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Jan 17, 2011 05:48 PM

what would be on the menu in the wild wild west?

hi all! so i am having a dinner party and need your expert help!

the theme is "western" in the non-historically accurate sense - so any cliche goes! i am needing to plan a menu hopefully to reflect the cliched west. obviously there will be whiskey in the saloon...but that ain't food.

luckily i have a bunch of outgoing food friends so they are pretty much open to anything. if you were hosting a wild wild west dinner party, what would you like to see on the menu?

and if you feel so inclined, any decorating ideas?

have a great day

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  1. carpaccio - call it buffalo Rome.
    dessert? maybe a vanilla or chocolate Custer pie.
    place settings for your cousins, because of the aunt elope play.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Veggo

      Oh, that last line is just awful! (As dad would say: a pun, the lowest form of humor. Of course, that was immediately after offering something as bad as aunt elope ;)

      Although the song does call to mind a suggestion for venison.

      1. re: Veggo

        Cute! At least you've still got a sense of humor.

      2. Beans for sure!!!! Why do you think they were called "rootin' tootin' cowboys"? LOL. Big buttered biscuits and steak.

        I have made a cowboy steak before. It really tastes like the West! Take some quality ground coffee, ground coriander, salt and -lots of pepper. Put it in a ziplock bag. Toss in the steak and thinly coat it. Get a cast iron pan nice and hot, throw in some oil, sizzle the steak until preferred doneness (cowboys like it medium rare), then put a slab of butter on top while it rests. Try it and see if it tastes like a one eyed, scruffy cook just tossed it to you off a chow wagon. A flat iron steak is a tasty way to feed lots of cowpokes.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sedimental

          Beans were my thoughts exactly! Specifically the 'farting' beans from Blazing Saddles

        2. Try reading The Pioneer Woman Cooks (google it:) for inspiration. Sounds like a fun theme...enjoy!

          1. Beef, Venison, Bison and Elk, Bacon and Ham would've been the main protein sources, along with any fish you could catch. Cat'shead biscuits and skillet-baked cornbread with honey and/or gravy. About the only readily available veg. were potatoes and onions; hence skillet-fried potatoes and onions or a vinegar/onion dressed German potato salad. Baked beans for sure: pintos, onions, ham hocks, salt and pepper. You could get away with cabbage and carrots too, for a slaw or a hot dish. Apples were around: what about good old apple cobbler, or dried apricot pie?
            It might be fun, if your friends are the type, to ask each one to wear an outfit representing his/her favorite character from those times and then work it into a game of charades. And if you have a garage, you might want to set it up with haybales and benches and have you a good old dance, square or not!
            This would be a really fun meal plan to deconstruct; what can you up the bar on, what should stay the same, how authentic do you really want to be? You might check out "The Little House Cookbook." it's got wonderful authentic recipes, or "Cross Creek Cookery." Have a ball!!

            1. Hangtown Fry: an omlette made with eggs, bacon and fried oysters that was purportedly invented when a 49er walked into a saloon after a big strike and told the cook to make him something with the most expensive ingredients he had. ( If you want to keep in the Gold Rush vein (npi) you could serve it with Pisco Sours which were especially popular because of the Chileans on the gold fields and the pisco that was much easier to get than the ryes and bourbons that had to be imported from back East.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Trencher man

                Good call on the Piscos, Trencher man. Also, I neglected to mention sourdough which was very commonly used. Also I believe boilermakers were a heavily enjoyed beverage at the time. If your friends will eat it, rabbit stew with dumplings. And as an app., if you're looking for one, oysters would be perfectly appropriate as Trencherman says; they did get 'em through on the trains sometimes.

                1. re: mamachef

                  Yup, bad whiskey and sour beer was the beverage du jour back then, mamachef.

                  sara jane - Here's a very informative but fun page with tons of history on and ideas for cowboy cookery, old saloon fare, gold rush fare, wagon train cookery, food prices in those days, plus book recommendations for research, etc, from Click on the link for the era you're interested in:


                  Here's another wild west cowboy vittles site with actual recipes, son-of-a-bitch stew, red bean pie and sourdough biscuits, anyone?