November marks the beginning of the holiday season and most people around the country will stick to the traditional oven-baked turkey with stuffing and apple pie, while Texans bring out the turducken, cornbread and empanadas! The holidays are always a great excuse for us Texans to indulge in the amazingly savory food that is infused with unique German-American and Mexican-American cultures. Although Texans see these great foods all year long, here are the top 10 Texas holiday foods that are a must at any holiday gathering.
10. Smoked BBQ Turkey
Of course what would the holidays in Texas be without our BBQ? Exactly. That’s why we even smoke our turkey during the holidays. Austin’s very own Franklin Barbeque shares their secret Thanksgiving recipe for a turkey slow roasted to juicy perfection.
9. Unsweetened or Sweetened Iced Tea
When it comes to a typical Texas lunch or dinner, there is always an option of unsweetened or sweetened iced tea, even in the cooler winter and fall months. In fact, it is so common that going into a restaurant or store without iced tea would be unheard of to a Texan. While some people may request eggnog or hot chocolate at restaurants during the holidays, us Texans will stick to the simple request of iced tea. Looking for a good recipe? Clayton Christopher, the founder of Austin-based Sweet Leaf Tea Company shares his iced tea recipe with Texas Monthly.
With the rich Mexican traditions found in Texas, for many, tamales are one of the holiday staples. Tamales come steamed to perfection wrapped in a dried corn husk paper, followed by a warm masa (corn-based dough) filled with meat, cheese or fruit. Tamales LEO provides some of the best tamales during the holidays that are always a warm bundle of goodness for anyone to enjoy during the holidays.
If you have never experienced the deliciousness of an empanada, you either don’t live in Texas or live under a rock. Empanadas are basically pies with a flaky outside, formed into a pouch, and filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit. Try an empanada with pumpkin filling and you will see why this is a top Texas traditional holiday favorite.
Sopapillas are another traditional Mexican decadency that Texans love. They are basically the dessert version of an empanada. Sopapillas are fried dough bread with an airy center topped with a delicate dust of cinnamon and sugar and drenched in honey. Sopapillas are a better substitute for boring donuts during the holiday months and leave you in a daze of happiness at the end of your meal.
Everything is bigger in Texas and this three meat monster is an east Texas favorite. Turducken is the result of a de-boned chicken, stuffed in to a de-boned duck, stuffed into a de-boned turkey, filled with a sausage meat or breadcrumb mixture and roasted, braised, grilled or barbequed. Why limit yourself to one choice of a main meat dish, when you could have three- in-one?
What does Texas and the Czech Republic have in common? Kolaches. It is hard to fathom how Texas has Czech food influences, but then again, it doesn’t really matter when you bite into this warm delicious pastry. Kolaches are rolls of dough filled with fruit, cheese or sausage and are found in Texas bakeries year-round and especially in Texas homes during the holidays. One thing that separates the Texas Kolache from the traditional Czech pastry is the German cultural influence found in Texas that makes Texas kolaches better than the rest.
Texas chili is a Texas tradition. Texas chili is a combination of beef, flavoring and homemade chili paste to top it off. As the cooler fall and winter months come around, expect the aroma of chili to fill the homes of many across Texas.
Variations of cornbread are found throughout the south, but none are better than the Texas variations of cornbread. In Texas, cornbread is filled with a variation of one to three of these ingredients: cheese, cream-style corn, green chilies, buttermilk, jalapenos, sour cream or onions. Austin Chef Shelly Pogue keeps the Texas tradition with her Cheesy Skillet Jalapeno Cornbread Recipe.
1. Pecan Pie
A holiday season in Texas couldn’t be complete without pecan pie for dessert. Although it didn’t originate in Texas and is a Southern U.S. tradition, the Pecan tree is the Texas state tree so we’ll claim it anyways. You can never go wrong with The Driskill’s Signature Pecan Pie Recipe, Texas style; this pie will be a continued tradition for many years to come.
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