If you’ve ever wondered what cowboys food would eat the open range you’ve come to the proper place Unlike the variability of foods prepared for both cowboys and non-cowboys to eat today what cowboys were known to dine in the 1800s and early 1900s were generally categorized into three groups I call them the staples the extras and therefore the treats.
After spring roundups cowboys herded their cattle on the trail towards a mid-western railway station where the cattle could be shipped to the Eastern markets of latest York Philadelphia or Boston as cattle drives increased within the 1860s cooks (or “cookies” as they were often known) experienced increasing difficulties in feeding the hungry mouths of the crews tending to all or any those cattle That’s about the time when a Texas Ranger and rancher named Charles Goodnight invented the chuckwagon and in 1866 partnered with rancher Oliver Loving to make the Goodnight-Loving Trail to maneuver their cattle to railheads.
Chuckwagon cooks like this “cookie” from the JA Ranch in Texas were the lifeblood of cattle drives of the Old West Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress on the long days and nights on the trail food was as important as you’ll imagine because it provided the working cowboy with comfort and nutrition On most days cowboys food were served two meals out of the chuckwagon: breakfast and therefore the evening supper with a noon meal usually taken horseback and served from a cowboy’s saddle bag.
The main principals;
Along the trail the staples of a cowboy diet consisted of beans hard biscuits dried meat edible fruit and occasional occasionally a kind of bread referred to as pan de campo (or “camp bread”) which was cooked on a skillet was also available These alongside a touch little bit of sugar were the staples of the chuckwagon pantry By dawn each morning cookie had breakfast ready because the wrangler returned with the remuda of horses the cowboys foods rose from their bedrolls placed on their hats and boots — always therein order — and straggled over to the wagon for his or her morning coffee The coffee was the always an equivalent with the cook pitching fistfuls of roasted Arbuckle beans into a pot of boiling water consistent with trail lore occasionally the cook threw a horseshoe into the pot If the horseshoe sank it had been said the coffee wasn’t quite ready! Remember these were hearty times on the open range.
Beans and bread A staple for the working cowboy of the Old West and a contemporary favorite of The Cowboy Accountant Beans made up the majority of a cowboy’s protein intake Provided in large quantities in their rations beans were during a lone amongst one in every of one among the foremost abundant foods in a traveling cowboy’s diet because beans were readily available and simply transported many recipes on the cattle drives of the American West involved beans including chili mashed beans and bean soups Cooked during a forged iron “Dutch” oven overnight beans could last for several meals; some cowboys food even repurposed the leftovers by forming them into patties and re-frying them later.
Dried meat was another important a part of the cowboy diet providing protein and energy for the long days on the drive The cowboy version of dried meat was almost like modern jerky but was drier and not as heavily seasoned as we enjoy today it had been easy to pack into a saddle bag and will be enjoyed at any time of day and under most any weather.
Cowboy biscuit contained only flour water and salt. They became hard brittle and really dry after baking for an extended time at a coffee temperature. Although they were sometimes eaten with a cowboy’s bare hands most cowboys used the biscuits to sop up coffee ate them as mush or crumbled them into stews.
Dry fruit supplemented the starch and protein that composed the mainstay of the cowboy’s diet dried apples raisins and apricots were common but berries and prunes also were available additionally to eating it plain edible fruit reconstituted in water with crumbled biscuits formed the idea of straightforward steamed cobblers and puddings.
Interestingly cowboys couldn’t always access fresh beef for the more cattle delivered to railheads made for more profit and ranchers didn’t look kindly on his cowboys food eating all his profits! Most chuckwagons occasionally had prepared deer or antelope that a cowboy killed additionally to beef from cattle that were not ready to be driven These meats would be fashioned into stews and slop and provided the cowboy an important filling meal a favorite dish on the trail was referred to as “Son of a Gun Stew” — a sort of soup made up of an animal heart Truly delicious!
Hard cheese was a crucial extra within the rations provided for cowboys by their employers Dried until hard and dipped in paraffin misfortune could last for months without spoiling and was nutritionally important thanks to its high content of fat Although the hard cheeses of the Old West were palatable they were seldom eaten raw cowboys added misfortune to chili beans or cooked them inside biscuits employing a Dutch oven.
Salted pork may be a cut from the belly and sides of a pig which is cured in salt to preserve freshness using one among the oldest food preparation techniques available It’s almost like modern-day bacon although pork wasn’t smoked and wasn’t as lean as bacon alongside eggs when available pork had the advantage of satisfying the cowboy with a hearty breakfast meal and provided a sufficient sodium intake to keep off dehydration Corn dodgers were a favorite of Rooster Coburn played by Wayne within the movie true Grit.
Corn dodgers were the Old West precursor to the fashionable day corn dog only without the hotdog within the middle! made up of simple ingredients of cornmeal salt and boiling water corn dodgers were hand formed then fried in pork grease to form a delicious treat favored by cowboys on the open range and movie cowboys alike.
American cowboys and ranchers within the 1800’s learned of sarsaparilla from the Indian and Spanish peoples they worked with Brewed from a herb smilax medical it had been delivered to Europe within the 16th century by returning Spanish soldiers as a cure for syphilis While not a reliable cure with the plant’s general strengthening and energizing benefits sarsaparilla was a useful and beneficial treatment nonetheless for several other conditions cowboys food became familiar with the drink partially thanks to the quack doctors of the day who falsely claimed sarsaparilla could cure anything and everything.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Fresh fruit and vegetables including corn apples and squash were a welcome treat for any cowboy on a drive While vegetables were a plentiful staple for those pioneers who moved westward within the early- to mid-1800s vegetables were so perishable that they weren’t an appropriate option for the chuckwagon when cowboys could get their hands on fresh vegetables and fruits they were quite happy to scarf them down without such a lot as one word eat first and talk later.
Modern cowboy cuisine;
The modern cowboy cooks who draw from an extended proud tradition are revered by ranch hands everywhere albeit their methods have improved and recipes modernized with time from Grady spears to Kent Rollins goodbye as there are cowboys food tending to cows during a pasture and searching after the land from the saddle there’ll be a requirement for and respect from working cowboys food for the efforts of those purveyors of cowboy cuisine Rancher’s Pie prepared during a traditional forged iron skillet Around our place we specialize in modern adaptations of traditional cowboy fare with most of it cooked in either a well-seasoned forged iron skillet or over an open flame even as cookie did from his chuckwagon While cowboy cooking recipes are plentiful on the web we tend to specialize in incorporating the normal staples of the working cowboy.
In this way, if you need to eat like a cattle rustler, you could saddle up your horse, gather your seat sacks with beans, hard rolls, dried meat, dried organic product, and espresso, and head out on the open reach. Then again, it would help if you thought about appreciating a supper from Grady Spears, Kent Rollins, or some other of the cutting edge cowhand cooks, and save yourself the dusty days on the path and the cool evenings under the stars. Whichever course you take, mis amigos, you also can appreciate the straightforward, reasonable charge used to fuel cowhands on the open reach for longer than a century. Cattle rustler cooking is entertaining. Cattle rustler cooking is delicious. Also, cowpoke cooking interfaces us to our western legacy.
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