Cowboy Cooking

Roasted Corn was a real treat for the cow punchers working the trail drives of the late 1800’s. Dried corn and corn meal often readily available could easily be purchased before the start of the drives supplying the Chuck wagon. Dried corn would last and could be made into cornmeal. However, when the cook could stock some corn ears for the drive, he did because this was a great side dish to go with the many stews and cowboy beans which were fed nearly every day.

Since most trail drives began at the end of the Texas Winters, the corn season was not yet able to be harvested. So it would come late into spring and early summer that corn ears may be available in either a general store that the cook might gather additional supplies or came across with a near by farm where a steer might be traded off for some replenishing of desired supplies.
The chuck wagons would outfit the supplies to carry the expected distance. However, the occasion sometimes did allow for the treat and cooking corn on the cob can be done in several different means. Although I sincerely believe for achieving the best flavor, it can only be done by roasting the corn.

First, taking the corn ears, you want to peel back the husk as one might peel a banana. Do not remove the husk as we will keep the husk on the corn and use it in our cooking. Peel it back to the lower end exposing the cob yet allowing the husk to remain on the stem.

Next, clean the corn with a quick wash of fresh water and remove all the silk. Cleaning also removes any field bugs. Once cleaned, dry off any excess of water with a dry towel from the kernels.

Take a plate that you can place the following spices in to mix.

1  Table Spoon Paprika
2  Table Spoon Lemon Pepper
1  Table Spoon Sea Salt
1  Tea Spoon    Black Pepper

Mix the spices together and leave on the plate. You will need one stick Butter.

Cover the kernels of the corn cob completely with butter. Then place the hand you rubbed the butter over the corn into the spice dish. It will stick to your hand. Once more now rub the corn again, this time spicing the corn. Ensure to cover completely around the expose corn kernels.

Upon spicing, take the husk and lay back over the corn covering the cob. The husk left will assist in keeping moisture in while insulating the corn preventing burns from cooking.  Modern day cooking, you can also add an aluminum Foil wrap over the shuck, though this was not available during the trail drives. The chuck wagon cook just tied the ends together twisting the husk. Unless I’m doing authentic cooking, I add the aluminum foil as an extra protective measure and insulator.

I then place on the grill indirect of the coals or next to the coals if using a ground pit. The temperature will be from 250 degrees to 350 degrees. Make sure the corn is not above any flame as this will over cook and burn the corn. However, over smothering coals, the shuck prevents burning and works like a steamer holding in all the moisture and flavors. Cook for 45 minutes and roll over every 10 – to – 15 minutes. When complete, take one ear, open and expose just the end kernels. Cut off a few and taste to ensure fully cooked. If the temperature is 250 degrees, you may need to cook for one full hour. 

Since the husk works as a built in insulator holding moisture, it also locks in flavor. This is so much more tastier than boiling corn on the cob and allows the juices of the corn to be natural and sweet with the tang of lemon pepper. The paprika combine with the salt and pepper will balance the flavor that will make you the Corn Cook King of the neighborhood that folks will remember and talk about for decades. As my grandpa would say…Inget bättre än goda vänner och god mat. Nothing beats good friends and great food….
return to recipes:
return to Chuck Wagons 

Chuck Wagon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *