup of green onions (chopped)
- Crumble the ground beef into a skillet and cook over medium-high heat. Stir until evenly browned.
- Add the onion and keep cooking until the onion is translucent.
- Drain the grease and season the beef/onion mixture with the cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Stir in the green chilies as well as the refried beans until they are blended well. Turn off the heat, but keep the mixture warm.
- Take a saucepan and combine the chili-without-beans, the tomato soup and the enchilada sauce. Mix well and, over medium heat, cook until entirely heated through. Turn off the heat, but keep the mixture warm.
- Warm a tortilla, place it on a plate and then spoon (a very generous) one-half cup of the beef mixture into the tortilla’s center. Top it with as much lettuce and tomato as you like.
- Roll the tortilla over the filling and then spoon some sauce over the top (don’t be miserly with the sauce). Sprinkle it with the green onions and cheese.
- Heat in a microwave oven for 30 seconds (or until the cheese melts). Repeat with the other five tortillas.
You may not see burritos on our menu, but if it’s a burrito you want – whether it’s “wet,” not-so-wet, filled with beef or chicken, just let your waiter know and we’ll be happy to make you one. Visit a Mattito’s location near you soon.
Image by Christopher Vasquez from Hawthorne, California, United States (Wet Burrito) [CC BY 2.0]via Wikimedia Commons.
When it comes to cooking and serving Tex Mex dishes, we think you should make sure your sense of humor is working well. Tex Mex dishes are pretty easy to make, fun to serve and great to eat, so prepare yourself – and your tastebuds — for fun!
- When making fajitas, make sure the grill is hot, hot, hot!!!
Fajitas when served need to sizzle and they won’t sizzle unless your grill is extremely hot! You also need to remember to slice the skirt steak across the grain, get a plate that handles heat well and serve. And don’t forget to warn anyone to whom you pass a fajita meal that “Watch out; the plate is very hot.”
Queso and tortilla chips. A snack made in heaven!
- Tex Mex is just not Tex Mex without a ton of melted cheese.
Traditional Mexican food tends to go easy on the cheese (as well as the beef), but Tex Mex has taken melted cheese to a whole new level. It’s poured on nachos, burritos, enchiladas, and even taquitos. It’s the main – sometimes only – ingredient aside from the tortilla in a quesadilla.
So never forget the cheese. Oh, you may say it’s not heart-healthy. Your guests may complain that just looking at that enchilada makes them gain five pounds, but ignore them.
In other words, never, ever, ever forget the queso! Just don’t
- Sure, add spice and other flavors to your chili con carne, but don’t forget….
…it’s all about the meat! So many chili recipes require adding this spice here and that flavor there. But at its base, chili is chili con carne (chili with meat). So remember what you came for and don’t let a whole lot of other things get in the way. Chili? Check. Savory beef? Check. You’re in!
- Speaking of a dish’s essence: consider the nacho.
When you think of nachos, what comes to mind? A platter piled high with warm tortilla chips, smothered in beef, cheese, chilis, sliced olives, lettuce, tomatoes, and more?
But what if you drilled down to the original nacho’s “recipe?” Tortilla chips, melted cheese, shredded lettuce, and ground beef. Or even just chips smothered in melted cheese. Simple? Yes. Perfect? Definitely.
- Cook the beans you use for refried beans.
Do refried beans made with beans from a can taste great? Of course! But if you make this Southwestern comfort food by cooking fresh beans from scratch? Flawless!
Image courtesy of joephotostudio/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tex Mex cuisine is traditional Mexican fare that’s been “reworked” by Mexican immigrants (called Tejanos years ago) who moved to Texas in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
They naturally brought the food they loved with them, and it has evolved over the years to the cuisine we now call Tex Mex. Many Tex Mex foods, in fact, never came from Mexico at all: fajitos, margaritas, nachos, and more are just a small sample of dishes that are completely Tex Mex.
Tex Mex was well known in Texas by the mid-1950s and became popular across the country over the next several decades as fast-food chains such as Taco Bell helped grow Tex Mex’s popularity throughout the U.S. (Not that we consider Taco Bell to be “real” or even good Tex Mex food; but the chain helped popularize tacos and burritos, etc., helping Americans become more open to trying other types of Tex Mex food.)
So why is it becoming more and more popular? IBISWorld.com (a provider of current business information) reports that the Mexican restaurant industry grew by almost three percent (2.9 percent) in the U.S. between 2010 and 2015, with revenue of $38 billion. It attributes this growth to “an increased acceptance of Mexican cuisine in the mainstream American pallet,” as well as “an increasing immigrant population coupled with domestic adaptations of Mexican food, such as Tex-Mex cuisine.”
