To enjoy a cowboy meal, roping, riding, and rounding up cattle are not prerequisites—at least no longer. Back in the Old West, cowhands on cattle drives needed hearty breakfasts to support them during the day when calf-roping was a livelihood and not a rodeo event.
While modern-day versions provide better nutrition, with its robust, rib-sticking victuals from a bygone age, the Old West breakfast is the hallmark.
Here is what you need to hear about breakfast for cowboys and how to do it!
History of Cowboy Breakfast
During the American frontier, the word “cowboy breakfast” originated in the old West. Hard-working people were the original frontiersmen, women and cowboys and they needed a hearty, rib-sticking breakfast to get them working on the cattle drive or ranch for long days.
Frontier breakfasts were also constrained by what on the chuckwagon could be easily stored and transported. These breakfasts were made from dried beans, flour, ground corn, lard, hard-tack crackers, coffee beans, and broadsides of salt-cured meat.
The cowboys would cook breakfast every morning over a hot fire in cast iron barbecues, skillets, and pots. Meals were mostly made up of hot coffee, a big pot of beans, and biscuits baked in a cast-iron pot. Moreover, these are slathered with lard and gravy.
Griddles, Grills, and Iron Cast Pots
Although today’s classics are the flame-grilled flavor and cast-iron cookery, there were no other options for the cooks who filled the cowboys’ bellies before they saddled up in the morning. For the morning and night vittles, the campfire acted as the primary heat source.
A large pot of beans bubbled overnight to enjoy their morning frijoles by the Texas cowboys. In another pan, browned biscuits were slathered with lard and covered with thick gravy and became the gold standard for typical beans and biscuits, cooked over a fire in a cast-iron pan.
Cowboy’s Breakfast Today
The term “Cowboy Breakfast” evolved today to include eggs and skillet potatoes, bacon or sausage, and to round out the plate, maybe biscuits and gravy.
Since the American frontier days, one thing has stayed constant: a cowboy breakfast will hold to the ribs and keep you going all day!
How to Make Cowboy Breakfast
- 6 breakfast sausage links, diced
- 6 slices of deli ham, diced
- 3 small potatoes, peeled and shredded
- 1 C cheddar cheese, shredded
- 5 large eggs
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp salt & pepper
- Green onion to garnish
- Olive oil
- In a skillet, add oil and position over medium-low heat. Attach the diced sausage, then cook until it is browned. Withdraw, set aside.
- Drizzle the skillet once more with olive oil.
- Add the shredded potatoes, then cook until they are browned. Press the flat potatoes.
- Similarly, apply cumin, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper to the potatoes. Cover the cheese with half of it.
- Layer the ham, the bacon, then the cheese. Carefully crack, uniformly distributed, each egg on top.
- Place the skillet for around 5 minutes under the broiler or until it is cooked to the desired temperature. Note: Oven temperatures can vary, so watch your eggs closely!
- Green onion garnish. To carefully serve, use a spatula.
Beyond the Contemporary
Cowboys today are no longer limited to what a chuckwagon can bring, and modern cowboy breakfasts can include fresh strawberries, home-fried potatoes, spicy salsa, as well as sugar and cream in your coffee with refrigeration.
Sausage and bacon are new and not cut from months-old slabs on today’s cowboy menu; quality is taken for granted in the western world.
There is also a place of honor for biscuits and gravy at this table, and flapjacks hot off the griddle, fresh-pressed tortillas, and cornbread or corn muffins can be found. It’s an excellent way to start your day to make a cowboy breakfast at home — even if you’re not going to rope cattle or wear a ten-gallon hat.