YEEHA! Welcome to this week’s meal plan y’all — plenty of delicious recipes for cowgirls and cowboys.
I spent the past week in Texas, visiting an old friend and colleague from KPMG, and attended a great conference and training event in San Antonio. In addition, it was an excellent business trip to the Lonestar state, where everything is bigger and better. I can highly recommend visiting this fantastic area.
Welcome to Texas
The famous battle of the Alamo was in 1836, when the Mexican army reclaimed the Alamo Mission, killing most people inside the mission, much to the dismay of Texans and Tejanos. Nevertheless, the slaughter inspired the Texans and Tejanos to rise and defeat the Mexican army a month later.
Texas joined the United States of America in 1845, which triggered the American-Mexican war. Unfortunately, it joined Southern states on the Confederation side during the civil war in 1861. Not one of the finer moments.
Texas has been my inspiration for cowboys and the wild frontier. As a kid, we would play cowboy and Indians riding on the plains of Texas. From reading about Boone (and other famous characters), I know that the frontier was pushed forward in many midwestern states. However, I’ve always been fascinated with Texas from afar and was excited when I got the opportunity to visit.
Before WWII, Texas’s leading economy was made up of oil and cattle, although it also had a strong agriculture industry. The famous longhorn cattle roamed the prairie, and seasoned cowboys herded the giant animals long distances, bringing a fantastic outdoor cooking approach.
Meat is essential to Texan cuisine, with fantastic BBQ and smokehouses elevating the outdoor cooking technique. As a result, it is almost impossible to visit a restaurant or eatery without being served beef.
I flew into Dallas later on Friday evening, jumped into my rental car, and headed toward my friend’s homestead.
Yes, he has a homestead which is a small farm. However, in his case, it is a little larger than 10 acres, which allows them to have wildlife and domestic animals.
It was great meeting up again, and we spent Friday evening in the company of orange-flavored Jameson whiskey. At first, I was dubious about drinking whiskey in Texas and was expecting some longhorn-inspired bourbon.
Bourbon Myth & Facts
Bourbon is produced in the US and started in Tennessee and Kentucky. However, more states and micro-distilleries have joined the bourbon adventures so that you can find all kinds of variations, flavors, and strengths.
While the color may look similar to whiskey, the process and taste differ. Whiskey is distilled and aged spirit that starts with the grain. Whiskey originates from Ireland and Scotland, although some can be found elsewhere.
To be a bourbon, the process must adhere to several rules to be labeled as a bourbon. Bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn in the United States, aged in new, charred American white oak barrels, and be at least 80 proof.
Wild hogs or feral pigs have invaded more than 40 states in the US since pigs were introduced by the European colonizers that brought these delicious animals to the Caribbean islands and Southern states during their conquests.
Wild hogs breed and roam the land, digging into fields, eating crops, destroying gardens, and displacing other animals. Pigs are a menace and impossible to curtail at this point.
Many ranchers, farms, and ordinary folk enjoy hunting and shooting wild hogs. You might have seen feral pig hunting trips where guys shoot pigs from helicopters. m not 100% certain, but I believe they can be hunted yearly, and no license is required.
Texas has a vast population of wild hogs, and my buddy’s homestead is not immune to these animals.
He organized a hunt on his property to welcome me and set up a few snares. Snares are simple traps that catch animals using feed patches around the trap. Most times, the pig will get snared and stay there until someone checks the trap and then shoot the pig.
The snare that we set up triggered and caught a 60lbs female feral pig during the night, which was caught on the trail camera – and I’m pretty sure I heard the rustling and squealing when I parked the car when I arrived around 9.30 pm.
Unfortunately, the pig we caught strangled itself when attempting to break free from the snare. Not the ideal scenario, but thankfully the night was cold enough, so the meat did not spoil. We do not know when the pig perished. It could’ve happened in the early morning after being trapped for several hours.
We freed the beast and prepared the tripod for the butchering process. A piece of advice, wear old clothes as they will get blood-stained, and you might cut some intestine or gland by mistake, squirting ill-smelling fluids on you, which happened to my buddy when he accidentally slit the gallbladder. Nasty shit!
