The Chuck Wagon
The time of the trail lasted about 20 years, from the end of the Civil War to the 1880s. In that period, 10 million cattle were herded from Texas to trail heads in Kansas & Missouri. Many of these cattle went as far as Wyoming, Chicago, and Canada.
In early days of the trail drives, the cowhand had to make do with what he could carry with him. Texas rancher Charles Goodnight is given credit for the efficient design of The Chuck Wagon. Using a surplus military wagon, he added a chuck box & tailgate that served as a work station. This chuck box had shelves and drawers to hold what the cook would need to prepare meals for the day, including a coffee grinder and other cooking utensils to provide hot meals for the dozen or more cowboys & the trail boss.
The most essential cooking tool was the cast-iron Dutch oven. This heavy pot rested above the coals on 3 legs. It had a tight-fitting lid with a raised rim. The cook would then pile hot coals on the lid. The ability to heat from both above and below allowed for roasting and braising, as well for baking the cowboys’ favorite camp bread – the buttermilk biscuit. A large water barrel was attached to the side of the wagon, along with tool boxes, hooks, and brackets.
Chuck was the cowboy word for food and cooking was usually done over an open fire. The Chuck Wagon cook was called a “Coosie,” from the Spanish word Cocinero meaning Male Cook. Favorite meals included steaks, smoked brisket, and biscuits. Mexican music & Mexican food quickly became part of the cowboy culture. Cowboys learned to play the guitar & compose ballads in English that mimicked the sentiments of Spanish love songs. Mexican cowboys introduced their favorite foods – chili, beans, and tortillas – to The Chuck Wagon method of cooking.
In honor of this Old West food wagon, KemoSabes, has named the revolving menu we change every 4-5 weeks The Chuck Wagon . This is where Chef Billy gets creative and offers different menu items for your dining pleasure and choice. Click the link below to open up a printable version of our current Chuck Wagon.Click here for our Early Summer 2017 Chuck Wagon