Retro Ranch

Retro Ranch Talk
No guide to ranch-style cookin' would be complete without a little glossary of cowboy cookin' lingo. If you're new to these parts, it's good to know that a goncho is a steel rod used to lift hot lids from Dutch oven and a slick is an unbranded cow. Don't confuse chuck, which is the grub you're cookin', with the chips or dried cow pies used for cooking fuel. And, of course, those Rocky Mountain Oysters you're being served are not really the meat of mollusks.

The Cookie's Chuck Wagon Staples
"During the spring and fall roundups or on a trail drive to a northern railhead, the camp cook, or 'cookie,' as he was sometimes called, did not have the opportunity to saddle up and head for a grocery store to replenish the supplies for his chuck wagon," C.W. Welch explains. Instead, the chuck wagon was provisioned before leaving the home ranch with mostly dried foods and a few canned goods. "Staples consisted of dried beans and fruit, flour, coffee, sugar, salt, cookie's sourdough starter, and a few spices such as dried chilies, pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg." Without refrigeration, the cookie would only butcher enough meat  for a couple meals and "jerk" the rest into jerky.

How to Use a Dutch Oven
An essential American cooking implement since colonial times, the Dutch oven is a three-legged cast-iron pot with a flanged lid that holds hot wood coals or charcoal. This versatile campfire oven can also be used as a soup pot, frying pan, or deep-fat fryer. "Heat management rather than recipe preparation is the real key to successful Dutch oven cooking," writes outdoor cooking expert C.W. Welch. For his advice on baking, roasting, frying or boiling with a Dutch oven, click here.

Retro Ranch
A Roundup of Classic Cowboy Cookin'
by C. W. Welch 
Collectors Press, 2004.

Another fun Retro cookbook from Collectors Press, this one captures the cowboy spirit of the 1940s and 50s with colorful western-style graphics and hearty ranch recipes. Based on the simple fixins of camp cooks and homesteaders from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 75 featured vittles include Scalloped Potatoes, Stuffed Peppers, Sweet and Sour Short Ribs, Quick-Fix Chicken, Dutch Oven Pot Roast, Dutch Babies, Potato Pancakes and Basic Ranch Chili.

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