JW’s Rimrock Cowboy Beans


Let’s be honest, back in the days of the Old West beans on the trail were a staple… but a rather bland staple at that.

In the past I’ve posted a couple different variations of Cowboy beans in this blog but for the most part they were either old hand me down recipes from back East writers or one of Western historic value… both will prevent starvation but you won’t find them on the Food Network Channel. Well, for the sake of being a Heritage recipe I left ‘em alone with no changes from the original and posted them.

That being said, these recipes would take 3rd or 4th place in a contest at my table. I love beans but why on earth are so many recipes missing the mark when it comes to taste? Well, no more!

Frustrated with just too bland or too sugary or just plain fire in your mouth recipes , I took maters into my own hands and came up with what I think is an awesome bean recipe I call Rimrock beans. Why Rimrock you ask? Because I live in Arizona’s High Desert area known as Rimrock and that’s where this recipe was born.

Rimrock is ranch country, where coyotes are more common than F-150 pick up trucks (and believe me, there’s plenty of those). My bean recipe matches the terrain here, a bit spicy but not hot like down in Tucson town, a tad of molasses for sweetness reminds me of our delicious dried up mesquite tree beans. I could go on but you’ll find out for yourself, so lets get to the recipe. I think you’ll really like these beans and it’s all Arizona in taste!


 Brand names are mentioned but not mandatory that you use these brands.

1 – # 10 can of Bush’s pinto beans (111 oz. size can).

2 – 15 oz cans of diced tomatoes with green chili peppers (Hatch brand).

1 – 6 oz can of green chili peppers.

2 – 15 oz cans of chili beans (Great Value from Wal-Mart works well).

1 – can of stewed tomatoes – Mexican recipe (S&W brand).

2 cups of beef stock.

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of salt (taste before adding any more than this as some of the above ingredients contain salt).

1/4 cup of molasses.

1/4 cup of packed brown sugar.

Add all ingredients into a pot big enough to hold a couple of gallons.

Bring to a boil and simmer until reduced to desired thickness. This can range from the consistancy of soup to that of a blop on your plate. It’s your choice. JW

Make your own ground beef

When one thinks of Heritage or trail cooking, the idea of ground meat seems a bit out of place… but is it?

With the invention of the hand cranked meat grinder came a hoard of new recipes.The first Meat grinder was invented back in the 1800s by a German revolutionist, named Karl Friedrich Christian Ludwig Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn, also known as Karl Drais. Don’t you just love those easy to pronounce German names?

The Germans were great sausage makers and when they immigrated to America they brought their recipes and kitchen tools with them. American housewives  instantly saw the advantages of the German hand cranked meat grinder. Before that time, not wanting to waste even the slightest meat, the scraps and fat hunks were generally thrown into the family stew pot making for some barely edible dinners. The meat grinder also made possible sausages that were of a lighter texture without the large pieces of meat and fat in it. Prior to this, one had to use a knife or meat mincer in order to produce even the crudest form of ground meat.

By 1900, nearly every household in America owned one of these hand cranked meat grinders. Today you can buy aftermarket grinders that fit an assortment of stand mixers.So, without any further history lesson lets grind our own meat!

Why grind your own when it’s readily available at the grocery store?

The first reason is sanitation the second cost and the third quality. Ground meat is made from scrap meat. Many of these scraps have questionable beginnings. Remember, in a meat processing plant, not one ounce of meat is wasted ( even meat that falls to the floor). It’s dirty, that’s why it is advisable to cook ground meat until it’s well done. Unfortunately, by the time it’s safe to eat there is little taste left in it. Ground meat made from roast etc is a much safer form of meat. Very few roast fall to the floor.

Do you really believe they grind up sirloin steaks to make ground sirloin? Well, lets talk scraps again… Grinding your own makes such a tasty ground beef that you’ll never buy ground beef again. Plus, since it’s a ‘safe’ cut of meat you can finally have your medium or even rare burger again. Really!


I buy lean top round roast for $2.88 a pound. At Wal Mart ground chuck is almost $5 a pound. I also ask the meat cutter for a couple pounds of beef fat that I add to my ground mix. I try to achieve as close to 80/20 grind (80% meat and 20% fat). This ratio makes awesome burgers and meat loafs.

So here’s the pictorial of grinding meat into hamburger.


The first thing you want to do is trim off  all the large pieces of fat from the roast and grind it along with the extra fat from the butcher. I shield my grinder in aluminum foil to prevent wearing half my meat.



First grind is using the 3/8th inch die for fat and meat. 2nd grind you will use the 1/8th inch die.



In order to prevent contaminating the fat and the roast with bacteria that may be hiding in my kitchen, I place the ground fat in a cloth bag and dip it in a boiling pot of water for 30 seconds. Afterward, I then place each roast also in the boiling water for 30 seconds. The fat and the outer layer of the roast will turn grey in color, that’s normal.



