Weekend Cooking: Cowboy Food

I read Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls with my book club last month. We all loved the main character, Lily. I believe she was beloved by her family because they carried the stories of her life down through the generations. Her granddaughter, the author, fictionalized Lily’s life in this book.

Lily and her husband managed a ranch of considerable size for investors in England. It was an extremely busy life for all of them. Not too long after taking this job Lily decided she needed to eliminate some of her jobs. She decided to clean house only every other month or so. Cooking was another job she simplified.

“I kept the cooking basic as well. I didn’t make dishes the way fancy eastern housewives did–souffles and sauces and garnished this and stuffed that. I made food. Beans were my specialty. I always had a pot of them on the stove, and that usually lasted two to four days, depending on how many cowboys we had around. My recipe was fairly simple: Boil beans, salt to taste.When we weren’t having beans, we had steak. My recipe or steak was also fairly simple: Fry on both sides, salt to taste.”

Yes, that’s pretty basic cooking. I’d like to think Lily had a garden out there on the ranch and was able to add some veggies to the family’s diet. My book club isn’t the only one to read and talk about this book. In The Book Club Cook Book (my review is here), a book club in Lebanon, Pennsylvania read the book and devised a dish to match the story. They developed Cowboy Hash served on Cornbreaed Fritters. I thought it sounded delicious and decided to give it a try.

The Cowboy Hash is very similar to how I make chili: ground beef, chili seasonings and beans. I usually add tomatoes but they added kernels of corn. What really caught my eye was that they served the Cowboy Hash on Cornbread Fritters. Cornbread squares or muffins are familiar to me, but I’ve never made Cornbread Fritters. I decided to give them a try. Here’s the recipe.

Cornbread Fritters


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2.5 teaspoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus enough for frying the fritters
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk


  1. In a medium bowl, stir together cornmweal, sugar, salt, flour and baking powder. In s small bowl, beat together egg, oil, and buttermilk. Stir liquid into dry ingredients. Mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. The recipe called for 1/3 to 1/2 cup. I thought that was too much so I used XX.
  3. Drop by spoon into the hot oil – similar to the way you make pancakes. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve the Cowboy Hash (chili) over the top of the Fritters.

This made 20 Fritters, each about the size of a silver dollar. They had a nice crunchy corn taste and were good mixed with the Cowboy Hash (or chili) on top. Overall, the Fritters were good but not great. My husband said they reminded him of Johnnycakes. He said they were good but he likes my regular cornbread better.

Because I am counting my carbs, I figured this one out. Each Fritter was 8 grams of carbohydrates. Not bad for carbs. I don’t think I want to know the fat grams as I suspect it’s high.  I won’t be eating these on a regular basis.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly feature at Beth Fish Reads. Click the button below and it will take you there.

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