June 15, 2015
For the past several weeks, Becky’s weekly recipe on Studio 5 has featured a family favorite. This recipe is courtesy of Tim Pierson (UofU student & Dairy Council staff) – it’s a recipe, a memory, and a tradition all in one.
**Notes: This recipe is really easy to double and change for heat preferences. I like to add close to 1/4 cup of a Pequin/Mexican chili powder mixture to make it EXTREMELY hot… but the 1 1/2 tbsp seems to be just right for everyone else.**
In a large pan, sauté pepper and onion in butter. While vegetables are cooking, brown beef in a large pot with olive oil (to prevent sticking), drain the all juice and oil released during cooking. Add the vegetables to the pot with the beef, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir it all together well and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and cover, then place into the hot oven. Check after 30 min and stir well (rice will settle to the bottom), place back into the oven for 30 min more. Check rice once more, if necessary more water can be added in small amounts to thin. Cook further until rice is tender, if needed.
For years our family has been gathering every Sunday at my Nana’s for what we call “family dinner.” My Nana, though very skilled in the kitchen, keeps to her Oklahoma roots when it comes to cooking for a crowd. It serves as a no frills and no fuss zone, but full of real good eats. Generally, she will rotate her hearty old fashioned repertoire of meals—spaghetti, corn chowder, hamburger stew, potato soup, and the beloved Texas hash—each week. A salad is served with every meal and includes all the “fixins” from cucumber slices and radishes to cheese and more cheese (in my case). Then a homemade bread of some fashion will be available for the taking; onion bread, garlic bread, or corn bread, each have their respectful place along side the meal for the taboo art of dipping and mopping.
My Nana is a dyed-in-the-wool “Okie” and anyone who is familiar with Oklahoma knows that there is a thing called “the Oklahoma way of life” which is comprised of equal parts friendliness and hospitality with pride for the past and hope for the future. This is the attitude she was raised with and continues to live by to this day. It is impossible to go over without being asked, “Are you hungry? What can I make you?” And if you happen to bring a friend or random person off the street they will be fed as well—with the option of it being vegetarian because that is doable, but not recommended. One of the things you will notice about families from the southern plains is their unique ability to get some sort of meat into every dish. Family dinner is no exception to this kind of skilled cooking, but there is always a vegetarian option on the side for those who wish.
Perhaps all of these favored meals comes from the upbringing of my family in a place that began as an Indian Territory, was hit hard by the Depression, and later boomed with oil fields. They needed recipes that were adaptable for feeding few or many, cheap, and convenient. Nana’s Texas Hash does all of these things, and can be changed to make a small amount, large amount, and even increase or decrease the amount of heat.
My Nana has been making this meal since 1962, so she has had many years to perfect it to her likings. When I first asked her for the recipe a couple of years ago, it went something like this:
“Sauté one or two green peppers and an onion in some butter or oil. Brown up some hamburger 1 or 2 lbs and be sure you drain that well. Mix all of that in a large stock pot and add some tomatoes then a can of tomato paste and repurpose the can to add one can of water. Then you want to add in a couple cans of tomato sauce and a can or so of that too! Then add some rice, salt, pepper, chili powder, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce, just to make it taste right. Give it a good stir and add some ketchup so it doesn’t get too rice-y. Bring it to a boil, then cover and put it in the oven until it is done.”
So it was pretty much left up to my discretion, but it sure did not turn out the way hers does. I recently asked her to write down exactly what she does while making it, and FINALLY we have an actual recipe for it.