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Food & Wine Ground >> Cowboy food ideas?

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4/14/10 7:29 AM
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droc
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 It's my daughter's birthday end of the month, we're having a cowboy/western themed party for her. She's only 2 years old, so she's not gonna really appreciate the whole theme thing but her big brother will.

So, any ideas on what food I should serve at a Cowboy party?

I figure I'll get the grill out (weather permitting) and make a lot of burgers and hot dogs. And I'll make a big pot of Chili (not too strong, kids have to eat it too) and leave it simmering on a fire if I can.

Any other suggestions.

If you have suggestions for decorating our yard too, that'd be great. All on a really tight budget, I'm not working at the moment.

I'm in the process of making a few wooden revolvers and rifles sor the boy and I, might make a derringer for the wife if I have time.
I'm gonna tie a few lassos and hang them about the yard with some bunting.
I have and old mezzanine bed in the cellar that we're not using right now, so I might put a big frame up like the entrance to a corral or mine at the gate, something like these below.





DROC
4/14/10 11:31 AM
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MichaelVronsky
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 big rib eye steaks
chili
cornbread
beef ribs
4/14/10 12:35 PM
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droc
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 I'd be all for the big rib eye's, but I only have a small kettle grill and would probably only be able to do 1 or 2 at a time. Maybe I'll buy some, tell the missus they're for the party then pull out that excuse at the last minute and eat them myself instead :D

Chili - check!

What's cornbread and where can I find a recipe? Can I make it in a bread oven (the missus got one as a gift and barely ever uses it)

Beef ribs, good idea, any recipe recommendations? I'd have to smoke them slowly, right?

Thanks

DROC


4/14/10 2:09 PM
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MichaelVronsky
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 beef ribs in texas (where they are most popular) are often just seasoned with salt and pepper. this is especially good for a kids party because you can put a couple different kinds of sauce on them according to individual tastes, which kids tend to have. stephen raichlin has a good recipe but i'd go easy on the smoke, its a strong flavor and again, a lot of kids might not dig it.

cornbread is relatively easy to make once you get the hang of it. there are so many variations and recipes. i'm actually not a cornbread fan so i dont know any off the top of my head butm its generally a crowd pleaser. hopefully someone else will chime in with some advice. you can actually cook it well ahead of time in the oven, stovetop or on the grill in a cast iron pan.


the burgers and hot dogs always seem to be the biggest attractions at a kids party though.
4/14/10 3:37 PM
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droc
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 Cool, thanks for the advice. I might do the beef ribs.

It's a kid's party in the sense that my daughter is a kid, but there's usually more adults than kids at our parties. This is only her second birthday, so this will be the first time that she really understand the significance and that that party is for her. Her brother's birthday is during the school holidays, so his friends are usually away on vacation. Some of our friends have kids, so there will be a few, but it's not like a "normal" kids party where there are dozens of the little beggars running around causing trouble :D

We're gonna have a casino (poker table) and a bar in the living room.

DROC
4/14/10 3:46 PM
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MichaelVronsky
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 ah i see. how readily available are beef ribs over there? pork spareribs could be a substitute - the only poeple that would question the authenticity are ppl from texas or ppl into serious american bbq.
4/14/10 6:34 PM
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crescentwrench
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Edited: 04/14/10 6:34 PM
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 If you want authentic you'd make beans with salt pork and some sourdough bread and black coffee strong enough to stand your fork in.  

I'm guessing you aren't planning on driving any cattle though.  There are chuckwagon cookoffs all around here and the contest dishes are usually chicken-fried steak with milk gravy, pinto beans, some sort of potato, biscuits or cornbread, and a fruit cobbler made in a dutch oven.  

You've got the meat and chili so there's no need to add a chicken-fried steak to the mix.  Cornbread is a quickbread and really easy to make, just mix up the batter and bake, like a cake.  And honestly if I was doing this I'd buy a frozen cobbler of some sort.  I'd cook it and throw it in my dutch oven later if I wanted to add that authentic touch.  

This is the cornbread recipe I use when I'm making it from scratch.  I got it from a local diner so it makes a shitload, you can cut the recipe in half for personal use.  It will make about 2 9"x13" pans of cornbread.  I also added a bit of sugar.  Sugar in cornbread is usually a big no-no in the south so they didn't put any in but I like at least a hint of sweetness.  The guy who owned the diner would say, "I'm making cornBREAD, not cornCAKE".  But he was old and mean so fuck him.  Anyway, here it is with imperial measurements, you gotta do the conversions!


