Welcome to installment number TWO of our road trip! This stop was all about visiting an old Marine buddy, who has in turn, become our family. We drove nearly 300 miles on day two to get from El Paso, Texas to Odessa, Texas, and what a beautiful day that was! We were slated to go to Carlsbad Caverns, but it didn’t work out, and we opted for more time with our friends.
We did, however stop in a small little restaurant in the teeny-weeny little town of Tornillo, Texas. We Yelped our way right to La Calesa, and leave it to me to not check in! It looked like somebody’s house, and we were nervous as we got out of the car, but they were SO NICE! We knew it would be awhile before we ate next, so we loaded up on chilaquiles, and I had a scrambled egg dish filled with green peppers and tomatoes. The madre did all the cooking, and everything was great, but I tell ya, the tortilla chips were fried fresh, and the salsa… I mean, I didn’t NEED anything but the salsa and chips! They were so good. La Calesa is a beautiful gem if you find yourself on I-10 on your way from El Paso to Odessa or vice versa.
We drove and drove, and we got into Odessa around noon time. It was definitely a family affair, as the father was in charge of all meats. We had smoked brisket awaiting us, and I had the privilege of witnessing the making of Asado! It was all about the Asado for me though. I’ve had brisket before, but anything new, like Asado, and my ears are perked!
Asado is a dish that is local to West Texas, and everybody raves about it. NOT to be confused with carne asada, asado is a pork dish that is slow cooked in an ancho (and sometimes pasilla) chile sauce. There are onions, garlic, and herbs too, but it’s mostly all chile. The pork gets cooked first in what is called a “disco,” which is also known as a Mexican Wok. It’s a part of a plough that resembles a wok, and West Texans weld horseshoes onto either side to use as handles. Stick it on a propane burner, and you’re good to go!
I had never had a dish like this, and I could not get my fill! The father definitely made sure that I was well fed during the process. It was really great to visit with him, and hear his stories. I had never met him before – he is the father of the hubs’ good Marine buddy’s wife. Got that?! Haha. I felt as if I was part of their family – the only white girl in the house!
In fact, I loved the dish so much, that I had to re-create it at home. I had no disco, but a dutch oven worked nicely!
I served mine with whole grain tortillas, red cabbage, fresh made salsa, cilantro & onions, cotija cheese, and lime wedges. So. Dang. Good!
As the night went on, we drank our Red Hook IPA, and got all silly. Visiting Odessa though, I learned a few things:
- Fracking is bad for the environment. We all knew this already, but it is something that has become a part of the families lives who live there. Not only does it destroy the land, it destroys the water supply. Some residents won’t drink the water from certain companies because it’s not treated properly and/or it’s contaminated. Texas also faces drought just like my California home, and precious water that could be used for crops is used for fracking instead. Farmers don’t have enough water to sustain their cattle and crops, which forces them out of business in some cases.
- Oil is a way of life. Many, many people work in the oil fields, and there is always danger involved. When we went outside at night, you could see the soft glow of oil rigs’ flames (this is common, I think!), and could even smell the oil in the air at night. All of that was strange to me, but it was even more strange that it was simply a way of life. My eyes were definitely opened on this trip across America. People across this great country have very different lifestyles and circumstances.
- They have an awesome Cupcake Maker! Wow, talk about the best home-made strawberry cupcakes I’ve ever had! Wow. There was no artificial junk in those! I only wish I had snapped a photo of them!
- We have some DAMN GOOD FRIENDS! I couldn’t believe the lengths that our hosts went to make sure that we were well fed (well into the next day, actually), and had a comfortable place to rest our weary heads. I love them SO SOOOO MUCH! Thanks guys!
We were up at the crack of dawn in the morning, and on our way to Austin Texas!
The map of places we went (and also places that were planned that we didn’t get to go to – Carlsbad Caverns):
View Odessa TX in a larger map
While in Texas, it’s only fitting to be listening to:
Pantera – Cowboys From Hell
- For The Sauce
- 15 Dried Ancho/Pasilla Chiles
- 2 Cloves Garlic
- 2 Teaspoons Salt, divided
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Cup Water
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- For The Pork
- 3 Tablespoons Canola Oil or Bacon Fat
- 1 Large Onion, diced
- 1 Head Garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
- 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 Cup Porter Beer (I used Stone’s Smoked Chipotle Porter)
- Bring a medium pot of water up to a boil. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, de-stem and de-seed the dried chiles, and place in a large bowl.
- Crush two cloves from the garlic head, and place in the bowl along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Pour the water over the chiles, garlic, and salt, and let sit for 3 hours, until the chiles are very soft.
- Discard the water, and place the chiles in a blender with 1/2 cup water. Puree until very smooth, and no chunks remain.
- It should yield about three cups.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat, and add the oil. Add diced onion, and saute until translucent, about 10 minutes. Finely dice the remaining cloves of garlic from the head, and add to the onions, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring continually. Add in the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and oregano and stir to combine.
- Season the pork with the salt and pepper, and add to the dutch oven, searing the meat, about 3 minutes per side.
- Deglaze the pan with the Porter, then add in the chile sauce, and stir to coat the meat. Turn the heat down to low, and cover, stirring occasionally to make sure the bottom isn’t burning. Cook the mixture for three hours, or until the pork is tender.
- Serve with tortillas, salsa, cotija cheese, cilantro & onions, and lime wedges!
Follow the links to experience the entire USA Road Trip!
USA Road Trip #1: Tombstone & Bisbee, Arizona
USA Road Trip #2: Odessa, Texas
USA Road Trip #3: Austin, Texas
USA Road Trip #4: Fort Worth, Texas
USA Road Trip #5: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Denver & Boulder, Colorado
USA Road Trip #6: Yellowstone
Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought says
What fun! I am enjoying your road trip.
Looks like some good grub!
Natalie Wiser-Orozco says
Christy @ Confessions of a Culinary Diva says
What a fun road trip and way to discover some great new eats. Your West Texas Asado looks amazing. It’s going in the file for football season eats.
Natalie Wiser-Orozco says
Heck yeah! The Asado would be great for football season!
hey didn’t know your husband is a jarhead – ooh rah! pass along a Semper Fi for me. pics are ridiculous as usual. what’s your camera? canon?
Natalie Wiser-Orozco says
I did, Nathan, and he said ooh rah right back! I’m using a Nikon D40x – they don’t make them anymore, but I think I’m finally ready for an upgrade anyhow. I feel like I’ve maxed this one out. Using a 1.8 50mm fixed lens – makes all the difference in the world! Natural light always, because I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t do any night-time photog. They come out… just bad. Cheers, and it’s good to hear from ya!
think i need to look into a better lens. agree re: natural light there’s just no comparing anything else
MJ Rios says
Wow… I was merely taking a wiki walk looking up Texas Asado (local dish that it is) and I had the surprise of my life seeing a picture of my Uncle Pete and my cousins staring back at me! I’m glad you enjoyed the food. And yes, their Asado is divine!
Natalie Wiser-Orozco says
That’s pretty cool MJ!! We had such a blast hanging with the family!