During Golden Age of Pirates, 1650-1725, Pirates cooked fresh, dried and salted meat and dried beans with onions, garlic, herbs and spices (sometimes a lot of herbs and spices) aboard their ships and in ports of call.
Like some Pirates’ lives at sea, modern Road Trips are all about freedom and adventure: all things new in a short time span. At 20, I left my home State of Iowa for the Great State of Texas to visit an old high school friend in Houston. And was introduced to the real Tex-Mex: the fusion of American and Mexican food.
I visited other friends in El Paso and Austin, TX and experienced chalupas, tostadas, tacos, rice and beans, fresh jalepenos. All new, exciting, delicioso, picante, and worthy of every minute of cooking time preparing this excellent contribution to the American melting pot. Mexican and Tex-Mex are the first foods I cooked that were highly spiced.
And remember that Pirates sailed to eastern ends of the Gulf of Mexico, traded, raided, and started settlements.
Here are several healthy comfort food recipes to enjoy cooking and sharing. They are on my list of Best Tex-Mex Recipes. BBQ grilled Tex-Mex steak using a London broil, charro pinto beans, and the best cast iron skillet cornbread recipe. Mmmmmm. Are you feelin’ Texan?
Tex-Mex – The Most Loved Cuisine in Texas
Yes, doubters, Tex-Mex Cuisine is real. Texas-Mexican food fusion at its finest. It grew out of the Mexicans who have lived in Texas since the 1500’s and adapted their food to the local ingredients and American tastes. Americans loved the food and it’s part of Texas heritage. It’s delicous comfort food with its roots in authentic Mexican food recipes. Rice, beans, pork, beef, chicken, fish, tortillas, cervesas, queso, onion, garlic, and chili peppers. You can ‘modernize’ some of the ingredients to make the food healthier.
You can blend a whole Texas BBQ into Tex-Mex like I did here. I love to be cooking all day on Sunday. Coffee aroma. Charcoal grill. Simmering broth. Cut garlic. This is for a lazy Sunday with family and friends. Invite someone to help with the prep.
Charro Pinto Beans
So many of my favorite healthy Tex-Mex recipes are about beans. Cook up these Charro Pinto Beans instead of your traditional baked beans. Charro is a Mexican word for Cowboy. So, these are Cowboy beans. Kind of like a distant cousin to pork ‘n beans. To make Charro Beans Tex-Mex, I doubled the amount of fresh jalepenos, added cumin, used ancho chili, and now they better accompany this Tex-Mex version of London Broil.
- 1 pound dried Pinto beans
- 6 ounces Bacon, diced
- 1 large Yellow Onion, diced (about 1½ C for beans, rest for garnish)
- 4 fresh Jalapeños, minced (about ¾ C for beans, rest for garnish)
- 2 tsp ground Ancho chili pepper
- 2 tsp dried Mexican Oregano
- 2 tsp ground Cumin
- 2 T minced Garlic (about 4 large cloves)
- 2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 14-ounce cans Diced Tomatoes
- 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
- 6 cups Chicken Broth, in all
- 1 Bay Leaf
For serving: fresh chopped cilantro, diced jalapenos, sliced green onions, and bacon bits
- Place dried pinto beans and 4 C no-sodium chicken broth to cover on med-high heat in a 2-qt sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, beans have a tendency to stick to the pan bottom while cooking. Make sure there’s always enough broth to cover the beans, even if it’s only by a little bit. Beans should be 80-90% softened and nearly completely cooked by then.
- Heat a large pot or 4-qt Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add diced bacon and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is starting to crisp.
- Add the onions and jalapenos. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent and begin to soften. Add ancho chili, oregano, and cumin, stir and cook for 2 minutes. stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until it’s fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes with the juice and vinegar. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.
- Add beans with the liquid, 2 C chicken broth, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf. Turn up the heat to high, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until the beans are barely tender, check after about 15 minutes.
- Uncover the pot and continue cooking for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The beans will be fully cooked (some beans will begin to break down, and that’s ok, as it thickens the broth) and the liquid will be reduced and thickened.
- Taste and season with more salt or pepper as necessary. Serve with chopped fresh cilantro and jalapenos, and sliced green onions.
Tex-Mex London Broil BBQ
This Tex-Mex steak is seasoned overnight in a homemade Tex-Mex marinade, that can also be used for pork steaks, chicken, or fish. I like to use the sweet, fruity, sour, artisan-made balsamic vinegar, but you might like it better with lime or lemon juice.
- 2-3 lb London Broil – Top Round Steak, trimmed, 1 1/2″ – 2″ thick
- 2-3 Giant Texas 1015 Sweet Onions – sliced on the latitude, into 1/3″ ‘steaks’
- ¼ – 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
- 2 T Olive Oil
- 2 tsp ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tsp Thyme
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Mexican Oregano
- 1 tsp ground Ancho Chili Pepper*
- 1 tsp ground Guajilla Chili Pepper*
- 1 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- ½ tsp ground Sage (or ground Savory)
- Put the steak in a sealable container or a glass baking dish and cover it with plastic wrap. Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. Pour over the steak and tenderize both sides by repeatedly stabbing it with a meat fork a bunch of times, so the marinade goes deep within the meat.
- Marinate the London Broil in the sealed/covered dish for at least 8 hrs in the fridge, turning over a time or two.
- Set the steak on a wire rack to drain for a few minutes. Brush onion steaks with extra marinade.
- Grill meat and Onions. London Broil is usually 1 1/2″-2″ thick and it’s still fridge cold (you can warm it to room temperature if you have a thicker steak and want it more done). Grill on the first side for 5-8 minutes, depending on how you like it. Flip and grill for another 5-8 minutes.
- Grill the Sweet Onions with the steak. Remove to a warmed serving platter when they are soft.
- Let the London Broil sit for 10 minutes on a cutting board covered with foil after grilling so its juices will absorb back into the meat. Then slice the steak across the grain in 1/3″ – 1/2″ slices, and serve on the warmed platter with the grilled sweet onions.
This steak ends up seared on the outside and soft, moist, and delicious on the inside and excellent texture. The marinade is a little sour, earthy, tangy with complex tastes. Great presentation. The Onion is a sweet and sharp surprise. Adding the Charro Beans make a meal worth celebrating with friends and family for an everyday Sunday at home, or showing off on a special occasion. Serve with tortillas, or warm cornbread and butter. Add some crunch and textures with big green pitted olives, deviled eggs, green onions, and radishes. Best served with many smiles y con muchas cervesas frias.
Add this to your lists for Weekend Food Recipes, Healthy Family Dinner Recipes, Pirate Food Recipes, or Healthy Comfort Food Recipes.
For maximum health benefits, I select minimally processed ingredients. So, it’s organic, non-GMO, no hormones, no pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides. It’s sustainably grown, clean, cared for. Note there are no rice or potato dishes. Don’t need them.
* These milder and very tasty peppers are what I use. Guajillo is a ‘traditional’ beef chili pepper found in many Mexican Red Sauces. You can use what’s available: California (mild and flavorful), New Mexico (mid-heat, tastes great), or Chipotle (smoked jalapenos, snappy) chili peppers are also popular.
This be the way I cook… freedom and adventure in my kitchen. The best of healthy comfort food. Family food. Happy food. Satisfaction.
Let me know if you like to cook this way. I’d love to hear from you. And if you cooked these, how did they turn out? Please leave a comment. Or ask your questions about the food or preparation techniques.
Cooking for Pirates, where every meal is a party for a Pirate.