That’s a very “dry” way of looking at the increasing popularity of Tex Mex. Here’s our take:
Why the buzz about Tex Mex food?
- Tex Mex food makes great “comfort food.”
Feeling low? Have some refried beans. Feeling festive? Bring your friends and family to your favorite Tex Mex restaurant and order some fajitas. Just watch the faces of your family members when that sizzling plate of fajitas comes to the table. Just try not to smile as you watch that steak sizzle.
- Tex Mex cuisine can be very healthy fare.
The refried beans mentioned above may not be “heart-healthy,” but many Tex Mex dishes and foods can be very good for you.
Tex Mex dishes often are filled with colorful vegetables (fajitas filled with red and yellow peppers, anyone?). You can substitute fish or chicken in many of the dishes (fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, etc.). You can skip the tortillas and the taco shells and just eat the meat and veggies on their own (low carb). Ask that your burrito have no added cheese. The choice is yours (and Tex Mex makes choosing healthy dishes easy).
- Tex Mex food is great eating with the family or even on a hot date.
In other words, eating at a Tex Mex restaurant can be a family affair or a romantic dinner for two (if available, ask the strolling Mariachi band to play and sing a love song).
- Tex Mex can be had at any price point.
As hinted at above, you can find a Tex Mex restaurant that serves hearty meals at an affordable price, or you can go all out and woo your love with wine, fine linens and romantic music.
Whether you’re new to Tex Mex cuisine or you’ve been an aficionado for decades, visit a Mattito’s near you and enjoy some terrific Tex Mex dishes! We look forward to serving you.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you love Tex Mex food as much as we do, you probably know a lot more about this delicious cuisine than most people.
But we doubt you know it all.
That’s why we’ve put together a short list of four things you probably don’t know about Tex Mex cuisine (but will be so glad to learn).
- Tomatoes and vanilla originates from Mexico and its neighbors.
Many people think tomatoes come from Italy, but they originated in the Andes and were cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas.
Don’t thank Italy; thank the Incas and Aztecs!
As for vanilla, it originates from an orchid (the genus Vanilla). Most of these orchids now are grown throughout the world, but they came to us first from Mesoamerica, which now includes parts of Guatemala and modern-day Mexico.
Be careful, however, about going to Mexico to find “original” vanilla: it may not be real vanilla.
- Authentic guacamole doesn’t use garlic or lime.
The ingredients for authentic guacamole are as follows: white onion, avocado, jalapeno or serrano chili, cilantro, and salt. Tomatoes also are a part of authentic guacamole, although their use is optional.
Some regions of Mexico outside of the Center Plateau may use lime, but an authentic recipe never includes garlic or even lemon, cumin, cayenne, pepper, chili powder, red onion, or any type of spice.
- Fajitas didn’t originate in Mexico.
Neither did nachos or chimichangas. Fajitas as a dish got its start right here in Texas. The name didn’t appear in print until 1971 and even then the term “fajita” didn’t refer to the dish at the time but to the little strips of meat cut from skirt steak.
Restaurants in Houston, San Antonio and Austin made the dish popular in the 1990s and it wasn’t until that time that the term “fajita” described the dish we so love today.
- In order to be called real Tequila, Tequila must be produced in Tequila.
The Tequila region of Mexico, that is. This is law in Mexico and came about to protect the integrity of the real deal. You can find lots of imitations of the liquor, of course (and they will be less expensive). But if you want to be sure you’re drinking real Tequila (which is the national drink of Mexico, by the way), make sure it was truly made in Mexico and either in the states of Jalisco (where it originated), Nayarit, Guanajuato, Michoacan, or Tamaulipas.
Also, real Tequila has no worm in it. The worm is a marketing ploy. It adds nothing to the flavor of the drink and – once again – no worm will ever grace a bottle of real Tequila.
Image courtesy of foto76/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Borrowing from the classic Blue Diamond Almonds television ad of 1986: eat just one more Tex Mex meal a month, that’s all we ask.
So if you agree with us and have decided to eat more Tex Mex in 2016, here are four ways to work more of this delicious cuisine into your diet.
We know you want to, so go ahead: eat more Tex Mex food in 2016!
- Always keep soft tortillas and cheese in your refrigerator to make quesadillas whenever the urge strikes.
Quesadillas are perhaps the Best. Snack. Ever. They are easy to make: just get your tortillas, place a slice or two of your favorite cheese (the best type of cheese are those that melt well, such as Gouda, mozzarella and cheddar), place it in your toaster oven or microwave and…instant, delicious, comforting snack!
