|Pete Garcia making Pan De Campo|
In 2005, the state of Texas designated PAN De CAMPO as the official state bread. The bread known as Cowboy Bread means the Bread of the Camp or camp bread. It was a common staple along the cattle drives and no doubt, frequently made by the camp cooks. I learned the art of making this special bread by Chuckwagon Cooks and good friends, Daniel "Danny" Canales and Pete Garcia at the King Ranch Ranch Hand Breakfast.
Established in 1853 by Richard King, the King Ranch has built her legacy in history. Each year, they throw their fall gathering held on the Saturday just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. Many visitors come from all parts of the world to take in a visit the the ranch and the breakfast is a fun filled day where many King Ranch cowboys are on hand to perform team roping. Others volunteer with many exhibits included horseshoeing, rawhide braiding, Chuck Wagon Cooking, Cowboy poetry, story telling and some authentic country fiddle playing music on stage while Mariachis play music and sing songs of the Spanish culture that influenced the birth of the Republic of Texas.
As my son Austin and I made our first trip to this annual event, Austin just wanted to jump right into the activities around the chuckwagon. Danny was standing over several large 14" inch dutch ovens while Pete was working his special recipe for the Pan De Campo bread. A recipe that has been the pride of the King Ranch for decades.
As Pete reached into the chuck box of the "Cosineros Del Campo Chuck wagon" he removed the needed ingredients as he trained Austin in this southwestern art of Cowboy Culinary cuisine. Since that first day on the chuckwagon, Austin has worked his youthful skills mastering the many staples that fed the American Cowboys and Vaqueros who tamed the western frontier.
5 1/2 cups flour
2 cups Biscuit Mix
3 cups Evaporated Milk
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Crisco Lard or butter flavor Crisco
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. After thoroughly mixing, allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. If using a 14" inch dutch oven, pinch off enough dough to roll out a 12" inch circle that is about 1/4" inch thick. The dough should be 2" inches smaller than the dutch oven being used, such as 8" inch dough for 10" inch Dutch Oven. 10" inch dough for 12" inch Dutch Oven.
Pre heat the dutch oven to approximately 350 (f) degrees with lid on. Remove lid, grease the inside of the dutch oven with some Crisco and add the dough. Using a fork or the end of a pocket knife, dab a few holes across the dough before placing the lid on the dutch oven. Once the lid is resting on the oven, add coals to the top of lid. The coals are about 8-10 on bottom and 18-20 on top. Cook until golden brown between 12 to 15 minutes.
Danny's secret to good Pan De Campo is keeping a watchful eye on the bread checking it after about 5 minutes and flipping it like a pancake to ensure even cooking to a golden brown. He also lifts the whole oven and turns it 180 degrees on the bottom coals to ensure even heating during the cooking process.
This recipe will yield 8 12" inch rolled dough and can be served with honey, jellies and butter on it like a biscuit or for a more sophisticated taste, you can dip in flavored olive oils for a superb and unique taste.
|Danny Canales keeps watchful eye on Pan De Campo|
|Fidencio De Luna helps out cooking at KING RANCH|
Austin Edison standing left helps serve up
Pan De Campo at King Ranch with
Alfonso Ramos standing right.
|King Ranch Pan De Campo|
Did you know the Chuck Wagon is the Official State Vehicle of Texas? The Dutch Oven is also recognized as the states cooking implement.