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Tom Perini’s Chuck-Wagon Stew & More


In the February issue’s Taste department, writer Jessica Dupuy embarks on a wine-tasting trip on the Rio Grande with folks from Terlingua’s Far Flung Outdoors Center and Lubbock’s Llano Estacado Winery. Along with wine, she and the rest of her companions enjoy gourmet meals prepared over a campfire or in Dutch ovens. We thought we’d revisit some old favorites with these classic Dutch-oven recipes from the Texas Highways recipe vaults. (You can make these dishes in a regular Dutch oven, as well.) Enjoy!

Tom Perini’s Chuck-Wagon Stew

Tom Perini, chef and owner of Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, likes to serve this dish from his restored 1800s chuck wagon. He says the fat from the brisket and the bacon drippings add flavor, and he notes, “I like to leave the pot on the fire for some time to let the flavors marry.” This recipe comes from Tom’s 2000 cookbook, Texas Cowboy Cooking , which also includes his recipe for skillet cornbread, a fine accompaniment.

  • 8 lb. of brisket with excess fat trimmed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 c. bacon drippings
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 medium white onions, chopped
  • 4 to 6 medium-sized potatoes, scrubbed, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 c. fresh corn, cut from the cob (1 ear = about 2/3 c.)
  • 1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (6-oz.) can chopped green chilies

Cut brisket into bite-sized cubes, and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat bacon drippings in a 14-inch or 16-inch Dutch oven or heavy pot, and brown meat in batches, being careful not to crowd meat in the pot. After all the meat has browned, return it to the pot, add garlic and onion, and cook over low heat about 4 minutes, or until garlic and onion are tender. Add water to cover, and bring to a slow boil; cook about 1 hour, or until meat is tender.

Add remaining ingredients and additional water to cover, and bring back to a slow boil for about 1 hour, or until stew is fully cooked. Add more seasoning, if desired. Yield: About 20 servings.

Dutch-Oven Peach Cobbler 

  • 1 recipe Vinegar Pie Crust, divided (see below)
  • 1 6-lb.10-oz. can sliced peaches in light syrup
  • 2/3 c. butter or margarine
  • 3 c. water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c. flour
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg

Grease bottom and sides of 16-inch Dutch oven, and dust lightly with flour. Roll out one-half of pie crust dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Line bottom of Dutch oven with pie crust, and set aside. In a separate pot, heat peaches, margarine, water, and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients, and stir slowly into peach mixture, mixing well. Cook until hot. Remove from heat, and pour into pie crust-lined Dutch oven. Roll out remaining pie crust dough to 1/8-inch thickness, and place on top. Place lid on Dutch oven, and put hot, live coals on lid. Bake 15-20 minutes or until top is golden brown, making sure to rotate Dutch oven often. (Baking time varies according to the amount of wind.)

Vinegar Pie Crust

  • 4 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 3/4 c. shortening
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 T. cider vinegar
  • 1 egg

Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture in crumbly. Combine water, vinegar, and egg, and beat well with a fork. Add a shortening mixture, and mix well. Chill at least two hours before using. (Make enough crust for one Peach Cobbler or two 9-inch double-crust pies.)


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