TJ Green and Company Stew

By Gavin Miculka, Assistant Site Manager, Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill State Historic Sites

Texans captured after the Dawson Massacre and the Battle of Mier—including those that drew white beans—were eventually imprisoned in Castle San Carlos de Perote in the Mexican state of Veracruz. While a few managed to escape Perote Prison, most were not liberated until September 1844. Forty never saw Texas again, dying either in or en route to prison.

A handful of accounts recall Republic of Texas soldiers’ experiences during the Dawson and Mier expeditions, as well as their imprisonment in Mexico.

Thomas Jefferson Green, second in command of the Mier Expedition, published his account in 1845. Green made several references to meals and drinks prepared with their rations. Among these meals was “the very best dish we had yet cooked.”

“Respecting our rations, they were such, even without labour, as would hardly have kept soul and body together. We fortunately had a small balance of funds still by us, which had been so kindly furnished us by our friend J. P. Schatzell, and Mr. Marks, the United States vice consul in Matamoros…We also purchased sugar and coffee, and every day, at twelve o'clock, from the milkman, a gallon of leche de burra, ass's milk. When we had the means, all of our mess took a hand at cooking. Our old sailing-master, Lyon, did the outdoor catering, browned the coffee, and superintended its grinding. A soldier's wife would grind it upon a flat stone, for which she would receive toll. Daniel Drake Henrie, of whom we shall have to speak more hereafter, usually called Dan, for short, sat upon the stone with a small Indian fan, and blew the coals, while he sung 'Long, long ago,' and the 'Soldier's Tear.' Colonel Fisher would hash up the meat; Captain Reese would stand by Dan, spoon in hand, and stir the milk, to keep it from boiling over; Lieutenant Clark would beat up the peppers and peel the potatoes, while I would cut up the onions and mix in the condiments. After frequent tastings, when I would pronounce the thing right, all hands agreed that 'this was the very best dish we had yet cooked.' Thus a keen appetite made each last dish the best. Each of the mess, like artisans in a pin factory, had his separate office to fulfil, but the fulfilling of that office depended upon his first washing his hands; for as yet we were not so accustomed to the voracity of the vermin as not to make war upon them.”

Excerpt from the Journal of the Texian Expedition Against Mier: Subsequent Imprisonment of the Author, and Final Escape From the Castle of Perote (1845) by Thomas Jefferson Green.

Traditional Recipe

  • ½ lb stew beef
  • 3 small red potatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch chunks
  • ¾ medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 New Mexico red chiles, rehydrated and minced
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup milk (to be authentic, use donkey milk)
  • 2 tbsp lard
  • 1 tomato, diced*
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced*
  • ½ tsp Mexican oregano*
  • Salt to taste
  • Sliced jalapeño, diced onion, and cilantro for garnish*

*Since not specified, we took some liberties in determining which “condiments” to include.

Instructions

  1. Brown the beef in about 1 tbsp of lard over medium heat. Remove beef from pot.
  2. Add another tbsp lard to pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in chiles, diced tomatoes, and oregano.
  4. Add potatoes and return beef to pot.
  5. Add water and milk. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt to taste and add water/milk as necessary to maintain adequate broth.
  6. For serving, individual bowls can be garnished with sliced jalapenos, diced onion, and chopped cilantro

Modified Recipe

Our staff and volunteers like our stew with a few more vegetables and flavors. While still inspired by the meal prepared at Perote Prison, this stew is a little more complex…perhaps for those who aren’t limited by prison rations.

  • 1 lb stew beef
  • 4 small red potatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 New Mexico red chiles, rehydrated and minced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 6 tomatillos, quartered (for best results, toast these on the grill or under the broiler before quartering)
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 tbsp lard
  • 5 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1½ tbsp flour (optional, for thickening)
  • Sliced jalapeno, diced onion, and cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. Brown the beef in about 1 tbsp of lard over medium heat. Remove beef from pot.
  2. Add remaining lard to pot. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in chiles, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Whisk in flour (optional).
  5. Add potatoes, corn, and tomatillos and return beef to pot.
  6. Add broth and milk. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until beef is tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt to taste and add water/milk as necessary to maintain adequate broth.
  7. For serving, individual bowls can be garnished with sliced jalapenos, diced onion, and chopped cilantro.

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