By Robb Walsh
Texas cowboys are the stuff of legend — immortalized in ruggedly picturesque images from Madison Avenue to Hollywood. Cowboy cooking has the same romanticized mythology, with the same oversimplified reputation (think campfire coffee, cowboy steaks, and ranch dressing). In reality, the food of the Texas cattle raisers came from a wide variety of ethnicities and spans four centuries.
Robb Walsh digs deep into the culinary culture of the Texas cowpunchers, beginning with the Mexican vaqueros and their chile-based cuisine. Walsh gives overdue credit to the largely unsung black cowboys (one in four cowboys was black, and many of those were cooks). Cowgirls also played a role, and there is even a chapter on Urban Cowboys and an interview with the owner of Gilley’s, setting for the John Travolta–Debra Winger film.
Here are a mouthwatering variety of recipes that include campfire and chuckwagon favorites as well as the sophisticated creations of the New Cowboy Cuisine:
• Meats and poultry: sirloin guisada, cinnamon chicken, coffee-rubbed tenderloin
• Stews and one-pot meals: chili, gumbo, fideo con carne
• Sides: scalloped potatoes, onion rings, pole beans, field peas
• Desserts and breads: peach cobbler, sourdough biscuits, old-fashioned preserves
Through over a hundred evocative photos and a hundred recipes, historical sources, and the words of the cowboys (and cowgirls) themselves, the food lore of the Lone Star cowboy is brought vividly to life.