Wyoming Cowgirl - On the Ranch

On the Ranch

Ranch Vittles
by Cris Paravicini

Mom's Biscuits
Milk Gravy

     Many a situation has been solved, plans ironed out, and more than a smidgen of BS cussed and discussed around a ranch's kitchen table. Ours is no exception. Even the grimmest of days is made brighter if you have a bellyful of good grub. 

     Here on the ranch, we literally eat tons of beef- usually three times a day. Despite the advice of the "food pyramid," meat has always been our mainstay - the biggest portion on our plates - like a big, warm blanket smothering all those grains, fruits, and vegetables. You simply can't lift and load, or ride and spur without a pretty healthy chunk of meat under your belt.

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Rib Stickin' Ranch Vittles

     Now, bear with me and give 'em a try. Ranch cooks have cooking measurements all their own - a pinch or dab of this, a handful or splash of that, and especially, a built-in feel and eye for knowing when the recipe is just about right.  You can rest assured that most ranch recipes will turn out tasty as heck, whether or not the exact ingredients are used. Our all-time favorite chow - Mom's Biscuits, Steak, and Milk Gravy - will take you from dawn to dusk at a high lope:

Dip chunks of round steak (or whatever cut you feel like chompin' on) in white flour, then fork it into a cast iron skillet floatin' in hot oil or bacon grease. Fry it up till only the clear juice is left and set in a warm spot to wait a spell (about ten minutes). While the steak is simmering along, mix up your biscuit dough.

In a large bowl, dump 2 cups of flour, 1 heaping tablespoon of solid shortening or lard, 1 teaspoon (plus a pinch) of salt, and 1 tablespoon (plus a dab more) of baking powder. Now, set your utensils aside and reach right into the bowl with your fingertips. Pinch and caress the shortening into the flour mix until it all blends into marble-sized pieces. Grab up your long-handled stirring spoon and start pouring some cow milk or store milk into the dry mix until everything is pretty danged moist. Then either drop the dough by spoonfuls (called "sore finger biscuits") or roll it out on your floured countertop and cut with an old, tin can (both ends cut out). Dip each biscuit top in melted butter or shortening and place on a cookie sheet - with each biscuit just rubbing its buddy's shoulder. Slide your effort into a 400-degree, preheated (or not) oven (if you forget to turn the oven on ahead of time, it won't ruin your day or your biscuits). Bake for about ten minutes.

Stir some white flour into the same cast iron skillet with the browned steak clinkers and hot grease. Add more bacon grease or oil, if not enough to dampen the flour. Then slowly pour homegrown or store-bought milk into the mixture, stirring and whipping the browned clinkers, flour, and milk until blended just right. So it doesn't scorch, keep right on exercising your elbow and wrist until everything comes to a bubbling boil. Add a splash more of milk or cream, if the gravy is too thick. Shake a dab of salt and pepper over your rearin'-to-go gravy and scoop generously over a pair, or more, of hot biscuits. Pull up a chair and dig in. Ah, yes, Heaven on a tin plate!

The Pearson Angus Ranch is located approximately 2 miles northwest of Daniel, Wyoming, and 11 miles west of Pinedale, where she lives along with her husband, Rudy. Historic old Fort Bonneville, built in the late 1800s, is located next to her family's ranch. Cris is a writer and photographer for The Sublette County Journal newspaper, where you can find more of her accounts of life on the ranch. Cris can be reached by e-mail at: cowgirl@wyoming.com.

Copyrights: Photos and page text content copyrighted, Cris Paravicini, 2000. No part may be reproduced without permission of the author/photographer. Page graphics copyrighted, Pinedale Online, 2000.

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