Frontier Recipes – The ‘Real’ Old Stuff From The Old West

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“Cowpunchers took just what they got – sowbelly, beans and the ol’ coffeepot.”

– H.H. Knibbs


Camp Cook Marfa, TX - Lee Russell, 1939.

Camp Cook Marfa, TX – Lee Russell, 1939. Click for prints, downloads and products.

Raccoon Fricassee

  • 1 Raccoon
  • 1 onion, sliced into rings
  • 1/2 C vinegar
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 2-3 T lard or other fat
  • 1 bay leaf

Skin the raccoon, remove the musk glands and dress out the carcass. Soak in salt water overnight to draw out the blood. Baking soda can be added to the water to remove any gamey smell.  Cut raccoon into serving pieces and dredge in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown in hot fat. Add remaining ingredients. cover and simmer 2 hours or until tender. Thicken the juice with flour and water mixture for gravy. Serve hot with cornbread.

Beef Jerky

  • Several pounds of flank steak
  • Salt and seasoning salt
  • Pepper

Trim fat and slice steak with the grain into l/4- to l/2-inch (1 cm) strips. Lightly salt strips or soak them overnight in a solution of water and 2 table-spoons salt. Arrange strips on skewers, season with seasoning salt and pepper and hang in a smoker or lay them on oven racks in an oven set to its lowest temperature (175 to 200F), with door slightly ajar to permit moisture to escape. (If you are using an oven, place a shallow pan under the meat to catch drippings.) Drying time varies. In an oven, 8 to 10 hours is usually sufficient. Dried meat should be tough and leathery, not quite brittle. Store in plastic or cloth bags in a cool, dry place.


Equal quantities jerky and animal fat Dried berries (optional)

Pound jerky to break up fibers. In a skillet, melt fat, making sure it does not boil or smoke. Stir pounded jerky into fat, along with dried berries, if desired. Let fat cool and cut pemmican into candy-bar-sized chunks. Store in plastic, cloth or rawhide bags in cool, dry place.

Planked Whitefish

  • 1 whitefish
  • 4-5 strips bacon
  • 2-3 T cooking oil (they used animal fat, so you could substitute Lard)
  • salt and pepper
  • Coarse salt
  • Oak plank

Season whitefish with salt and pepper. Heat oak plank near the fire. Oil the fish and put it in the center of the board. Cover the exposed part of the board with coarse salt to keep it from burning. Spread bacon on top of the fish.  then prop the board in front of the fire and bake about 45.

Pease Porridge

  • 1 lb split peas
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 T butter
  • salt and pepper

Soak and cook split peas, drain liquid, and puree peas. Mash peas into a smooth puree. Add butter, eggs, salt and pepper. Pour into a greased bowl and cover tightly so it won’t dry out. Steam for 1 hour. Place bowl on atrivet in a Dutch oven. Place 2 inches of water in the bottom of the Dutch ovev, cover tightly, and bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Left-overs can be sliced and fried in butter. Traditionally served with pork or sausage.


  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1/2 C oatmeal
  • salt and pepper

Chop bacon into 1-inch chunks and fry. When grease coats the pan, add sliced onion. Cook until transparent. Add oatmeat to absorb the fat, keeping the mixture thick. Stir for 7-10 minutes, till cooked. Serve with mincemeat roasted poultry, or as a main dish when the larder is bare.

Mouse Pie

  • 5 fat field mice
  • 1 cup macaroni
  • 1/2 thinly sliced medium onion
  • 1 medium can tomatoes
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Boil macaroni 10 minutes. While it is cooking, fry the field mice long enough to fry out some of the excess fat. Grease a casserole with some of this fat and put a layer of macaroni on it. Add onions, then tomatoes, salt and pepper well. Add field mice and cover with remaining macaroni. Sprinkle the top with cracker crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees about 20 minutes or until mice are well done.

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