Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Chuck Wagon Chow

If you're a regular reader of The Greasy Skillet, you know that I'm subject to whimsy. In fact, The Whimsical Skillet might be a more apt name for my blog. I try to travel the road of practicality, but it never works out. With the crack of a book, a chance conversation, the melody of song, or idle time to daydream, whimsy grabs the wheel and I veer into the ditch. Once again, I'm here to confess deviant thoughts that flutter around in my head:

Confession #1:

I often dream of being a chuck wagon cook for a big ranch. This is a product of my love of cooking, food, history, and the geography of the American West. It's a way to connect with the mythology and romanticism of the West without getting in the saddle - a place I'd rather not be. This summer I went on a ten-hour horseback ride over the Continental Divide, and the ordeal traumatized me and soured me on the notion of ever getting on a horse again. If I can ever muster the courage, I'll blog about this experience.

Confession #2:

I've wrangled up a small herd of cookbooks about the art of chuck wagon and cowboy cooking. I have so many books that I have to store some in boxes in the basement.

Confession #3:

If I had more storage space, I would collect cast iron cookware.

Confession #4:

I sometimes contemplate building a fire in my backyard, so I can cook like a cowboy. I control such urges because folk frown upon fires within the city limits. I've found that most city folk feel the same way about discharging firearms, allowing dogs to roam unleashed, urinating outdoors, and public drunkenness. I don't understand all the fuss.

If I did build a fire in my backyard, I would cook this:

Chuck Wagon Chow
From The All Beef Cookbook: Favorite Recipes from the American National CowBelles.

I learned this little recipe from my dear wife. For the record, she opposes any of the following within the city limits: discharging firearms, allowing dogs to roam unleashed, urinating outdoors, Christmas decorations before December 1st, chicken coops, and public drunkenness.

The recipe can be prepared with ease, and it's sure to satisfy cowpokes, cowhands, cowboys, and cowtippers.

  • 1-pound of beef cut into 3/4-inch cubes (I usually just use beef stew meat, sirloin, or chuck)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 can kidney beans, with liquid (We usually use Ranch Beans because my wife despises kidney beans. I, on the other hand, hate to see a good bean maligned. Kidney beans need love too.)
  • 1 can whole-kernel corn, with liquid
  1. Season the meat with salt, chili powder, pepper, and garlic powder.
  2. Using a skillet or dutch over, brown the meat over medium-high heat. Remove the meat.
  3. Add onion and green pepper. Saute until soft.
  4. Add meat, beans, and corn.
  5. Simmer for 45 minutes. I prefer to prepare this the day before I plan on serving. The meat becomes more tender with two rounds of braising.

Sometimes the ditch is more interesting than the road,


Frantic Home Cook said...

I have most of those cookbooks and daydream about fixing grub in a chuckwagon. You're a sister after my own heart!

steve o' said...

The best of Thanksgivings to you and yours.

Sarah said...

Those darn "city limits" folks take all the fun out of a good open fire :) I love chuck wagon chow myself and would collect cast-iron cookware if I had room to store it. Cowboys knew how to make a hearty stew, that's for sure. Happy T-Giving to you guys!

Anonymous said...

Looks like warm loving in your tummy. Even though it's not as chilly in Los Angeles as the rest of the country, there's nothing wrong with a little stew in our 60 degree winter!