- Remember that grilled chicken fajitas are very healthy!
The pieces of grilled chicken sitting on your plenty have plenty of protein. The grilled red peppers, yellow squash and zucchinis are full of vitamins and minerals. Keep away from the tortilla chips and guacamole and you have a delicious meal providing plenty of health benefits.
So if you want to eat healthy in 2016, it’s easy: eat fajitas!
- Call your stay-at-home spouse before leaving work to say that he/she doesn’t need to cook tonight: you’re bringing take out!
And then head to your favorite Tex Mex restaurant for some take out tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. And don’t forget to ask for extra tortilla chips!
- Go out on a date with your sweetheart and eat at your favorite Tex Mex restaurant.
A week later, suggest that you take the whole family out for Tex Mex. The next week, suggest to your best girlfriend to meet at a great Tex Mex restaurant for lunch, or go out with the guys after watching the game for some fajitas and margaritas.
See how easy it can be to eat more Tex Mex?! But there’s no need to wait until next year: visit your favorite Mattito’s today. We’ll keep the fajitas sizzling for you!
Image by Miia Ranta from Finland (Texmex Dinners For Lazy Bastards Uploaded by Fæ) [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons.
A margarita is one of the easiest of alcoholic drinks to make: at its simplest it consists of tequila, lime juice, Triple Sec, salt, crushed ice and, if preferred, some simple syrup (for sweetening).
But with the advent of flavored margaritas, many of the drink’s true aficionados are crying foul.
Mango margarita daiquiris such as this have true margarita loves up in arms.
So we’ve put together a short list of four ways you can improve your next batch of true margaritas.
- Don’t skimp on the quality of the tequila used.
Make sure you use tequila that is called 100 percent agave. This means that only blue agave sugar was used and that no additional sugars were added to the tequila during fermentation.
You also may want to splurge on reposado or anejo tequila, as they both have been aged in oak barrels
(anejo is aged longer). These two tequilas are darker and some people say they taste a bit of caramel.
- Use a Triple Sec known as Cointreau.
Many people just use Triple Sec and call it a day. But if you use Cointreau, you’ll enjoy its sweet-but-light orange flavor.
- For an eight-ounce margarita:
- Coarse salt to rim the margarita glass
- Take a fresh lime and run it around the rim of the glass.
- Place the rim of the glass atop the crushed salt
- Fill the glass two-thirds full with crushed ice
Then pour your margarita mix into the glass. This should be your ingredients’ ratio:
- One-third of a short glass of simple syrup
- Two-thirds of a shot glass of lime juice
- One-third of a shot glass of Cointreau
- One shot glass-full of tequila
- Pour the margarita mixture over the crushed ice in the glass.
A margarita can be very powerful in regards to its capacity to inebriate you – or your guests – quickly. That’s why it’s best to fill the margarita glass two-thirds full with crushed ice and then pour in the margarita mixture described above in. As the ice melts, it will dilute the margarita.
Image courtesy of KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
If you’ve never treated yourself to eating tortillas warm off the griddle (smother them in butter for best effect), then you’ve deprived yourself of one of life’s greatest simple pleasures.
The combination of the chewy tortilla smothered in butter that’s melting nicely due to the warm tortilla is far more comforting than a meal of meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy or even macaroni and cheese!
Smothered in butter warm from the griddle and these are heaven on earth!
So to help you experience this Tex Mex comfort food, take a look below at a simple and quick tortilla recipe, courtesy of Kristin Van Dyken of West Richland, Washington, via TasteOfHome.com.
You will need (to make eight tortillas):
- Two cups of all-purpose flour
- One-half teaspoon of salt
- Three-quarter cup of water
- Three tablespoons of olive oil
- A large bowl
- Dough roller
- Large nonstick skillet (coated with cooking spray)
(Van Dyken notes that you may want to double the quantity of ingredients to make 16 tortillas, as they tend to get gobbled up quickly!)
- Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Then stir in the water and oil.
- Spread flour on a surface and turn the flour mixture onto it, kneading it ten to 12 times. Make sure you add a bit of flour and water as needed in order to ensure the dough becomes smooth.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Now divide the dough into eight pieces (or 16, if you’ve doubled your ingredients) and on the floured surface, knead the pieces into 7-inch circles.
- Coat the skillet with cooking spray and take each tortilla and cook it over medium heat for one minute on each side until the tortilla is browned slightly.
You can keep the tortillas warm by wrapping them in aluminum foil or in a damp towel and placing them in a slow cooker or in the oven set on low.
If you don’t have a heat source, double wrap them in foil and then wrap the foil in a dishtowel.