Slice the roast into 3/4 inch thick slices, the slice the slices once again to make 3/4″ X 3/4″ thick pieces of roast. Doing this allows for much faster grinding.IMG_20171009_094146035.jpg


You will grind your meat and fat twice. The first grind will be using the larger of the die plates (3/8″). After this, you’ll regrind this using the smaller of the dies (1/8″).


This is the fat during the second grind. Note the grey color of the blanched fat.


After you have reground the fat and meat using the smallest die, LIGHTLY toss the ground mixture until well mixed. DO NOT compress the meat as this will make for heavy dense burgers. The same is true when forming the meat patties! Gently form it into the size of patty you want and remember to press your thumb in the center to make a small divot. Doing this will prevent the burger from becoming a football. By gently forming (never use a burger press!) the patty, it allows the melting fat to travel throughout the cooking burger. This also prevents an under cooked center.


Last but not least, package your freshly ground beef into 1# packs to be kept fresh or frozen or you can pre-make a bunch of burgers and freeze them.




Mesquite smoked Meat Loaf on a grill? You bet!

Western folk have been known to be quite adventurous when it comes to trail cooking, just look at all the delicious recipes they’ve come up with!
Well, here’s one for the books.
Here in our little town of Rimrock Arizona our good neighbor and friend Jim holds a musical jamboree every third Saturday of the month on some land he bought by the dry creek bed that runs through the town. He built a steel ranch entrance gate with large welded letters on top saying “COWBOY CAMP”. It’s quite something for a little town like ours to have.
An adventurous and kind soul, Jim built a covered stage at his own cost for the bands to play on. Besides the stage, he built a well lit wooden pergola over a line of tables which display a cornucopia of pot luck dishes. The whole affair is a free one (donations are appreciated to help cover its cost but are not required). Jim just wants folks to enjoy themselves to great live music, a variety of delicious food and have an evening of meeting other neighbors. (kind of like a church social but without the Sunday go to meeting dress up attire but unlike a church social, dancing to the music IS encouraged!)
Last Saturday, over 100 people showed up, each bringing their favorite dish. Now with nearly a hundred dishes, them tables were sagging something fierce in the middle! As the evening wore on, the lightened up tables began to straighten up some. Great eating!!!
Which brings me to this, the barbecued meat loaf our good friend Bob grilled up that evening.
One taste and dang if my taste buds didn’t blow a flat! Delicious!!! (He made me take 3 slices, I should smile!)
You need to slow cook these tender loafs so keep the flames down and use your meat thermometer. The longer they cook, the more the mesquite smoke increases in flavor.
So, without further ado here’s Bob’s secret recipe for the best tasting meatloaf you’ll ever cook up.
Thanks Bob, see you next month at the Cowboy Camp!
1-1/4 lbs ground beef
1-1/4 lbs ground pork
1  cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs (cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
1   cup finely chopped yellow onion
1   large egg
1   tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1   tsp. granulated garlic
1   tsp. dried tarragon
1   tsp. kosher salt
1   tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
Soak a good handful of Mesquite wood chips in water for 15 minutes prior to adding them to the hot coals. This will slow the burning and cause a greater amount of delicious tasting smoke.
1. Combine all ingredients using your hands. Divide the meat loaf mixture in half and firm into 2 equal loaves (each about 4″x 6″). Prepare the grill for indirect cooking* over medium-low heat, about 350°.
2. In a small bowl mix the sauce ingredients. Set aside half of sauce to serve with the meat loaf. Top each meat loaf with 3 Tbls. of the remaining sauce and coat thoroughly.
3. Brush the cooking grates clean. Place each loaf directly on cooking grate using a metal spatula. Cook 50 to 60 minutes to internal temperature of 155° (Use a cooking thermometer in 3 different areas of the loaf for this step). Let rest 10 minutes to 160°. Serve with remaining sauce.
4. Enjoy!!!
* Indirect cooking = placing a 9″ baking pan over the center of the coals and filled one third of the way with water. This allows for steam to form and prevents the meat from burning, similar to being cooked in an oven. Place Mesquite chips around the outside of the baking pan, replenish as necessary.

Arizona Dutch Oven Cook Off

Dutch Oven Cook Off

The 5th Annual Dutch Oven Cook Off will be held December 31, 2016.

The Dutch Oven Cook Off is a different type of event than the Chuck Wagon Cook Off, consisting of 3 dishes. Each team will submit their recipe prior to the cook off for the dessert, bread, and main dish they will be preparing. Each dish is judged on Overall Appeal, Appearance & Presentation, Execution of Recipe, Taste, and Difficulty. They will be working with charcoal, while the Chuck use hardwood coals. This style of cooking leads to the heat management of the coals which you might think is something easy to do but there is an art to this technique to make sure your dish comes out just perfect!

The cook off is being sanctioned by the International Dutch Oven Society (IDOS). The winner from this cook off will be eligible to enter into the World Championship Cook Off, which is held in March 2017 in Utah as part of the Internationals Sportsman’s Expo (ISE).

These types of contests are done across the country with several throughout the year in Arizona. Contestants from the Chuck Wagon Cook Off are also able to participate in the Dutch Oven Cook Off.

