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Month: October 2023

Scott’s Tender Fried Back Strap

This is the season where food truly ties us all together. Family recipes at Thanksgiving. Grandma’s special way of prepping the food. How you cook your turkey matters – brined, stuffed, fried, or roasted?  Better yet, who is in charge of the turkey? Maybe y’all don’t even have a turkey, but enjoy wild game. Every Texas home is different. But we share the traditions of coming together and showing gratitude for where we live and who we are around.

I would argue that Texans are made for this season. Whether you are a first cousin or neighbor who just moved to town, all are welcome to gather round the table or the campfire, talk about life and the simple things that bring us all together.

I would argue that “opening weekend” kicks us off.

The term “Opening weekend” is almost sacred in Texas, denoting either the beginning of dove, deer, duck, turkey, or quail season – to name a few. Events and even weddings are planned around it, and the quintessential “lease” is secured well in advance of this date.

ATV’s on trailers heading up and down Texas highways, every type of “camo” on sale in stores, and folks snagging a hunting license are indications the season is near.

Although less evident in metropolitan areas, rural towns and country sides where hunting is prolific become abuzz with folks excited about being in the country, catching a glimpse of wildlife, and reveling in nature.

Although I’m not a hunter, my husband and sons enjoyed many bonding weekends at the hunting lease along with close friends.  The campfire at the end of the day seemed to be their favorite part of the weekend aside from the big hunt in early mornings and late afternoons.  Here stories, jokes, and general bragging took center stage – creating memories and opportunities for adults to pass their legacy to the next generation.

Texas Wildlife Association 

The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), a non-profit, “serves Texas wildlife and its habitat, while protecting property rights, hunting heritage, and the conservation efforts of those who value and steward wildlife resources.”  With headquarters in New Braunfels, the TWA was founded in 1985 by a group of ranchers, wildlife managers and hunters dedicated to the conservation, management, and enhancement of wildlife and wildlife habitat on private lands.

Since 95% of Texas land is privately owned, hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers and conservationists recognized the necessity of working cooperatively with private landowners on wildlife, habitat and conservation issues.  TWA recognizes these landowners hold the key to the well-being of wildlife, game, nongame and rare species located on their land.

The TWA offers conservation programs for youth, adults, families and teachers.  Also, youth and adult “learn to hunt” programs are offered.  For a full list of programming or to join the Texas Wildlife Association, go to Texas-wildlife.org/membership or call 800 Tex-Wild.

In honor of the significance this season has for Texans, we met with Scott Heneke, who shared his family’s secret, but simple technique for tenderizing meat.

Fried Backstrap Recipe

Scott Heneke is an avid hunter who delights in sharing his property full of white-tail deer and other exotics with his children and occasional hunters.

A multi-generational Texan, and Real Estate Investor by profession, Scott spends his weekends hunting and fishing as much as time allows.  His heart lies in his ranch in George West where his family retreats during the holidays.

“Our immediate and extended family – aunts, uncles, cousins all spend time together away from the hustle of life to recharge.  Watching the white-tail, Axis, Oreck, bison, Sika, and Waterbuck roam intermingled with an early morning hunt with my kids is a happy place for my wife, Collette and me.”

So, of course a recipe for fried white-tail back strap is second nature to Scott.  He loves preparing this for his family and for the first time is sharing his Grandmother’s SECRET technique for tenderizing that cut of meat.

Are you ready?  Here we go!

Here’s the best part – no special tool required!  And you should be able to use a fork (no knife) to cut through it.

Click Here for the Video!

Scott's Tender Fried Back Strap

A family secret - revealed!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 12 white tail or axis back strap
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • peanut oil
  • 3 cups Flour
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Remove the silver layer on each back strap. Butterfly each piece. Lay out the back strap filets on a wood cutting board. Take a saucer or plate, and using the edge of the plate cut through the meat working across the full cut, You know you've cut through correctly when you hear the sound of the plate hitting the wood, The meat will be flattened to about 1/3"
  • Scramble the 6 eggs with the milk in a large flat bowl.
  • Add flour to a large flat bowl.
  • Dip back strap alternatively in flour, egg mixture, and bacon to flour.
  • Heat 3-4 inches of oil in a frying pan - preferably cast iron to about 350 degrees.
  • Gently lay about 3 back straps in the pan leaving room between the pieces to keep the oil hot. (adding too much meat will cool the temperature of the oil). Fry until golden brown.
  • Remove from the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place cooked meat into a brown paper sack to keep hot and this will also keep it from getting soggy. (another of Scott's grandmother's tips!)


Cheesy Crispy Cornbread


Chili and cornbread, pinto beans and cornbread:  What could a be better pairing?!

Texas Ranger, Retired, Frank Malinak’s Chili or Pinto Beans, Instantly both call for cornbread as the perfect accompaniment.  On the trail, a Texas Ranger would have most likely used a cast iron skillet, and quite honestly – it’s my favorite way to make cornbread.

The added cheese and frozen corn gives it that extra comfort food element.  I also like to add a chopped jalapeño, a little extra cheese and chopped onion to beef it up.  You can also substitute the EVOO with bacon drippings if you so desire.

I know it sounds a little crazy, but I’ve also topped this cornbread with a little honey.   The sweet and savory are delightful.

If you freeze a a portion – which works beautifully, I recommend warming it back up in the oven as opposed to the microwave – it will add back the crispiness.

Cheesy Crispy Cornbread

A cast iron frying pan delight
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 10


  • 10 inch cast iron frying pan


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried, minced garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp EVOO, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn


  • Preheat a 10 inch cast iron frying pan in a 350 degrees oven.
  • Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar, garlic, onion powder, and salt.
  • Add remaining ingredients (only 3 tbsp EVOO) and stir until just combined.
  • Remove pan from oven and add 1 tbsp EVOO to pan - spreading to cover.  Pour batter into pan and return to oven.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.


You can also add 1 chopped jalapeño, 1/4 cup more cheese, and approximately 1/4 cup more chopped onion without drastically changing the recipe.  
You can also substitute bacon drippings for the EVOO if desired.

Video Here

Pinto Beans – Instantly

This month, we are celebrating 200 years of Texas Rangers history!

Retired Texas Ranger Frank Malinak shared his chili recipe.  He made it “sans” the beans.  But on the trail, dried beans were easy for early Texas Rangers to carry and prepare in a large dutch oven over a fire.

We are drastically simplifying the prep time by using a fairly new appliance called an instant pot.  And its heavenly!  Quick, tasty, and easy – these beans are a hearty side dish or you can  use it as your main course with some side greens.

Also, left overs can be used in a taco salad!

I encourage you to rediscover dried beans.  They are economical and full of nutrition.  My system is to buy one of each kind of dried bean and peas, cook a different one each week, and restock when gone.  Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best!


View Video Here

Pinto Beans - Instantly

Insta-pot cuts time and adds flavor
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • Instant pot


  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • 1/2 pound bacon slices
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 jalapeños, chopped and seeds removed
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried mexican oregano
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 14 oz organic chopped tomatoes
  • Cilantro for garnish


  • In a large frying pan, cook bacon until almost crisp. Cut into 1 - 2 " pieces
  • Remove bacon and add onion, jalapeño, and garlic to pan. Cook until soft
  • In instant pot, layer dried beans, bacon, soy sauce, dried herbs, cooked onion, garlic, and jalapeno,
  • Pour broth over all and lightly stir
  • Add tomatoes
  • Close the lid and turn venting knob to sealing position. Pressure cook at high pressure for 45 minutes, and then naturally release knob for 20 minutes.
  • To thicken, stir with a spoon using the "saute" function. Taste and season accordingly.

200 Years of Texas Rangers

In preparation for cooking chili with retired Texas Ranger Frank Malinak, I went on the trail to learn more about the history of the Texas Rangers. Turns out, the YO Ranch, founded by Captain Charles Schreiner has a history of hosting retired Rangers. The photo album above is courtesy of Darren Casey and YO Ranch. Thank you for giving Texicureans a glimpse of our Texas heroes.

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.

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