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O/T Cowboy Grub

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by School Teacher, Jun 7, 2011.

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  1. School Teacher

    School Teacher Well-Known Member

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    I have eaten a lot of different things at trap shoots especially chili, hamburgers, bar-b-queue, hot dogs, etc. However, I was wondering kind of food did the trail cooks, like “Wishbone” on the TV series Rawhide, prepare?

    I remember a scene from the movie Conagher, which is based on a Louis L’Amour novel, in which a starving and wounded Sam Elliot surprises his tormenters around a campfire and demands “some of that grub.” He scoops something out of a skillet and then passes out. They don’t kill him out of respect because he is a “hombre”.

    I guess they ate a lot of beef and beans (as in Blazing Saddles) but what else did they eat?

    Ed Ward
     
  2. shot410ga

    shot410ga Well-Known Member

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    Beans beef, cornbread, salted pork. Flapjacks and molasses if they had a chuck wagon. That's about it.
     
  3. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    It couldn't have been very good but I'm sure if you are hungry enough it tasted okay. Think about what you could make if you didn't have the luxury of refrigeration and your kitchen had to be mobile.

    Beans beans beans, flat bread or corn bread and some kind of meat every now and then.
     
  4. likes-to-shoot

    likes-to-shoot Well-Known Member

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    "Beans beans beans, flat bread or corn bread and some kind of meat every now and then."

    No wonder the cattle stampeded at the sound of thunder. With something that loud I'd bet they were expecting a real good smell coming.
     
  5. RobertT

    RobertT Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind, no refrigeration or preservative. Fresh meat and vegetables when available, otherwise a lot of beans and biscuits. Probably the most important ticket to survival of a trail cook was lots of hot strong coffee. Reading a few cookbooks on the subject of Dutch Oven cooking will open your eyes to the wide variety of options when the ingredients are available.

    Robert
     
  6. oldgahchamp

    oldgahchamp Active Member

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    I think they also made "pan coffee". Larry
     
  7. School Teacher

    School Teacher Well-Known Member

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    What is "cowboy coffee"? Is it coffee boiled in a pan or container with simply the grounds placed in the water?

    Ed Ward
     
  8. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    Cowboy coffee is pure crap. Throw coffee in a pot (or pan) with some water and bring it to a strong boil then let the grounds settle out as much as they will before pouring a cup. The redeaming qualities are that it does have caffine, it is hot, and it will keep the plumbing open.


    I think the reason the cowboys actually drank this swill was because the boiling process would kill most of the nasty stuff commonly found in their water supply. You would have had to be a tough SOB to like it.
     
  9. chipking

    chipking TS Member

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    There is a reason that you sometimes hear the term " a $1 a day and found" when referring to cowboy wages. A polite way of saying that if it grows and ain't poison or was alive but ain't now it may be "FOUND" in the pot for supper.

    Kinda like some of the Marine Corps meals I remember fondly.

    --- Chip King ---
     
  10. hoot619

    hoot619 Member

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    Cripes, if you can't stand open pot coffee something is wrong. It makes the best coffee I think. I always make it at deer camp or family social gatherings. The best part is when the uninformed get a mouth full of coffee grounds. All they can think of is mouse shit, I have a good buddy that can attest to that. There were 3 of us watching when he had taken a big drink. He was a spitting and sputtering and we had quite a chuckle over it. He is very careful draining the coffee pot since than. I did screw up once and just kept adding coffee grounds and more water each time the pot got low. Boy did I get wired on all that caffeine. Had one hell of a time getting to sleep. Ken U.
     
  11. Old Cowboy

    Old Cowboy Active Member

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    You know it's "cowboy" coffee if it'll float a horseshoe
     
  12. hrosik123

    hrosik123 Member

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    Is that what happened on Brokeback Mountain? Too much cowboy coffee? I'll pass. Good luck Chuck Hrosik
     
  13. 100straight

    100straight Member

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    When I was a kid I used to visit the local "cowboy." He was born in the 1890s and had spent all his life around horses and living in a shack with no electric, etc. He made coffee in a sort of tea kettle and he just put the grounds in the water and then "biled" them (his expression). He had on old sock tied over the kettle spout to trap the grounds. The coffee he made was the only coffee I ever cared for. He died when I was about 16, and I haven't found coffee I like since.

