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Month: September 2023

Texas Ranger Chili

A cowboy and a word slinger walk into a test kitchen in Giddings, Texas. Frank Malinak III and Lorie A. Woodward, respectively. They are equipped with a pound of Lee county’s finest ground beef and wild game meat from a medium size Nilgai (also known as a South Texas Antelope). They come locked and loaded with stories of Frank’s service with the Texas Rangers and a deep reverence for the land and people that sustain Texas communities.

This is a story celebrating 200 years of Texas Rangers history. Because of the time tested service of the men and women of the Texas Rangers, our small group of Texans had the freedom to share a meal in comfort. Actually, the ultimate comfort food – chili. 

At Gourmet Divas’ fabulous kitchen store and demonstration kitchen, I had the absolute pleasure of catching up with Frank Malinak III, Assistant Chief Texas Rangers, Retired in Giddings, Texas. Moving through the distinguished ranks of the Ranger organization, Frank ended his career as second in command – Assistant Chief.  He is now County Judge of Lee County. You see, Frank and I both have roots in Lee County, our Great-Grandfathers Will and Englebert Reuther were brothers. So I asked him, what would a Texas Ranger cook?

According to the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco,  everything we know about the earliest days of the Texas Rangers comes from memoirs of individuals who served. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum preserves history through pictures, stories, and memorabilia. According to the TRAF, “During the early years of the Frontier Battalion, the battalion’s quartermaster supplied each Ranger company with a set ration consisting of flour, bacon, beef, coffee, sugar, salt, soda, soap, vinegar, pepper, candles, potatoes, onions and rice. A ration was the amount of each of these items an individual Ranger would consume in one day, and the company orderly sergeant was required each month to write out a list of how much was on hand of each item. Many accounts mention the ease of finding wild game and fish.”

Now, back to our modern kitchen in Giddings. Wild game? Check. Beef? You bet. Get Frank’s “On the Trail” Chili recipe at the bottom of this article and watch our cooking episode on our Texicureans youtube channel

Sometimes the best recipe is knowing where your ingredients come from and cooking them up the way only you know how. Bonus if you’re in the kitchen with people who share your traditions. There is beauty in consistency. There is longevity in honoring the basics. 

Frank said it best, “Ranger history is framed by traditions going back 200 years, including our unmistakable western heritage. The pathway of our future is made all the brighter by those who walked before us. Nothing is so powerful as knowing past generations are counting on you to accept the baton and carry it forward. I hope future historians look back at our time and see an unbroken chain of dedicated men and women who wear a badge that stands for justice and freedom.” 

200 Years of Texas Rangers

Assembled in 1823 to protect the early settlers of Texas, Stephen F Austin was given command of this legendary law enforcement agency.  Drawing on their collective skills, Native Americans, Tejanos, Anglo-Europeans, and African Americans signed up to “range” and protect the colonies.  Hence it was said that a Texas Ranger could “ride like a Mexican, trail like an Indian, shoot like a Tennessean, and fight like the devil.”

Legendary Texas Rangers John Coffey Hays, “Bigfoot Wallace” and William McDonald helped form the enigma of the Texas spirit.  The Institute of Texas Cultures states that “Next to the Alamo, the Texas Ranger is the best-known part of the Texas Legend…”

This legacy continues with training that is considered second to none, for the 172 highly selected men and women who proudly wear the boots, white hats and pistol belts of their predecessors.  And of course, there is that iconic Cinco Peso badge.   

“The Texas Rangers are among the most revered law enforcement divisions in the country for a reason.  The elite and storied Rangers are men and women of integrity and moral fortitude, willing to risk their lives in selfless service to the state of Texas”.  Steve C McGraw, Director, Texas Department of Public Safety 

Organized into 6 companies: Company “A” Houston, Company “B” Dallas, Company “C” Lubbock, Company “D” McAllen, Company “E” El Paso, Company “F” Waco, and Headquarters in Austin.  The Rangers continue the traditional jobs conducting criminal and special investigations, apprehending wanted felons, suppressing major disturbances, protecting life and liberty, and rendering assistance to local law enforcement officials. 

A Special Operations Group has been formed in recent years to counter terrorist activity, criminal threats, and drug trafficking organizations. 

Explains Lacy Finley, executive director of the Texas Ranger Association Foundation, “We know these things about their service:  There is no time off, one Late-night call easily becomes many more, Rangers find themselves in difficult situations, they have a servant’s heart, and could easily have followed careers in the private sector.”

