It's been a while since my last blog post, and I hope that you have not pined too much for my foodie themed ramblings. But, confession... Mrs Shack and I have been pretty busy...
That's right folks, there's about to be a Baby Shack in the house and boy are we excited. No doubt the little 'un will come into the world with a full appetite having a mom and dad who consistently talk and dribble on about food and fear not, he is already kitted out with top of the line clobber...
Anyhoo, enough of the digressing, let me get on to the topic of today's discussion, COWBOY COOKING.
Granted, today's topic is slighted biased towards the fact that I have been tasked with creating a whole bunch of recipe cards for the Meat Shack Multi Purpose rubs, but behind every great master piece is a story.
As you are aware, all of the Shacks rubs are free of added sugar. This is something that was really important to the Mrs and I when we developed them. We were in fact given advice to add sugar and fillers to our rubs to bulk them out and increase our profit margins, but for us it was a deal breaker. If you check out the competition in the supermarket aisles, take a glance on the back of the pack. Rule of thumb, if you can't pronounce it it's probably no good for you and chances are it's just a long word for sugar.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against sugar per se, you will often see me load up on a sugary barbecue sauce or similar in some of the recipes, but this gives us the best of both worlds, have your burger Saint or Sinner style whatever works for you.
But what's with the obsession with Cowboys? Willie Nelson famously sang "mamas don't let your babies grow up to be Cowboys" but I respectfully disagree. If I could master my innate fear of riding horses (you may wish to go back to our TEXAS COWBOY post for the history here) I could think of no finer job. Not that there's much call for rounding up cattle here in Chingford, East London.
When I picture a Cowboy, images are conjured of a fine gentleman in perfectly fitting Levis, tipping one's hat at the lady folk. And hell, anyone who is mental enough to put a saddle and ride a raging bull is the optimum of cool in my book, I'm still struggling with rover at home.
Did you also know that Cowboy Cooking has a large part to play in our love of all things meat truck today. From your local burger and chips van to the gourmet culinary movable delights being delivered all across the world today, you might consider thanking the good old Chuck Wagons which first appeared way back in 1866 when the first mobile kitchens began providing food to Cowboys across Northern America.
Up to that point, cowboys ate what they could carry, consisting mainly of dried beef and hard biscuits. And I'm willing to guess this wasn't the gourmet jerky and Ritz crackers which are available to us today.
The cattle drive cook, often known as Cookie, worked longer hours than the rest of the crew and had a multitude of responsibilities and roles, including; setting up and breaking down camp, starting the cook fire at each site, having dinner ready when the rest of the trail crew arrived, and getting up before everyone else to prepare coffee and breakfast.
And that's not all. Any Cowboy worth their salt knew not to piss off Cookie who was also Doctor, the Dentist, the Barber, the Banker as well as the on site mediator ready to settle the score whenever the shit went down.
DON'T MESS WITH COOKIE
Now you wouldn't be expecting a fried egg burger from the Chuckwagon, the food was simple but certainly an improvement on hardtack biscuits tasting of cardboard. Food on the trail was whatever could be preserved and carried on the wagon such as salted meats, onions, potatoes and, beans. And in true cowboy style beef was often favoured including fried steaks and stews.
The simplicity of cowboy cooking therefore is one very similar to my own approach to food. It doesn't have to be overly complicated or finished off with edible flowers to be tantalising. And I am very much a meat and potatoes man who just loves the rough and tough of cooking outdoors.
Cowboy culinary is still as popular as ever today and much of my inspiration comes from this style of gastronomy. You might want to check out:
The Pioneer Woman's Cowboy Food archives. Good hearty Americana food guaranteed to get you dribbling.
Kent Rollins - Oklahoma born was the owner and Cookie of a chuck wagon in 1993 before expanding into catering. There are many old school cowboy style cooking videos and recipes available on Kent's website to challenge your outside cooking skills.
Grady Spears - Native of Fort Worth, Texas, was born with the love for the cowboys’ way of life and is the creator of recipes and restaurants destined to inspire and fulfill whether you are sitting around a chuck wagon campfire or in the comfort of his restaurant known as Horseshoe Hill. Definitely a visit on the bucket list to try Grady's Famous Lawsuit Dip.
And thus the COWBOY COFFEE multi purpose rub was born. Through a love of all things simple, smokey and with a multitude of purposes, why not head on over to the store and pick yourself up a pack, or at the very least check out some of our own coffee rub inspired recipes. Yee-ha.