Out West, cowboys and ranchers relied on their skills for cooking real food. This is a collection of original cowboy recipes from the 1800s-1900s that were passed down through generations of Amish families in Lancaster County Pennsylvania.
The “cowboy food in the 1800s” was a time where cowboys would cook for themselves. They would use whatever ingredients they had on hand to make their meals.
Ranch cooks and cattle team cooks had an essential role and held immense influence in the days of cowboys and cattle drives. Cowboys were usually on their best behavior with the chef because the cook controlled whether a cowboy enjoyed a nice lunch after a long day of wrangling cattle. Even the lawmen of the day couldn’t persuade cowboys to behave that well.
We give four classic cowboy dishes in honor of the old Western ranch chef, which you may make the next time you want to channel your inner John Wayne. Enjoy.
Beans for Cowboys
pinto beans, 2 pound
2 lbs. of ham hocks
2 chopped onions
a quarter cup of sugar
2 chilies verdes
1 tomato paste can
Soak the beans overnight after washing them. Drain the beans and set them in a Dutch oven with enough water to cover them. Stir in the other ingredients and cook until the beans are cooked.
Biscuits made with sourdough
1 cup starter for sourdough (see below)
1 teaspoon sodium chloride
sugar (one teaspoon)
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tblsp. vegetable shortening
3 to 4 cups flour
In a mixing dish, combine the flour and sourdough starter. Combine the salt, baking soda, sugar, and shortening in a mixing bowl. Dough should start to form at this point. Continually add flour until the dough becomes firm. Pinch a piece of dough, shape it into a ball, and coat it with melted shortening. In a Dutch oven, place the biscuits. Allow for a 20-minute rising time for the biscuits. Then bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until they’re done.
Starter for sourdough
You’ll need sourdough starter in order to produce sourdough. Here’s how to put it together.
2 cups potato water, warmed
flour (two cups)
1 teaspoon of sugar
To begin, chop up a couple of medium sized potatoes into cubes and boil them in 3 cups of water until they are cooked. Measure two cups of potato water and make a paste with flour and sugar. Allow the mixture to rise in a warm area. When it’s finished rising, it should have doubled in size.
Stew of Sonofabitch
This beef stew was a favorite of cowboys in the American West. It was also known as rascal stew or by the name of a notorious individual from the period. Some cowboys dubbed it Cleveland Stew in (dis)respect of President Grover Cleveland’s eviction of cowboys from the Cherokee Strip. If you’re not a fan of eating animal organs, this one isn’t for you. If you want to grow some hair on your chest, though, sit down and pound this meal down.
2 lbs. of lean meat
a calf’s half-heart
Calf liver weighing 12 pounds
1 set sweetbreads (for you city slickers, that’s the thymus gland)
a single brain
1 marrow guts set
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Hot sauce from Louisiana
1 inch pieces of beef, liver, and heart Make rings out of the marrow gut. Fill the Dutch oven halfway with water and add these ingredients. Allow for 2 to 3 hours of simmering time. Season with salt, pepper, and spicy sauce if desired. Sweetbreads and brains should be chopped into tiny pieces and added to the stew. Cook for another hour.
Cowboy Coffee is a kind of coffee made by cowboy
Coffee was a must-have for cowboys on the trek. A cowboy could shake off the stiffness from sleeping on the hard desert ground with a cup of hot coffee, and it was also a wonderful way to wash down the morning sour dough biscuits. Cowboys, on the other hand, didn’t have access to expensive coffee makers or french presses. They had to travel light, so all they had to boil their coffee in was a metal coffee pot with no filter. It doesn’t matter. Even a cowboy can brew a fine cup of coffee. Here’s how to do it.
- Over your campfire, bring water to a near-boiling temperature.
- Pour the coffee grinds directly into the water. That’s correct. Filters are for those who live in the city.
- Stir the coffee for a minute or two over the heat.
- Remove the pot from the heat and put it aside for a minute or two to enable the coffee grinds to settle to the bottom. To expedite the settling process, add a splash of cold water.
- Pour the coffee carefully into your tin cup, keeping the grounds in the pot.
- With your left thumb in your belt loop and your coffee cup in your right hand, stand around the fire. Take a few calm sips and think about the journey ahead.
Watch This Video-
The “chuck wagon recipes dutch oven” is a recipe that was served to the chuck wagons of cowboys. It is a hearty meal that can be made with ingredients found in the outdoors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is traditional cowboy food?
A: Traditional cowboy food is what people in the western United States eat. This includes beef, beans, and biscuits.
What did Old West cowboys eat?
A: They would eat corn and beans, which are still staple crops in the United States today. Other staples of the Old West cowboys diet were buffalo meat, wild turkey, deer antlers, seaweed (of course), prairie oysters, berries and honey.
What spices did cowboys use?
A: The most popular ones in the United States include salt, pepper, and various chili powders.
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