As more people are embracing the prepper lifestyle, they’re trying out different ways of cooking their food. A method that’s gaining in popularity is chuck wagon cooking. Despite modern conveniences such as barbecue grills, microwave ovens, and conventional ovens chuck wagon cooking has remained an option. States such as Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas even hosting chuck wagon cook-off contests every year.
The history of chuck wagon cooking can be traced back to 1866 when a cattleman named Charles Goodnight introduced the cooking method to cowboys on cattle drives which sometimes lasted for months. Goodnight took an old Army surplus wagon and added a pantry box to the rear of the wagon that laid flat thus enabling a cook to prepare food. An open fire, or spit, was used to cook. Prior to that, cowboys ate whatever food they packed in their pouch or saddlebags.
Many believe that the term chuck wagon came from its inventor Goodnight. In reality the word chuck comes from 17 century England when merchants referred to low priced goods as chuck. In the 18 century the word chuck meant hearty food. Regardless of the origins of the term, Goodnight transfigured the cattle industry.
Today, chuck wagon cooking is still used by cowboys and people who live in more rural environment, but urban preppers that have yards can cook like this too. Today there are more materials available to make the cooking apparatus. Instead of using old Army wagons and wood, many preppers fashion their chuck wagons out of cast iron or metal drums. Wheels on a wagon are optional. You can also purchase a chuck wagon. For more information please go to: www.midwestbuggy.com.
Regardless to what is used it’s the food that remains the quintessential element of chuck wagon cooking.
The method that is used to cook varies. Traditional chuck wagon chefs cook with different types of wood, but contemporary preppers can use either charcoal or wood. Some of the tools that are needed are cast iron pots and pans as well as different utensils that can withstand the heat.
What makes this method of cooking so attractive to preppers is the ingredients that are used are the same that they have stored in their root cellars. For example, the method of storing meat that was used by cowboys is still being used today by preppers. Cuts of beef are covered with either sour milk or buttermilk and stored in the cellar. To soften the meat before it’s cooked, the milk is rinsed off and a mixture is made using fine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and dried thyme. More of the milk is added to make a thick paste and is spread over the meat which sounds an awful lot like a wet rub that is used by most chefs today.
Many recipes used in chuck wagon cooking rely on the same ingredients that preppers store such as cornmeal, lard, coffee (which is used as a marinade for beef), dried currants, nuts, dried spices that all the supermarkets sell, dried beans, assorted fresh fruits such as apples, canned fruits, and vegetables that can be grown from a prepper’s garden such as tomatoes or corn.
There are a lot of recipes available for chuck wagon cooking that are available or you can create your own. For recipes or other ideas please visit: www.chronicleoftheoldwest.com.