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Cooking the Cowboy Way: Recipes Inspired by Campfires, Chuck Wagons, and Ranch Kitchens [Hardcover]

Grady Spears , June Naylor , Kelly Frazier , David Manning

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Book Description

Oct. 20 2009
Life in the saddle, on the trail, and in the outback has forged a style of living that cowboy-turned-chef Grady Spears calls the Cowboy Way. It's a life where boots and hats are much more about function than fashion. It means that when you eat, drink, and breathe the tending of cattle, raising beef is not just some exercise where loss is charted on a spreadsheet. When your days are filled with the smells of fresh-cut hay and the creaking of worn leather, when you wake up with the sun and to the smell of coffee on the boil and biscuits from the chuck wagon, you are living the Cowboy Way.

Because cowboys spend long days outdoors in every kind of weather, sometimes for weeks at a time, satiating a cowboy's hunger is a challenge for ranch cooks from Texas to Florida, north into Canada, and south of the border into Mexico. This collection of almost one hundred recipes is not only the result of Grady's journey across North America, but also the cowboy's journey through history.

In Cooking the Cowboy Way, you'll have a ringside seat at the rodeo as Grady wrestles down new recipes from some incredible cowboy cooks and kitchen wranglers who know what hungry cow folks want to eat. And in the process, you'll be carried away by the magic of starry nights by the campfire and seduced by the heritage of the chuck wagon and ranch kitchens, where the menus are still stoked by the traditions of the Old West just as they have been for a century or more.

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About the Author

Native Texan and cowboy-turned-chef Grady Spears has created cowboy menus for restaurants he co-owned in Fort Worth, Texas; Granbury, Texas; and Beverly Hills, California, as well as for the Bush family at the Texas Governor's Mansion. This is Grady's fifth cookbook. He owns Grady's Restaurant in his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas.

Award-winning journalist and author June Naylor has covered food, dining, and travel for more than twenty years. She is a frequent contributor to a number of Texas newspapers and magazines, as well as to national periodicals and Web sites. With Grady, June wrote The Texas Cowboy Kitchen. A native Texan, she lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview of Ranch, Campfire and Chuck Wagon Cooking Jan. 10 2010
By Charles G. Thompson - Published on
Growing up on the central coast of California was paradisaical in many ways. The natural beauty. The rural feeling. My relatives close by. Farm fresh fruits and vegetables always at hand. Food and family often intermixed. My great-great-aunt Ona Chandler married into the Dana family -- a Spanish land grant family dating back to before California was a state when it still belonged to Mexico. Spanish land grants weren't actually Spanish, they were Mexican. Huge tracts of land that the Mexican government gave away to white men if they married the daughters of Mexican soldiers who were stationed in 'Alta California' -- the name it had at the time. The goal was to populate the region but it backfired when the white man took the land away from Mexico eventually making it the State of California. The Dana family operated a rancho near the small town of Nipomo -- a cow town, full of farmers and ranchers. Cattle was raised in the surrounding hills, and still is. And naturally where there's beef there's barbecue. Not just in Nipomo but also in the surrounding area: Santa Maria, Arroyo Grande, and San Luis Obispo. It's called Santa Maria-style barbecue and the cut used is tri-tip.

Santa Maria-style barbecue is a method of outdoor cooking that dates back to the early ranchos and land grants. It is still extremely popular and these days men spend weekends grilling away in grocery store parking lots on mobile barbecue pits; the smell of the oak wood fire, and grilling meat wafting in the air. Because of my Aunt Onie our family has a strong link to the area as well as to this style of cooking. As a child during the summer months the Nipomo's Men's Club held community barbecues on the weekends. A pit barbecue was brought to the Nipomo Community Center and the local men grilled tri-tip over oak and served it with homemade salsa, local pinquito beans, salad, and garlic bread. We sat outside at picnic tables covered with white paper and ate until we were full. And boy was it good eating. I have very fond memories of those days. Of those weathered cowboys both white and Latino who pitched in to cook that delicious food; and of the community coming together to feast.