    Shoot well and often,

    Mark.
     
  14. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    I will admit to being spoiled when it comes to coffee Ken. That being said, I do know how to brew a good cup of coffee and cowboy coffee just isn't what I would call good.

    Now as for the good memories that may be associated with cowboy coffe, well you just can't duplicate those.
     
  15. billyboy07208

    billyboy07208 Member

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    I salmon fished in Maine once,and on the lunch break,the guide would pull the canoe over to some rocky shorline and cook whatever over open fire.
    He had a trick for cowboy coffee in which a raw egg was added to the pot and stirred vigorously just before serving.
    The egg entrapped the grinds and sinks to the bottom.
    I just cant remember if it was with or without the yolk,but it worked very well.
     
  16. omgb

    omgb Well-Known Member

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    Real Cowboy grub:
    *Beans, lots of them
    *Fat, usually pork belly that had been smoked
    *Dried/smoked side meat (pork)
    *biscuits made from flour, baking powder and fat left over from cooking the above
    *coffee, boiled with sugar if available
    *corn tortillas if in Texas or New Mexico
    *boiled greens when found
     
  17. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The food and ingredients would have to be able to withstand hot conditions without spoiling.

    Beans, flour, sugar and cornmeal were the basic ingredients. These kept quite well in decently made wooden barrels. Sacks were avoided because of rain.

    Bacon and salt pork were the main meats. The fattier the better. The fat would not be wasted. It was used to coat pans, and to add as a kind of lard to the flour or cornmeal. While regular lard could be carried, it sometimes went rancid from high temps. Bacon fat would substitute. Unfortunately some cooks would continue to use rancid lard. They simply added more spices, particularly chili powder, to cover it up. Add enough and you can hide a lot of sins.

    Beef was often jerky, which would be handed out with corn dodgers or biscuits for midday meal, since many riders would not be near the chuckwagon for lunch. Some beef came from cattle that got killed on the trail, typically from accidents. A cowboy would cut out what he could in the time allotted, and turned it over to the cook, or a couple of them might drag the carcass to the cook, who cut it up.

    Eggs would keep for a week or so if kept in the shade under damp cloth, but most of the drive would be without eggs. Chicken did not keep well, so it was rarely seen on the drive. Mutton doesn't cure as well as pork, but it could be used in the early stages of a drive. Mutton was often used in stews, since dried mutton is pretty tough.

    Potatoes kept well, as did carrots, string beans, onions and other vegetables that do not need refrigeration. Dried peppers were often used. Most drives started too early for corn on the cob. Apples also kept well, so sometimes there'd be an apple pie or cobbler.

    Canned foods were uncommon, even though metal food tins date to 1813. Most outfits could not afford the added expense anyway. But cans were one way of providing some perishable vegetables or fruits, or even meat.

    Coffee was a major staple. Liquor was almost always banned, except for a small amount for medicinal purposes, almost always in the care of the cook.

    Many of the "old west" cattle drive recipes found today are bogus. Most have too many ingredients that require refrigeration or processing. A lot of recipes today call for ground beef. That definitely will not keep on a drive.

    As for the foods, chili was popular, though some cowboys thought it too popular. A few took a racist attitude that it was only good for Mexicans. Pork and beans were popular, and it sure wasn't like what you get in a can today. The "pork" is often nothing more than a little piece of bacon fat today. But back then a lot of pan cooked pork chunks were put in with the beans. If the pork spoiled then it was just beans.

    An imaginative cook might also make navy bean or split pea soup, since the main ingredients are dried beans or peas.

    And that's another thing... the cook. A good cook was worth his weight in gold. Very few cowboys messed with the cook, because the others would take a dim view of that. Alas, some cooks were terrible. It was not unusual for some cowboys to inquire who the cook was before signing on, not only to find a good cook, but hopefully to avoid a bad cook.
     
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in the movie conagher staples carried a small wooden barrel what did it contain