Texans really go for condiments that combine intense sweet with intense heat. This type of sauce is incorporated in Texas cooking in pretty much everything from meat marinades to appetizers. And why not? Sugars and spices mix perfectly with new types of hot sauces like jalapeno jelly, ketchup-based chili sauce, and various horseradish sauces found in today’s Texas cooking.
Texas cooks probably use more Louisiana hot sauce than even Louisiana itself. The grandpa of all hot sauces, and another Louisiana product, Tabasco, has seen to be used in almost any Texas food recipe at one time or another. Many recipes call for Tabasco specifically, because of its distinctive taste.
Tabasco is made by The Mcillenny Company. They take Tabasco peppers, found only in small areas of Louisiana, and mash and age them in oak barrels, just like whiskey. The mash is combined with vinegar just before bottling.
Over the last few years, salsas have basically become the “National Sauce of Texas”, in that is it enjoyed on just about every for of Texas food. Huge assortments of salsas can be found in virtually every grocery store.
There is no doubt the popularity of salsa comes from the versatility of this flavor additive. Salsas are often used as a dip, but are much more than that. They often flavor baked potatoes, fried eggs, and just about every Texas dish imaginable. In Texas, salsas are often the base for experimentation of Texas foods.
Many Texas dishes grab heat from mustard and horseradish. These condiments were popularized by the Germans, who brought these flavors to Texas, and they remain popular today. Mustard, as a matter of fact, is the condiment of choice for most Texans, as mayonnaise usually takes a back seat on hamburgers in the state.
Variations of plain yellow mustard are also becoming popular as condiments for Texas food. Jalapeno mustard is one, as is brown mustard, which was actually brought in by central Europeans. Creole mustard was introduced by the Cajuns of Louisiana (They just keep popping up, don’t they?).
Also coming from central Europe, the horseradish root is closely related to mustard. Although most Texas recipes call for prepared mustard, which is mustard seed that is grated and bottled with vinegar, prepared horseradish provides a different heat for many dishes.
Prepared horseradish becomes bitter after about 6 months, so buy only what you will use in that time. And if you can find fresh horseradish root, buy that and grate it. Mix with just enough white vinegar to bind it together.
Most Texans just can not go far without their heat fix, so try these hot sauces and condiments as a kick to just about any Texas meal.
Billy Bristol is the writer and editor for Food in Texas, a website devoted to the celebration of tradition homemade Texas Food. With simple recipes and cooking ideas that bring out the best in classic Texas cuisine, Food in Texas is creating its own culinary legacy. Texas Cooking
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