Friday, November 16, 2012

50 States of MoFo: Texas: Pan de Campo (and Chili!)

If you've made more than one stop at this blog, you have probably gathered that I like bread and baking.  When I looked up traditional Texas recipes, I was surprised to find that the official state bread of Texas was something I had never heard of:  pan de campo or cowboy bread.   I had to try this!   However, it seemed a bit odd to make it on its own, so I stirred up a big pot of Texas-style chili to go with it.

For the chili, I used a recipe from one of my favorite Texans, Joanna Vaught.  The chili recipe is in her excellent book, Yellow Rose Greatest Hits.  If you don't own it, you should pick it up -- or put it on your Christmas list!   The recipe is a little quirky (no chili powder, a half a cup of coffee, etc), but the result is very authentic.

Back to the bread...   Pan de campo is pretty much a giant, quasi-steamed biscuit, cooked in a covered Dutch oven.   It makes a delicious, pleasingly dense accompaniment to chili (or, I imagine, any soup).   I consulted some recipes online, and this is what I did:

4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. vegan shortening
2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking powder
hot water (about  1 3/4 c. in my case)

Stir together the flour, salt, and baking powder.  Work in the shortening.  (I find it easiest to do this with my hands, but suit yourself if you prefer a fork or pastry blender.)   Add enough hot water (as hot as you can get it from the tap) to make everything come together in a thick dough.  It will be thicker than regular biscuits.

Grease a cast iron Dutch oven.  Shape your ball of dough into a large circle and pat it out until it fills the bottom of the Dutch oven.  Cover with the lid and place in a 400 F oven for about 25 minutes.  The top will look soft and steamy.   If you are unsure if it is cooked through, you can stick a toothpick in it.  Turn out onto a cooling rack.   Slice and serve with chili!

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