My sister in-law gave me the El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook as a gift when I got married about 20 years or so ago. My husband grew up in El Paso (a Fort Bliss army brat), and he loved the local food. I love the cuisine of the southwest, so this was an exciting gift. It is by far my favorite cookbook.
In addition to the 13 chapters of recipes, the cookbook also includes an Introduction as well as an informative section about the must have ingredients in the El Paso pantry. The Kerr’s give us a brief history lesson on the Chile Company’s roots as well as the geography of El Paso del Norte—the pass of the north. They claim that
El Paso blends Texas, New Mexico, and old Mexico into a cultural cocktail that seems very much the best of all possible worlds. Texans think we’re New Mexico. New Mexico thinks we’re confused.
There’s no confusion here. The recipes use mostly fresh and authentic ingredients. I do admit that I haven’t made every recipe in the book (a challenge I may take up this year), but I’ve made many of them. Among my favorites are the Chiles Rellenos (my husband’s favorite), battered-dipped cheese-stuffed long green chiles, and the Spanish Mission Chicken, a dish that’s linked back to the area’s long history of Spanish Missionary work (I think, the 15 century).
Pico de Gallo, a recipe from the old Tigua Indian Cultural Center Restaurant (once the smallest Indian reservation in North America), is my dad’s favorite. He eats it straight out of the bowl as his main meal. The Sopa de Pollo is a crowd pleaser (great for large gatherings) and my daughter’s favorite (and everyone in her office). We all love the Frijoles Refritos and the Calabacitas con Crema (sautéed zucchini with green chiles and cream). My all time favorite (I hide some when I make it) is the guacamole. The Peach Cobbler and the Border Brownies are awesome as well as the irresistible 1-1-1 Margarita. We all love the enchilada recipes and many of the side dishes. The list is endless.
Every year on my mom’s birthday, I whip out the cookbook, and we have an El Paso birthday celebration. When the beautiful long green chiles or the poblano peppers start showing up in the markets around here, I pick up two or three times more than we can eat, and I make one or more of the Chile Company’s recipes. I’m thinking about making the Adobe Pie for our 4 of July barbeque this year. Double yum.
The El Paso Chile Company, at one time, had specialty stores in the local malls, and you could pick up many of the salsas, seasonings, and frozen drinks. My sister in-law sent us the frozen margarita buckets once a year for a while. Eventually, the Chile Company morphed into the Desert Pepper Trading Company (read about it here), and she sent us jars of salsa (yes, we quickly gobbled them up). Buy Desert Pepper Trading Company products here.
If you’re a lover of southwestern cuisine, the El Paso Chile Company’s Texas Border Cookbook is something you can’t live without.