Cowboys moving cattle using their horses and dogs.
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The Chuckwagon - The Buck Creek Cattle Company Circa: 1885 Texas chuckwagon courtesy of Photo by Ty Tintypes and Glenn Helm
John Deere Chuck Wagon after crossing the Llano river in Texas, note river in the background.
Cooks Clyde and Glenn standing while seated Paul, Tex, Mike and Panther eat dinner.
Photo courtesy of Ty Tintypes and Glenn Helm

Click here for More Chuck Wagon Pictures

Chuckwagon etiquette
Chuck wagon etiquetteOn the old time cattle drives and roundups, the cook was sometimes an aging cowboy hired for his ability to drive a wagon more than his cooking skills. He was in charge of the wagon and everything related to it.  The cook was paid more than the other hands because the success of the camp and the drive depended greatly on him and the cook's job was arguably the hardest.  A cowhand earned about a dollar a day and the cook made twice that.   Ranch cooks today still command a great deal of respect and most expect a certain strict etiquette in their vicinity.
Cowboys were forbidden to eat at the chuck wagon table-that was where the cook prepared the food.  A cowboy never rode their horse through the "kitchen."  The cowboys always rode downwind of the wagon, so the dust they stirred up wouldn't blow into the food.
At mealtime, cowboys got their own plate, fork, knife, and cup.  The cook would pour the coffee and the cowboys helped themselves to staples like hot biscuits, beef steak, and beans.  When they were done, they stacked their dishes for the cook to wash.

Western Home Recipes from our friends 
Thank you for sending in your favorite recipes.  Look on our recipe page for recipes from your neighbors.  Green Chile Recipes!

Dutch ovens come in a lot of sizesDutch Oven Cooking with Floyd Crandall

Controlling the Heat
Cooking Meat
Easy Bean Dish
Making Biscuits
Dump Cake
How to season cast iron utensils

See Floyd's article on Dutch-Oven cooking in the September 2004 issue of Western Horseman Magazine.

Floyd's Dutch Oven Folding Stoves

Cowboy Coffee
Cowboy coffee

Letter:  Here is a nice letter from a lady who tried our recipes and Dutch-oven cooking for the first time.  Hope it encourages you.

hi lee,  my name is donna. tried your dump cake recipe while we were camping last week. i did the one with spice cake and apple pie filling. i used a 9 qt. Dutch oven. i added fresh blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries and used almost the whole can of 7-up, man was it a big hit. i couldn't believe how easy it was.  especially since it was my first time with the Dutch oven.  also did a hobo stew in the Dutch oven the next night. used 1 chicken breast, 1 petite sirloin steak, and 1 pork sirloin steak, left over corn (that i cut off the cob) 4 potatoes, 1 medium onion,  lots of garlic cloves, 1 can beer, 1 whole tomato, 2-3 tablespoons of spade l ranch beef marinade and seasoning.  i cut up meat and cooked it first with onion and garlic, then added tomato, corn, seasonings, and water.  i added potatoes last so they didn't get mushy.  cooked in Dutch oven with coals under and on top for at least 2 hours.  it was a major hit!  really enjoy your cowboy showcase site.  thank you for sharing!     
Donna Keefer

More Dutch Oven Cooking Recipes

Sourdough Recipes from Don Alexander's Galley

dutch oven cooking


*Copyright ã by Jim Liles 08/2010

What pieces make up a cowboy?
What staples go in the pot?
There must be garlic and onion,
and probably something hot.

A cowboy’s life is sometimes hard,
and bitter to the taste.
For his is not an easy life,
and gathered not in haste.

It takes a bit of effort,
to make a real good stew.
With just the right ingredients,
to simmer through and through.

A cowboy he’s made much the same,
from stock that has some starch.
Toss in a bit of grit and growl,
and you might just have a start.

Cause just like a real good stew,
a cowboy needs to grow,
from something that can’t throw a calf
to one hell of a buckaroo.

So easy on them youngins’,
bring’m along easy and slow.
There from good stock, just add the staples,
and a buckaroo, is what you’ll grow.

The ultimate delicacy served at brandings across the west--calf fries (also known as Rocky Mountain oysters).  You can fry them on the branding pot as on the right, or roast them over the branding fire.  Serve hot on the tip of your knife.  You have to be there to appreciate this cuisine.

cooking Rocky Mountain oysters  Calf fries cooking on the branding fire

Want to share your favorite recipes or western ways of cooking?  We would love to hear from you.  Send your recipes and tips to:
Cowboy Showcase e-mail



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