You also can place them in a traditional tortilla warmer.
Each tortilla has 159 calories and 5 grams of fat (1 gram of saturated fat), with 25 grams of carbohydrates and no cholesterol. (Smother the tortilla with butter, however, and all bets are off!)
We love tortillas as much as you do and offer flour and corn tortillas as well as tortilla chips. Visit one of our Mattito’s locations soon and we’ll bring them warm to your table as soon as you ask!
“NCI flour tortillas“. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
If you love to cook Tex Mex in your home, there are certain tools you’re going to need. If you already have them, great! If not, put them on your holiday gift list and ask that they be placed under the tree.
Below are six Tex Mex cooking tools we feel you shouldn’t live without.
- To make your own tortillas, you’ll need a tortilla press (tortillero). Once only made of wood and now also made of cast iron, the press is made of two large round blocks or plates in which you place the ball of tortilla dough you made to press out the tortillas.
- Looking to make foam in your cup filled with hot chocolate? You’ll need a molinillo, which is a whisk or stirring stick made of wood. Place the molinillo into your cup of hot chocolate and spin it between your hands. Many molinillos are decorated. (You can view one here.)
- Salsa and guacamole dips always should be served in molcajete These are small three-legged bowls (the legs tend to be short and stumpy and the bowl shallow and round). Many restaurants serve salsa in cast-iron molcajete bowls, but you can purchase them in less-expensive melamine (a plastic that can be made to look like cast iron), as well.
A molcajete bowl.
- If you want to roast vegetables and chilis (or warm your tortillas), you can use a comal, which is a round, large griddle most often made of cast iron, aluminum or even clay. While most comals are about the size of plate, some can be as large as two feet in diameter.
- Fajitas you make at home should be served in a fajita skillet or platter. Most are made of cast iron and a typical skillet is 6 or 10 inches in diameter. As for fajita platters, they often are made of stainless steel and can be round or oval in shape.
- If you want to keep your tortillas warm after making, place them in a tortilla server. Traditionally made of clay, they most often now are made of plastic, polypropylene or even microwaveable plastic.
“Molcajete”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Common
Let’s be honest here: some Christmas holiday “traditions” get a bit old after awhile. The opening presents at the crack of dawn on Christmas morning. The shopping – oh, the endless shopping! – from October until December 24 just to get the “perfect” gift. The fruitcake, the eggnog, the candy canes, the chocolate (well, the chocolate we like), and on, and on, and on.
You understand what we mean: the too-much Muchness that is Christmas in the U.S. today!
The holidays in Mexico are different. They’re more in tune with what the holidays are supposed to be about: being grateful for what we have been given, spending time with family and friends, presenting gifts to children more than to adults.
So take a look below at traditional Christmas traditions in Mexico and see if you could incorporate one or more into your own celebrations this year.
Christmas traditionally is celebrated in Mexico between December 12 and January 6. December 16 is the start of the traditional Posada processions performed by children, during which they carry candles and a board that has clay figures on it of Mary and Joseph looking for a place to stay for the night.
The children go to neighbors’ homes and sing a song about the couple’s search for lodging. Each house tells those in the procession that there is no room at the house, until the last house welcomes them in. The children then say a prayer or more of thanks and a party commences with games, food and possibly fireworks. Many post-Posada parties also see the children hitting a piñata filled with candy.
Swinging at the piñata.
A different house hosts the party each night until Christmas Eve, when the children place a manger and shepherd figures on their boards and then place a baby Jesus into the manger when they reach the final house and are welcomed in.
Everyone then heads for a midnight Church service and celebrates afterwards with fireworks to mark the start of Christmas.
Christmas Eve (also known as Noche Buena) is a day for family. Many families take part in the last Posada and then have their main Christmas supper, which usually consists of rice, tamales, chiles rellenos, roast pig or turkey, menudo, as well as cider or hot fruit punches.
Christmas trees are becoming more popular in Mexico, but large nativity scenes (called Nacimiento), are displayed prominently in Mexican homes. These scenes use large clay figures – sometimes life-sized – of Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, etc. with the baby Jesus added on Christmas Eve and the Three Wise Men added at the Epiphany (January 6). It’s also traditional to eat Three Kings Cake on Epiphany.
Christmas decorations in Mexico include poinsettias in the home and evergreens decorating the home’s front door.
Unlike in the U.S., children in Mexico don’t open their gifts until the Epiphany, January 6.
All Mattito’s locations will be closed Christmas Day, but we’re open regular hours on Christmas Eve. We look forward to serving you!
Image courtesy of Yavidaxiu via Wikimedia.com and Creative Commons License 3.0.