Cook Like a Local

"Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See the World" by Chris Shepherd. Clarkson Potter/Publishers/provided

Written by Houston chef Chris Shepherd with author and editor Kaitlyn Goalen, “Cook Like a Local: Flavors That Can Change How You Cook and See The World” is a window into Houston’s diversity.

“Local food,” Shepard writes, “should reflect the people of a place, just as much as the ingredients of a place.” He divides his cookbook into chapters dedicated to the ingredients that are gateways “to the stories, cooking styles, and relationships that have inspired my recipes,” among them, fish sauce, chiles, soy, rice, spices and corn.

The dish features two different chiles: ancho (the dried version of a poblano) and arbol (hot and nutty). It’s ideal for a fall menu. Clarkson Potter/Publishers. $35.

Butternut squash

Butternut Squash With Bacon Chile Jam. Clarkson Potter/Publishers/provided

Butternut Squash With Bacon Chile Jam


1 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, and roughly chopped

2 dried arbol chiles

1 pound bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup dry red wine

2 cups packed dark brown sugar

1 vanilla bean, split

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup granola (ideally something more savory, with no dried fruit)

Picked herb leaves, such as cilantro, parsley, or dill, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small, dry skillet, toast the chopped ancho and whole arbol chiles over medium heat, agitating the pan and flipping the chiles occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, cook the bacon over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crispy and has rendered most of its fat, about 8 minutes. Carefully strain the bacon (save the fat for another use) and return the bacon to the saucepan.

Add the red wine, brown sugar, vanilla, and chiles. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and reduce the mixture until syrupy, about 25 minutes. Remove and discard the whole arbol chiles. (The jam can be made up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Warm it up in a saucepan over gentle heat when ready to use.)

Place the squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet, cut-side up. Rub the flesh with the oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until soft when pierced with a knife. Transfer the squash halves to a big platter. Spoon the bacon jam over the squash halves and sprinkle with the granola and herb leaves.

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