Two things are certain: Life on the range stirs up a big appetite and brunch is serious business. Cowboy cooking by its nature is honest, straightforward, hearty comfort food. It’s approachable but simple and filling. Part of its appeal is that it is the cuisine of a certain place. It’s cooking with gusto, big, bold flavors and local techniques. I call it, “food with a strong regional personality.”
I don’t think in the past you’d find many “real” cowboy brunches. But we live in a time and era now where there’s a loud call for the use of fresh herbs, lots of vegetables and local ingredients. Dishes need to be lighter than more traditional cowboy fare. Brunch is perfect for the evolution of cowboy breakfast to cowboy brunch.
According to some accounts, cowboy breakfasts originated in the Wild West when cattlemen gathered around to refuel their bodies from a long, rough day of riding and roping. They ate next to a campfire or in a family farmhouse. Breakfast was robust and full of protein. When you hear the term “cowboy” applied to a culinary event, it generally describes large breakfast spreads with the menu items vary by region.
Who better to help on the quest for a cowboy brunch than a cooking school in Montana? Did you know Montana is trending big time in culinary circles? I know, I know. You were probably thinking more Yellowstone Park, the Bighorn mountains, Glacier Park, huckleberries, Elk, Bison, and trout. Well…while you were looking at the scenery and wildlife, Montana was setting its sights on gastronomic fame. Nowhere can you find the epicurean buzz more than in Missoula.
Who would have known that I would find the perfect contemporary cowboy brunch recipes and wine pairings in a cooking class at the Good Food Store in Missoula, Montana? If you can think what the child of Whole Foods and Bristol Farms might look like-- a big splashy healthy wonderland of a marketplace--you’ll understand what a Good Food Store is like.
Good Food Store instructor Emily Walter took on 5 food writers for a special brunch cooking class using only local ingredients. Never knew beet hash with bacon, kale & eggs could be so good. Ever had lemon Ricotta pancakes with Flathead cherries? You should. Definitely. My station created a winter citrus salad with Quinoa, kale, blood orange & pistachio. Trust me, it was “all that” and more. In fact, it was the perfect contemporary cowboy brunch trio.
Fresh, locally sourced with a healthy base makes this an outstanding brunch trio.
Beet Hash with Bacon, Kale & Eggs Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Flathead Cherries Winter Citrus Salad with Quinoa, Kale, Blood Orange & Pistachios
The Recipes & Wine Pairings Recipes compliments of Emily Walter Wine pairings compliments of Matt Fry
Beet Hash with Bacon, Kale & Eggs Elk Cove – Pinot Noir [Willamette Valley Oregon] - $24.99 - 750ml [silky, spicy Red]
1 pound beets, peeled & diced 1/2 pound Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed & diced Coarse salt & freshly ground pepper 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 small onion, diced 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1 cup washed & chopped kale 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 slices cooked bacon, crumbled 4 large eggs
1. In a high-sided skillet, cover beets and potatoes with water and bring to a boil. 2. Season with salt and cook until tender, about seven minutes. Drain, reserve. Wipe out skillet. 3. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and kale and cook, stirring for two minutes. Add two tablespoons water and cook until tender, about four minutes. Remove and reserve. 4. Add boiled beets and potatoes and cook until potatoes begin to turn golden, about four minutes. 5. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust seasoning and stir in red pepper flakes and reserved kale mixture. 6. Make four wide wells in the hash. Crack one egg into each and season egg with salt. Cook until whites set but yolks are still runny, five to six minutes. YIELD: 4 servings # # #
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Flathead Cherries Montana Ciderworks – North Fork Traditional Cider - $11.29 - 750ml [Local Cider from Bitterroot Valley Apples] 1 1/2 cups flour 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt, divided 1/4 cup sugar 4 eggs, separated 1 1/2 cups buttermilk 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 1/2 cup ricotta cheese 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest 1 1/2 cups blueberries 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar 1. Place the flour, baking powder and 3/4 teaspoon salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix well. 2. Add the egg yolks, buttermilk, ricotta, vanilla, lemon zest and mix just until combined. 3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric beater until stiff peaks form. 4. Add the blueberries and egg whites to the batter and fold the mixture together. 5. Place a griddle or pan that has been lightly coated with butter. 6. Ladle approximately 1/3 cup of the batter onto the hot griddle or pan for each pancake. Allow to cook long enough for bubbles to appear on the tops of the pancakes before flipping them. 7. Cook until golden brown. 8. Serve with warm maple syrup and a handful of Flathead Cherries. YIELD: 4 to 6 servings # # #
Winter Citrus Salad with Quinoa, Kale, Blood Orange & Pistachios Argyle - Brut [Willamette Valley Oregon] - $23.49 - 750ml [Bubbly, of course] Simple Vinaigrette 1 lemon, juiced 1 tablespoon maple syrup 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons olive oil Salt & pepper, to taste Combine all the ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Shake well to combine. Salad 2 cups kale, chopped into 1” pieces 1 blood orange 1/4 cup shelled pistachios 1/2 avocado, cubed 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese 1/2 cup cooked quinoa 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, garnish 1. Toss the kale with the vinaigrette and let it soak. 2. Slice off the top and bottom of the blood orange using a pairing knife. Cut around the fruit to remove the peel and pithy layer. Slice the orange into wedges and then carefully chop into bite-sized pieces. 3. Add the chopped orange to the kale along with pistachios, avocado, quinoa and goat cheese. Mix well. 4. Divide salad between bowls. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve. YIELD: 4 servings # # #