Down-Home Cookin' For The Cowboys In Your Life

IN THE KITCHEN

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Start any morning during rodeo week with a down-home breakfast of biscuits and gravy.

My favorite is plain old sausage gravy served on some great biscuits I buy from Schwan's. They come frozen, so all you do is take as many as needed from the package, toss them in a biscuit pan or on a cookie sheet and bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. They taste almost as good as my Aunt Luke's Dutch oven biscuits.

I confess, when I have tried to make homemade biscuits, they turn out about as appealing as a hockey puck and almost as hard.

The few times I have gone to a real cowboy breakfast the biscuits served were just made with Bisquick in a Dutch oven.

As for sausage gravy, it is a simple thing.

Sausage Gravy

1/2 package bulk or 4 patties, crumbled

2 to 3 tablespoons flour

Additional margarine or butter, melted to make 2 to 3 tablespoons drippings

Milk, enough to make gravy desired thickness

It is possible to use either sausage patties or bulk sausage, I would not recommend using link sausage.

Crumble the bulk sausage and brown or begin browning the patties and crumble them as they cook.

If there are about two to three tablespoons of grease in the pan, just add two to three tablespoons of flour, and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. If there is not enough grease in the pan to make necessary drippings, add enough margarine or butter to extend, melt, then add flour.

Once the flour has started to brown, gradually add about a half-cup of milk and stir, allowing to thicken, continue to add milk until there is enough gravy to serve those eating breakfast.

Taste mixture to see if it is properly seasoned after the gravy is made. It is easier to add more salt and pepper at this point than to guess when starting the dish and run the risk of getting it too salty.

Lean ground beef or lean ground turkey, seasoned to taste like sausage with some of the spice mixtures on the market, will work just as well as sausage.

Now about that cowboy breakfast. The gravy was made from homemade jerky, store-bought jerky will not work. So, here is a homemade jerky recipe for those with smokers.

Beef Jerky

1 cup plain salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1 steak, 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick, sirloin will do and London broil is also good

dash of garlic powder

liberal amount of ground pepper

Cut steak into strips about a half-inch thick. Mix salt and sugar and rub into meat. Allow to stand in a glass or crockery shallow bowl for 12 hours in a cool place, draining juices from bowl often. Rinse well in water, pat dry and season with garlic and pepper. Hang or lay in smoker and allow to dry at smoking temperature for an hour. Using two pans of hickory or apple chips, smoke for about 24 hours.

Jerky Gravy

Jerky, broken into bite-size pieces and tenderized with meat mallet or similar tool

2-4 tablespoons bacon drippings, melted

2-4 tablespoons flour

milk

Fry jerky in drippings, add flour and brown, gradually stir in milk and cook for several minutes after gravy has thickened.

Longtime Star Valley rancher Pat Cline, and the source of this jerky gravy recipe, was adamant about making sure the gravy is cooked after thickening.

If a cowboy breakfast isn't your cup of tea, how about a chili supper with cornbread and coleslaw?

I use the Jiffy Cornbread Mix and just add some extra sugar (it's an Oklahoma thing) and get some ready-cut cole slaw and mix with a ready-made dressing. But as for chili, I have a recipe I really like. Not only does it taste good, it is quick and easy, and makes a great left-over meal.

Chili

1-2 pounds ground beef

1 medium onion or equivalent in onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons chili powder

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

1 20-ounce can chili beans, undrained

2 small cans tomato sauce

Brown the ground beef and onion, or season ground beef with onion powder as it browns. Add garlic and chili powders, salt and pepper, mix well, add beans and tomato sauce. Combine well and heat to bubbling. Taste and add cayenne for added kick if desired.

Serve with warm cornbread and cole slaw.

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