Story by CATHERINE HOSMAN

Photos by MITCHEL BARRETT

If you are looking for a happy place to dine your worries away, Tex-Rican restaurant in Killeen offers up a taste of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine in a family-friendly establishment. Walk through the doors of the unassuming restaurant with the flag of Puerto Rico painted on the window, and you are swept away to the tropical island; you can almost feel the warm sea breeze. Latin music playing in the background has some customers moving to the rhythm while waiting for their orders.

If it is your first time dining a la Puerto Rico, ask the owner, Edwin Camuy, to steer you in the right direction. For this first-time diner of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine, Camuy prepared a chicken fricassee (stew) with Caribbean rice and plantains, and a mofungo, his specialty, with garlic shrimp and a side salad. The mofungo can be eaten by itself or stuffed with the protein entrée.

“That (mofungo) is the first dish someone would want to try if they visited Puerto Rico,” he said. “It’s the most interesting to try because it also looks nice.”

The plantain is a tropical banana and is a regional food from the island that accompanies most dishes.

Each plate was unique in its presentation and taste. The chicken was tender and fell off the bone with a touch of the fork. It was bathed in a Caribbean sauce and delicately seasoned with Puerto Rican spices. The tender garlic shrimp was fragrant and tasty.

Dessert was a cup of homemade coconut pudding.

Camuy opened his first restaurant in Harker Heights six and a half years ago before moving it to Killeen in 2013.

“This is where I could support the Caribbean soldiers. Most business for lunch comes from soldiers,” he said. “I want to bring the best Puerto Rican flavor and food to Killeen town.”

Everything is made from scratch, and Camuy said what he offers is, “real traditional flavor of the Puerto Rican food.”

The restaurant seats up to 65 customers. Patrons can dine in, carry out, or cater their next event.

For residents living on the other side of town, Camuy opened The Shack, a Caribbean seafood restaurant in Harker Heights last month.

Edwin Camuy shared his recipes for chicken fricassee with Caribbean rice with pigeon peas. This will easily serve a large family.

You will need to prepare Sofrito for Puerto Rican recipes. Specialty items can be purchased at the Puerto Rican & Caribbean Grocery Store, 105-117 E. Avenue D in Killeen, or in the Hispanic food aisle of your neighborhood grocer.

SOFRITO BASIC CONDIMENT

Step 1

  • 3 large yellow onions, peeled and cut in pieces
  • 3 large green peppers, seeded and cut in pieces
  • 6 heads garlic, peeled (or to taste)
  • 2 bunches fresh cilantro, washed and trimmed
  • ½ teaspoon whole dry oregano
  • 2 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoon adobo goya with pepper
  • 12 sweet chili peppers, seeded

Step 2

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1. Wash and mix ingredients in a bowl.

2. In a blender with a little water base, start blending all ingredients until smooth. Add oil and vinegar in Step 2.

3. Pour into a large bowl.

4. Spoon mixture into empty styrofoam egg cartons and place in freezer.

5. When frozen, empty sofrito cube in plastic freezer bags until ready to use. They will keep for a long time — makes enough to use for 15 recipes.

CHICKEN FRICASSEE (CHICKEN STEW)

Step 1

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces, washed and sprinkled with lemon juice

Step 2

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces salt pork, diced
  • 2 ounces lean ham, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced

Step 3

  • 1 cup pimento stuffed olives, cut in halves
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup Sofrito basic condiment
  • 1 teaspoon adobo goya with pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 packages sazon goya with cilantro and achiote
  • 2½ potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 4-ounce can red pimentos

Step 4

  • 1½ cup water

1. In a heavy pot, heat oil. Brown salt pork and ham.

2. Add onions and stir until onions are translucent

3. Add all ingredients in Step 3. Saute for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add water from Step 4.

4. Add chicken pieces and mix well. Cover and boil for 45 minutes on moderate heat.

5. Check for seasoning, doneness and thickness.

RICE WITH PIGEON PEAS

Step 1

  • 2 cups ham, cubed (small pieces)
  • 1 cup ham fat, diced
  • 1 cup salt pork, diced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup canola oil

Step 2

  • 2 cups pork meat, cubed and seasoned with garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped

Step 3

  • 1 cup Sofrito basic condiment
  • ½ cup olives stuffed with red pimento, cut in halves
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 2 packages sazon goya with cilantro and achiote
  • 1 jar red pimento, diced small
  • 1 teaspoon adobo goya with peppers
  • 2 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 cube beef bouillon
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 large can stewed tomatoes

Step 4

  • 8 cups medium grain rice
  • 9 cups water
  • 2 cans gandules (pigeon peas) goya with their water (you can substitute pinto or navy beans). Left over rice can be frozen.

1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Add ham fat and salt pork. Fry all together to get about two cups of fat. Add ham and cook for about five more minutes.

2. Add ingredients in Step 2 and stir-fry for 10 minutes.

3. Add all ingredients in Step 3 and stir for five minutes.

4. Add ingredients from Step 4. Turn it from bottom to top to have all of the seasoning blended. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Uncover and turn it again from bottom to top. Turn heat to low. Cover and let it cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes of cooking, uncover and turn it again. Recover and let it cook for 10 minutes.

NOTE: If rice is a little hard to the touch after cooking for 60 minutes, sprinkle a half cup of water on top, cover and let it cook for 15 minutes. Freeze leftover rice.

Catherine Hosman is editor of Tex Appeal Magazine. Contact her at editor@texappealmag.com or 54-501-7511.

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