When I received 'Cooking The Cowboy Way' for review, I immediately thought back to those summer barbecues. I was excited to see what recipes were included. Campfire, chuck wagon, and ranch cooking is a very distinctive way of cooking and one that I love. There's nothing quite like the experience, and the flavors, of cooking bacon and eggs, or a steak over an open campfire. The book is a wonderful compendium of this style of cooking. Chef, restaurant owner, and author Grady Spears explores this way of cooking by highlighting working ranches, and their food and recipes across North America. Each chapter is devoted to a different ranch in such states as Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Florida and Alberta, Canada. He includes cooking secrets, photos and stories about the cowboy way of life. While I was reading through it, it made me want to pack up my cast iron pan, and my camping gear, grab my horse, and hit the open road. I have everything but the horse. Maybe car camping is in the near future instead.

I cooked several recipes from the book and they were all a huge success. The recipes were well-written, easy to follow and pleased several friends that came over to eat them to the point that they asked for the recipes for themselves. The 'Porterhouse Steaks with Wildcatter Steak Rub' from the Wildcatter Ranch in Graham, Texas were heavenly -- the rub is a definite keeper. The salt pork and the jalapeño pepper gave the pinto beans in 'Tom's Ranch Beans' from the Perini Ranch in Buffalo Gap, Texas a full-flavored kick. A sprinkle of chili powder on the 'Golden Corn Bread Muffins' from Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe, Arizona provided a welcome boost; and the 'Autumn Pear Crisp' also from the Perini Ranch was the hit of the meal. The food and flavors in 'Cooking The Cowboy Way' are simple, big and satisfying. This is not haute cuisine nor should it be. This type of cooking came about because of a need to feed large numbers of hungry men; it had to be easy to prepare as well as filling. It also had to be cooked for the most part out of doors which adds another layer to the cooking and eating experience. To me food always tastes different, better, when cooked outside. The wood fire, the fresh air, the grilling meat are intoxicating. I was a little uncertain when I saw several recipes that listed things like garlic and onion powder, granulated beef base, canned goods, and commercial condiments but then I realized it's a different style of cooking, that it's not, as I mentioned, high cuisine, and that some of these ingredients make sense for these recipes. From what I experienced with the recipes I made they had no bearing whatsoever on the taste of the food. I definitely plan to cook more out of this book while checking my food snobbery at the kitchen door. 'Cooking The Cowboy Way' is a book worthy of everyone's cookbook shelves.
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money Oct. 29 2009
By Don J. Grant - Published on
If your looking for a cookbook, this is not the one. If your looking for entertaining reading and some nice pictures you will probably enjoy it. If your looking for some of Grady's tried and proven recipes, buy all of his other books. This one seems like an attempt to use his name to sell some books and stroke some of his friends back.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good cook Dec 8 2011
By Tex - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the perfect gift for the man in your life. I never thought my husband would love a cookbook, but when he is in charge of the meal, this is his "go to" cookbook.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories that will last a life time. Aug. 25 2010
By D. Nigro - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been cooking with cast iron cookware for over 40 years.I enjoy stepping back in time and reliving those rustic years of days gone by.
When my girls were just knee high to a grasshopper I would take them camping and they always liked waking up to the smell of bacon,biscuts,home fries,eggs and grits over the camp fire.My girls are all grown up now and have children of their own and have blessed me with more memories,taking my grand children to those memorable camp fires, the morning breakfast and the adventure of the outdoors.
Nothing will ever compare to the time spent with your children and grand children,making memories for when you grow old and can't do it any longer,I hope I never see that day come.
But just like my grand mother handed down the cast iron cookware to my mother and my mother handed down same to me,I too will hand it down to my children along with the memories I will cherish forever.
The Cooking the Cowboy Way is about one of the finest recipe books I come across and would reccommend it to anyone,it's cooking made easy.
Why not start today and build memories with your children and grand kids.They grow up too quick and before you know it the time is gone, lost forever.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic Jan. 9 2010
By Dianna J. Ruberto - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
the book is colorful and well written with great pictures - both of the food and the landscape. the recipes are delicious, too. i haven't made them all yet, but i will. it is a great purchase for a cook or cookbook collector.

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