“Turnip Greens & Tortillas” by Eddie Hernandez and Susan Puckett.
Angie Mosier
“Turnip Greens & Tortillas” by Eddie Hernandez and Susan Puckett.

Turnip Greens & Tortillas
By Eddie Hernandez and Susan Puckett

I love Mexican food and Southern food,  butI  had never really considered a culinary mash-up of the two until I happily flipped through Eddie Hernandez's inspired new book, Turnip Greens & Tortillas.

Eddie Hernandez, born and raised in Mexico, arrived in the U.S. chasing a rock-and-roll dream in Texas. The path changed along the way and he became a chef and restaurateur, opening the highly regarded Taqueria del Sol outlets in Georgia and Tennessee.  Hernandez makes use of what's fresh, available, and affordable in a fun and delicious way. His creative cooking philosophy was inherited from his grandmother, who ran seven bars and convenience stores in Mexico.

What do you get when you combine the bold flavors of Mexico with the down-home cooking of the South?  Bold, honest, and soulful offerings in these 125-plus recipes. You'll find fried green tomatoes with peach-habanero sauce, watermelon-jicama relish, hoppin' Juan — Hernandez's take on hoppin' John — and maybe Eddie's turnip greens, cooked with onions, garlic and chilies in homage to his beloved grandmother and how she cooked wild greens in Mexico.

There are chapters covering everything from breakfast to dessert, including an entire chapter on everyone's favorite, the taco. Each recipe pays great attention to detail to balance and contrasting flavors. Some, like the beef brisket tacos, are authentically Mexican; others are Southern-inspired, like the Memphis tacos, slow-cooked pork served with barbecue sauce and cole slaw, and, my new favorite, fried chicken tacos, two of the most crave-worthy foods joined together in holy culinary matrimony.

Oh, the fried chicken tacos! With variations on chicken coatings and sauces, and a Nashville hot version, it's up to you to try them all and see what makes you swoon.  First, select from seasoned flour, crunchy potato coating, and cracker coating for the chicken, and then choose a sauce.  Will it be jalapeno-lime mayonnaise, spicy Thousand Island, or a Tabasco-honey drizzle?

We found our winning fried chicken taco combination using the seasoned flour coating with the Tabasco-honey drizzle, adding a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro. With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, you could make an excellent taco bar using many options from Turnip Greens & Tortillas and let everyone fix and find his or her personal favorite.