Bible Gateway

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Chuck Wagon Cook Book Recipes from the Ranch and Range for Today's Kitchen by Byron Price Publisher University of Oklahoma Press

Ah, Dutch ovens! A cast iron wonder and so popular on cattle trails. I own one and cook in it occassionally indoors. I have used it on a gas stove, electric stove, and in an electric oven. After reading this book, I am even more curious about cooking outdoors.

The first part of this book relates history of outdoor, cattle drive cooking. I learned that Dutch ovens come in sizes 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16-inch diameters. The camp fire should be built on a large piece of tin foil to increase the heat and fight the effects of damp earth. The amount of charcoal briquets depend on the size of the Dutch oven. For example, a 14-inch Dutch oven needs 28 briquets. The charcoals need to burn until they are coated with white ash and then the coals are placed in a circle without any coals in the center. The Dutch oven is then placed over the ring of coals. Garden tools like a spade is used to place the remaining coals on the dutch oven lid.

Temperatures have a formula. Medium heat is the diameter of the oven times two to equal the number of charcoal briquets to be used. High heat is the diameter of the oven times three to equal the number of charcoal briquetss needed.

There are so many yummy ranch recipes in this book. Drinks, breads, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts which can all be cooked in a Dutch oven grace the pages of this book. One recipe which I enjoyed over the campfire as a child, is listed below with the name of the person who submitted the recipe to the author.

Cowboy's Dutch Oven Delight
by Cliff Tienert of Long X Ranch, Kent, Texas

Makes 1 large loaf, about 12 servings


Sourdough bread (doubled) (Debra here: as a child we used a couple of cans of biscuits. Probably not as delicious as sourdough bread makings but still enjoyable. To obtain the recipe for the sourdough starter mix you will need to acquire the book.)

1 cup sugar

1-tablespoon of ground cinnamon

3/4-cup of melted butter

Make the sourdough bread dough through step 4. (Debra here: open a can of biscuits) Tear off pieces about the size of golf balls and roll them between your floured hands to form smooth balls. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon. Dip the balls in the melted butter, then roll in the cinnamon sugar. Place each ball in a well-buttered 14-inch Dutch oven. Drizzle any remaining butter on top, and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon/sugar. Cover the Dutch oven with the lid and let the balls rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2-1/2 hours. (Debra here: if using canned biscuits the need for rising is not needed.)

Build a charcoal fire with 28-briquets and let them burn until they are coated with white ash. Using a garden spade or kitchen tongs (protect your hands with oven mitts), spread about 10 of the coals in a 14-inch circle, pushing the other coals to one side. Do not place any coals in the center of the circle.

Place the Dutch oven over the ring of coals. Use the spade to place the remaining 18 coals on the lid. Cook until the bread is golden brown, about 45-minutes. Let stand 10-minutes, then remove from the Dutch oven. Serve warm, pulling off portions of the bread to eat.


Sometimes the cowboys on the trail couldn't be burdened down with heavy Dutch ovens or cast iron skillets. Instead of using these cooking instruments they would use what they could find. The recipe above was used with the bread dough wrapped around a stick with the cinnamon/sugar/butter added on. Then the stick was held near the campfire. This is how I had enjoyed the above recipe. Outdoors, eating the tasty treat off a stick. Try it sometime with your children or grandchildren.

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