Award-winning Texas food writer Robb Walsh walks readers through the best of Tex Mex regional cuisine on both sides of the border in this engrossing book for folks who are serious about their food.

“The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook” (Broadway Books, $18.99) traces Tex-Mex dishes from the mesquite fires of the Spanish vaqueros to modern-day taco trucks, offering lessons along the way on the history and origin of the food.

Did you know, for example, that Tex-Mex barbacoa (the Spanish word from which “barbecue” is derived) is almost always made from cow head because that’s what the Latino ranch hands were given as part of their pay?

Follow along with Walsh as he happens upon a taco truck in Houston that serves tripe and sweetbread tacos – a truck that has since become wildly popular with French tourists and immigrants. And learn why Americans can no longer buy outside skirt steak, which is the best meat for making fajitas.

The book features 85 recipes you can try at home, from chili rubs and pastes to complete dishes such as Beef Shortribs in Ancho-Molasses Sauce. There are seafood options, too, including a recipe for garlic grilled oysters that will surely make Mainers salivate as they rush to fire up their grills.

Walsh offers numerous how-to boxes on tasks as simple as starting a fire in your grill and as complicated as carving a top blade roast. If you’re headed to Houston or Portland, Ore., anytime soon, check out his lists of the best taco trucks in those cities and recommendations on what to order there.
– Meredith Goad, Staff Writer