Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook: Recipes From The Wild West To Wall Street Review


Original Cookbook Review by

Something for Every Cowboy

Dotty Griffith is a favorite one of our food writers. Not only is she the dining editor and restaurant critic of The Dallas Morning News, but in her spare time she manages to turn out some fine cookbooks. Most recently, reviews of her Texas Holiday Cookbook and Celebrating Barbecue have appeared on our site, and now she has written a cookbook she started planning when she was just a little girl.

The Texas Holiday Cookbook and Celebrating Barbecue have to do with a particular theme or type of food, holiday cooking and barbecue, respectively. In this, her newest book, Ms. Griffith has broadened her focus in order to include the wide range of dishes that appeal to the 21st century cowboy the renaissance cowboy, if you will.

The cowboys in question are described by the author as Real Cowboys, Ranch Cuisine, Rodeo Cowboys, City Cowboys, Boots & Suits Cowboys, Wannabe Cowboys, and Black Tie & Boots Cowboys, and Ms. Griffith devotes a chapter to each, complete with menus. Not only is this division of recipes sensible, it is a pleasure to read her insightful descriptions of the various cowboy types, not to mention her clever and often amusing pairings of cowboy types with recipes.

But food is the point of any cookbook, and The Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook excels in that arena. The chapter on Rodeo Cowboys, for instance, explains that modern-day cowboy athletes usually prefer simple cooking the stuff of home- and country-cooking restaurants where cowboys often find a bite to eat on the drives between rodeo venues. The recipes include Chicken Fried Steak, Liver & Onions, Pangrilled Ribeye Steaks, Pot Roast with Pan Gravy, Homefried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Pinto Beans, Macaroni & Cheese, Blackeyed Peas, Green Chiles & Eggs, Green Beans with Sweet Onions, Fried Okra, Skillet Cornbread, Chocolate Meringue Pie, and Buttermilk Pie with Blackberries.

Boots & Suits Cowboys include the cowboy power brokers who arent afraid to strut their stuff, whether in a private luncheon club or a big-ticket steakhouse. Big beef and big deals just go together . . . Not that cowboys dont appreciate French cuisine, but real men dont each quiche while negotiating seven-figure deals . . . Desserts as heavy and extravagant as the jewelry that cowboys and their women wear.

I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Wannabe Cowboys, who Ms. Griffith describes as having played cowboy at one time or another. This is cowboy junk food, and featured are Frito Chili Pie, Texas Torpedos (Fried Jalapenos), Steak Finger Basket (ala Dairy Queen), Tamale Pie, Hash Browns & Scrambled Eggs with Cheese, Patty Melt with Grilled Onions, and fried pies.

The book includes recipes that reflect early settlement of the American West, such as the German culinary influence of the Texas Hill Country (Venison Sauerbraten with Biscuits) And there is plenty of Tex-Mex influence, including such standards as nachos, enchiladas and fajitas, as well as pozole, nopalitos, fried jalapenos and black bean soup. Griffith's recipe for Mushroom-Stuffed Blue Corn Chile Rellenos made my mouth water. The Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook includes something for every kind of cowboy -- cowboy men and cowboy women. Dotty Griffith has created a cookbook that includes a wide variety of foods, but doesn't try to overreach. It will claim a special place in the heart of any cowboy or anyone who likes to eat like one.

From Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook: Recipes From The Wild West To Wall Street

Shrimp Fajitas

  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, shells and tails removed
  • ½ Cup Vegetable Oil
  • ¼ Cup Lime Juice, or the juice of one lime
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • ¼ t Cayenne Pepper or to taste
  • 1 t Salt, or to taste
  • 1 t pepper, or to taste
  • 1 White Onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 t Oil
  • 10 to 12 Hot Flour Tortillas
  • Salsa, pico de gallo and guacamole as desired

Use large shrimp for fajitas. They're not as likely to overcook and dry out.

Rinse and dry shrimp and place in a large resealable plastic bag or in a shallow glass baking dish. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together oil, lime juice, garlic and cayenne pepper. Pour marinade over shrimp. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour, turning occasionally.

Prepare fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. When fire has burned down to medium or grill is preheated, drain marinade from shrimp and discard. Season shrimp to taste with salt and pepper. Place shrimp in a single layer in a grill basket. Grill shrimp 1 to 2 minutes per side. Do not overcook. Remove from fire and keep warm.

Saute onion rings and green pepper strips in 2 teaspoons vegetable oilin a skillet over high heat on the stove or in a skillet on the grill, just until golden at the edges and wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

If shrimp are very large, chop in large chunks. For more attractive presentation, leave shrimp whole. Serve with grilled onions and peppers, hot flour tortillas, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole and refried beans.

Tip: If shrimp are very large, use half the recommended amount and cut shrimp in half lengthwide.

How to wrap and eat fajitas: The idea with fajitas is to roll the filling and desired garnishes in a flour tortilla to make it easy to pick up and eat. The most practical way is to start with the soft stuff - like refried beans or guacamole - and spread them on the flour tortilla. Layer on fajita strips or shrimp and other garnishes - onions, green peppers, salsa or pico de gallo - as desired.

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Dotty Griffith biography.

Contemporary Cowboy Cookbook: Recipes From The Wild West To Wall Street
184 pages
Lone Star Books (January, 2003)
Purchase Book on Amazon.Com