The general public will have an opportunity to enjoy a sample after the judging from the Dutch Oven Cook Off while supplies last. Competition information will be available in the summer.

This delicious soup defeats the winter blues

photo shown is during cooking. The finished soup will have a creamy texture, not lumpy.

photo shown is during cooking. The finished soup will have a creamy texture, not lumpy.


Home made chicken soup, chili and hot chocolate made from scratch have been a few of the traditional comfort foods that chase away the winter blues but let me add one more… Potato leek carrot soup!

Besides making enough for a great dinner, this recipe will make enough to freeze for those cold winter Arizona days.

Cold? Arizona? You bet! I live just a short gallop south of Flagstaff so cold winter winds and blizzards are common. In fact, the weather outlook is calling for a winter storm warning starting tonight. Let it snow, my larder is full and I’m roasty toasty warm.  But, I digress so let’s get back to the soup.

My recipe makes about 18 – 20 cups. I freeze 3 cups at a time in freezer zip lock bags for future use. Doing this lets me microwave a 3 cup meal in less than 5 minutes. Just what I like when I get a hankering for something quick to eat.

So, if you want, print this one out and add it to your winter recipe list!  JW



8-9 potatoes

6 leeks – cut off root and upper portion of leaves, this will give you about a 6″ tube of leek. cut tube lengthwise then into 1/4″ sections and wash thoroughly to remove sand.

7 carrots – peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds.

3 crushed garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of parsley (fresh is best but dried will work).

2 quarts of chicken stock.

1 quart of vegetable stock.

1 cup of half & half. (a dairy product containing half milk and half cream)

3 tablespoons of flour.

1 teaspoon of salt.

1/2 teaspoon of pepper.

4 tablespoons of butter for sautéing carrots and leeks in.

Enough water to fill the cook pot up to nearly full.



Peel and cut potatoes and carrots into 1/4″ slices, keeping them separated. Cut roots and upper tough leaves from leeks. A 6″ somewhat tender tube will result. slice tube lengthwise and then into 1/4″ slices, wash and drain to remove sand.

In a small pot, combine leeks, crushed garlic, carrots and butter. Sauté until carrots are tender. It is hard to over cook these ingredients but do not let them get burnt!

In an 8 quart pot, cook potatoes down until tender enough to mash. drain potatoes when done and add the sautéed leeks, carrots, parsley and garlic to potatoes in the 8 quart pot.

Using a hand potato masher, mash all the ingredients until it forms a paste, let it cool down, then  scoop the mash into a food processor and add the quart of vegetable stock and process until creamy! (2-3 minutes). (if required, multiple batches may be needed to complete processing. Just divide the stock so that a creamy mixture is achieved.)

When processed, pour the entire mix back into the 8 quart pot and add the 2 quarts of chicken stock to mash. Fill the pot to 1″ of lip with water and bring to a boil.

Add salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, place the flour and cold half & half then mix thoroughly until no lumps appear. Add this into the boiling pot. Stir until well mixed. This will thicken the soup.

Return to a boil and boil for 5 minutes longer. Stir frequently to thicken.

The end result will be a creamy, non lumpy soup ready to eat.

If freezing, let soup cool down again before placing into zip lock freezer bags. Enjoy!!!

A new book to read while you wait for the oven to heat

Now at Amazon.com
bekkes law book cover

A two part story combined into one book… at a single book price!

Bekke’s Law is a different kind of Western. You will find yourself cheering for her as she struggles to survive in a western world pitted against her, yet in the end, she wins.

“My name is Bekke Hillstrand and in a few minutes I’m gonna’ go back inside an’ plug the last of the men I hate. My father.  I killed my first man at age seven, pushed him off a cliff as he was makin’ water. He never uttered a word, just made ‘Uh, Uh’ sounds as he went down. I never felt so good, I felt I finally had some control of my life.  It took another nine years before number two got it. Him I run over with a freight wagon up in Yavapai County Arizona an’ made it look like a tragic accident. It was hard not to cheer an’ clap as his body tumbled over and over under the wagon bed. He broke four hundred of the two hundred and six bones in his body by the time the wagon passed over him. I’ll tell you about the other four I kilt but first I need to start at the beginning so’s you don’t think I’m a murderess or vile woman. Men do what I’m doin’ all the time out here in the West an’ they simply call it justice served. So why should it be any different just ‘cause I’m a girl?”

Excerpt from Belle’s Law, page 1.

Now available at Amazon.com

To all my readers who enjoy old fashioned cooking, I have a treat for you. In my latest short story, Biscuit, the camp cook plays a major role in saving the cattle herd during a Texas wildfire!

This is the second of my stories to be published by Red Dashboard publishing and available on Amazon.com. As was my book, Sunset “Gold” Canyon, ‘Wildfire on the Brazos’ is one in a series of short stories in the revived “Dime Novel” series. These may well become collector items.


WildFire[DimeStore5x8] copy