The enigma of the Texas Ranger has inspired novelists, actors, and film-makers.  The Lone Ranger, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Lonesome Dove have all dramatized the heroic mystic of the Texas Ranger.  In the 1936 movie The Texas Rangers, Fred Mac Murray who portrays a Texas Ranger is met by leading citizens who are alarmed that there is only one Ranger to clean up their town.  “Only one fight, ain’t there?” replies McMurtry in a paraphrase of the famous “One riot, one Ranger” line.

Texas Rangers are a seamless, selfless, ambassador for our way of life back to the earliest days. Can of beans and all. Thank you for your service, Frank, and reminding us what Texas cooking is really all about — the people you’re feeding.

For more Texas recipes, tips, and stories, sign up for our recipe club emails and follow Texicureans on all social platforms.

Ranger Frank Chili

Course Main Course
Servings 6


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound game meat
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 2 8 oz tomato sauce 2 cans
  • 1/2 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can rotel tomatoes
  • chili powder several shakes to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Harley's seasoning from Giiddings, Texas or sub with fajita seasoning to taste
  • 1 cup water


  • Brown meats with chopped onion
  • add tomato sauce, petite diced tomatoes, rotel tomatoes and stir
  • add chili powder, garlic powder, pepper, seasoning and stir
  • add 1 cup water and cook, stirring for about 10 minutes


Chicken in Wine

Wine, mushrooms, and thyme combine for a meal worthy of your family or company!

Another Tyler Junior League cookbook rendition, I’ve prepared this dish for my family for many years and it always pleases.  Here’s a hint, if you haven’t finished a bottle of wine in a couple of days, place the remainder in the fridge to use in this dish.

One frying pan does it all – from browning the chicken to making the sauce.  Place the chicken in the preheated oven for about one hour while you relax with a glass of wine.  What could be better?


Chicken in Wine - East Texas Style

Butter, wine, and mushrooms
5 from 1 vote
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4


  • 3 pounds cut chicken pieces with bone and skin
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 cloves diced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 oz sliced baby Bella mushrooms


  • Heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Salt and pepper chicken pieces
  • Melt butter in skillet and saute garlic
  • Add chicken and fry about 3-4 min on each side until brown.
  • Remove chicken to an oven proof dish
  • Add flour to butter in frying pan.  Stir until smooth.
  • Add stock, wine, thyme, and mushrooms and cook about 3 - 5 minutes.
  • Pour sauce over chicken and bake covered for 1 hour.


Cheese Straws

Spicy with cayenne, these crispy cheese crackers boast only five ingredients.  And they freeze well to pull out for quick wine accompaniment.

Another Tyler Junior League cookbook recipe, this traditional southern fare is worth revitalizing when you have left over cheese that needs to be used.  Or simply snag a 3 cup bag of shredded cheese.

I used a Mexican blend cheese, but you can get creative with cheese you have on hand.  The intensity of heat can be adjusted as well by adding or subtracting cayenne.  I have also thrown in red chili flakes in addition to the cayenne.

Don’t get caught up on the perfectness of each straw, you can buy that in a box at the store – celebrate your homemade spirit!

Click here for How-to video

Cheese Straws

Bake, freeze, and pull out with a glass of wine
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American


  • 3 cups grated cheese
  • 2 sticks butter (16 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups unbleached flour


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  •  Cream cheese and butter together
  • Add salt and cayenne and blend together
  • Mix in flour.
  • Place ball on parchment paper, place another parchment paper on top and roll out to about 1/4” thickness.
  • Cut into about approx 4” strips
  • Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes

Chocolate Cake Roses

They are pretty, They are chocolaty bites of goodness.

Silicone molds are a game changer for pretty individual cakes.  Spray the mold with an oil, fill, and pop in the oven for a quick, attractive presentation. Once they cool from the oven, you can push the cakes out from the bottom. This chocolate cake recipe requires no icing.

We are talking about the Texas Rose Festival this month and this recipe comes from an old Tyler Junior League cookbook.  Sometimes the tried and true recipes combined with a new twist (silicone molds) do the trick!

Click here for How-to Video

Chocolate Cake Roses

No icing needed!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 10


  • 6 TBSP cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 8 oz butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tbsp vanilla


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Cream sugar and butter
  • Add beaten eggs, flour, buttermilk, soda, cocoa, and EVOO
  • Add hot water, mix, and stir in vanilla
  • Pour into 6 rose molds and remainder into an 8 x 8 pan
  • Bake for approximately 30 minutes


Cake doesn’t need to be iced and freezes well.