It was my first time butchering an animal, so excellent experience and gave me a proper Texan welcoming. What better way to spend your first sunny early morning in Texas?
I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I had assumed it would have a foul smell given these pigs’ wild and feral nature. But, it was a reasonably oderless experience, besides my buddy cutting the gallbladder that sprayed some nasty liquid on his clothes. The smell stayed with him for several hours and tainted some meat.
We harvested approach 25lbs of meat. Wild pigs eat a lean diet and will be less fatty than domesticated pigs. We also eliminated several cuts that smelled nasty due to the gallbladder, discarded bones, and excessive silverskin and fat.
Some meat we fried on a pan and ate as finger foods, other cuts were thrown in the slow cooker, and we stored the excellent-sized loins for dinner.
The meat tasted great. It was a little gamey but had an excellent texture and flavor. Such a great experience, harvesting a pig and eating it for dinner. I could get used to it, and I wish wild pigs would make it to New York state to enjoy wild hogs for the knucklehead gatherings.
The conference I was attending was in San Antonio, about four hours south of Dallas. I decided to drive instead of flying to experience and see part of the state. Four hours is nothing, according to the reals Texans.
During the drive south, I experienced Buccees, Slovaceks, Austin, Dai Dui, and Waco and was impressed with the overall cleanliness and the amount of construction work. The landscape is very flat, and many areas have newly developed houses and infrastructure.
- Buccess is the size of a supermarket that serves some awesome pulled pork sandwiches.
- Slovaeks’s is equally impressive, especially the kolaches.
- Dai Due is the home of the hog master Jesse Griffiths
I was delighted that I got the opportunity to visit Meat Church, which is a show I follow on YouTube, and I have been inspired to cook many recipes – and I use BBQ rubs frequently when I prepare meat for my family and friends. I can highly recommend their products.
People are extremely friendly and talkative, and the food served at gas stations is phenomenal. BBQ and smokehouses have fantastic meat, and I could easily see myself having a large outdoor kitchen if we lived in Texas.
The further south you went, the more food changed. For example, food in San Antonio was Tex-Mex inspired and tasted excellent with pulled pork, beans, tortillas, salads, etc. Excellent cuisine.
During the conference, the organizers arranged a proper Texan rodeo experience with an outdoor rancher kitchen grilling meat and then an entire rodeo with a lot of action—a fantastic evening.
Throughout the week in Texas, the temperatures had been in the 80s, which meant sunglasses and t-shirts most days. But, according to the locals, it was the fall with cooler temperatures – still damn hot for the traveling Viking!
Back Cooking in NY
After my trip to Texas, I was happy being back with my family and planning the weekly meal plan.
The weather is much more relaxed in upstate NY, so I introduced the family to soup and chowder season.
Chicken, corn, shrimp, broccoli, ground pork, bacon, spinach, and rice are represented most evenings. Simple soup and chowders are simple; they are incredibly delicious, packed with energy, and help strengthen your immune system during the colder months.
The kids got a few simple roll-ups made from croissant dough (cans), and I picked up a quinoa salad that was “invented” by Jennifer Aniston. It is a simple combination of vegetables with quinoa – nothing extraordinary.
Let’s get cooking, and I hope you are inspired.
|Monday||Jennifer Aniston Salad||Shrimp and corn chowder|
|Tuesday||Breakfast roll-up with egg, cheese, and roast beef||Chicken & Brocolli casserole|
|Wednesday||Grinder sandwich on home-baked bread on the Traeger||Chicken and bacon in creamy corn|
|Thursday||Breakfast roll-up with egg, cheese, and roast beef||Zuppa Tuscana|
|Friday||Caesar salad with grilled chicken||Outdoor cooking; grill or fireplace|
One day, I might get so organized that I will link the meals below to my recipes. We can only live in hope!
Have a fantastic week, my friends. I hope you enjoy these meal plans. It is much easier to make food in advance, although you must invest several hours preparing meals during the weekend.
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