Preheat oven to 425F.  Put a good 2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil or shortening into two big pans and put them in the oven too so they'll be hot when you pour the batter in.  You want enough hot grease so that you get a little border of it lining the outside of the pan when you're pouring in the batter.

4 cups flour
4 cups yellow corn meal-fresh and coarse ground if you can find it.
2 heaping tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, depending on preference, I use closer to 1/2
4 eggs
4 cups milk - optionally can use buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil or melted shortening

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Combine all the wet ingredients in another bowl and mix them well, until the eggs mix in.  Then dump the wet into the dry all at once and fold with a spatula.  Mix until it's blended well, it can still be a little lumpy but you just don't want big gobs of dry flour.  Let is sit for about 2 minutes so the baking powder can start to react.  Then put half the batter in one pan on top of the hot grease so it smooshes out to the edges, and half in the other pan the same way and cook 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean and the bottom is crusty brown.

If you want to keep it super real you'll use a cast iron skillet as your pan and proceed as usual.  

Shit, I want cornbread now.


 
4/15/10 2:08 AM
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droc
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 I have no idea how easy or difficult it is to find beef ribs, I'll be at the butchers today so I'll check.

Pork ribs out, my wife, her family and some of our friends are muslims (I'll be keeping an eye on them in case they try to light their shoes on fire).

Thanks CW,

There's only one entrance to the yard, so running cattle through isn't really an option.

I'll try the mean-old bastard's recipe this week and see how we go from there.

DROC
4/15/10 9:07 AM
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crescentwrench
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I think it is okay by itself with a bigass pat of butter in it.   It becomes something really great when crumbled in a big bowl of beans.  Or chili.  Or stew.  Or milk.  Cornbread and milk mixed into a soggy mush is a time-honored treat around my house.  
4/16/10 3:55 AM
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droc
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 Got any recipes Bobby?

LOL you gotta be careful.

DROC
4/16/10 11:19 AM
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crescentwrench
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Edited: 04/16/10 11:19 AM
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They also sell a pre-machined "cube steak" here but I shun those.  The butchers usually run it through so many times it's barely more than hamburger.  If you want to let the butcher take care of tenderizing then find a good round steak and tell the guy to run it through only half as many times as usual.  Conversely you can tenderize it yourself.  It makes for a chewier steak but that's mostly what I grew up on so kind of prefer it.  Some lightly score both sides with a knife, some beat the shit out of it with a tenderizing mallet.  I typically do both.  

Alton Brown prefers these little torture devices that poke a bunch of tiny slits and breaks down the fibers that way.  You'd think you could just use a fork but you can't.  A fork makes punctures and moves meat out of the way, this thing actually makes tiny cuts to sever the meat as it plunges in.  


 
Screw this thread!  Now I want chicken fried steak.
4/16/10 12:01 PM
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droc
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 Sweeeeeetttttttttttttt

DROC
4/17/10 7:52 PM
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droc
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 Right, we're getting there with the menu.

Now what should I serve to drink? Cheap crappy bourbon in an unlabeled bottle? Thick coffee (that you can stand a spoon in) in metal cups? Tequila?

DROC
4/18/10 8:52 PM
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crescentwrench
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Coffee in a tin cup, cloudy brown water, rotgut whiskey, too warm beer in those giant bottles with the stopper on a wire, bull's milk....

You could probably serve anything.  Just put it in a bucket of it in the middle of the table and make everyone drink out of a ladle.   
4/19/10 6:17 AM
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droc
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 Go for the cheap American beer, there's a special on beer in one of my local supermarkets this week. Mostly nice Belgian and old monk-style beers, but I'm sure they have some cheap American crap for the ignorants.

I just learned to tie a honda knot for a lasso on cowboyway.com and finished carving a revolver for my stepson to finish his outfit. Gotta do a shotgun next.

I went for a walk in the local woods and picked up some branches to make a fence to tie my daughters rocking horse to, so the decor is starting to come together.

DROC
4/19/10 10:27 AM
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crescentwrench
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Now you need to learn a knot to hitch up your horse.  I like the highwayman knot, it's got a quick release just in case she has to unholster and make a quick rock-away.

http://www.thepirateking.com/knots/knot_hitch_highwaymans.htm 
4/19/10 6:52 PM
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droc
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 Thanks CW, I'll give it a go

DROC

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