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THE COWBOY DINNER PARTY

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There’s no place like home on the range, but city slickers don’t have to own a spread west of the Pecos to partake of prairie chic. Your frontier may be no bigger than your own front yard, but you can still live the myth. And eat it, too. To kick off the holiday season, we corralled a few rowdy friends, all Lone Star natives, for a down-home celebration that proves the Wild West is alive and well and living in the city.

THE MENU

Matt developed his cowboy menu by shopping the wilds of Texas. The tenderloin of venison, seasoned and pan-seared, comes from a tender West Texas mule deer; the venison sausage is made from tougher Hill Country white-tailed deer and so is the venison fajita meat. The Grilled Shrimp Martinez is an original family recipe from Matt’s father’s restaurant in Austin. The turkey in the spicy red-chili mole comes from the Pedernales River area. Only the rabbit in the stew was farm-raised. For the turkey mole recipe, see page 73. For Matt’s venison sausage in goat queso recipe, see page 82.

Pan-seared venison tenderloin Turkey mole Venison sausage in goat ueso Stewed rabbit Venison fajitas Borracho beans, black beans, refried beans Grilled quail with wild rice Mexican rice Grilled Shrimp Martinez Corn, peppers and squash Salsa and pico de gallo Garnishes: epazote and sage, Western weeds

Beverages: As a general rule, fruity red or white wines go best with smoky or hot foods, but it’s a frontier axiom that rules are made to be broken. With Matt’s menu we served a 1989 Chardonnay from Homestead Vineyards and Winery in Ivanhoe, Texas, a 1988 Cabernet Franc from Pheasant Ridge and a 1989 Slaughter Leftwich Chardonnay, all recommended by Lee Grailey of Grailey’s Fine Wines. Wine expert Diane Teitelbaum recommended Llano Estacado’s 1988 Cabernet and a 1989 Chardonnay from Hill Country Cellars. Beers of choice were Shiner and Lone Star; our bottled water, Artesia.

THE Dinner

Everything is served family-style, passed around the table on big stoneware or tin platters or in Mexican bean pots. Of course, the plates don’t match. The centerpiece is a pile of acid-green horseapples punctuated with yellow sunflowers and candles stuck in a pair of antlers.

Lots of folks gather around the fireplace, like Dan Ford, the only real cowboy of the bunch. As Dan says, “I was born and raised on a ranch 45 miles west of Amarillo. A lot of cowboys get kind of irritated at city boys dressing up like them, but I look on it as a compliment. They’re trying to get a little piece of the Old West back.”

Rick Duren captured the feel of the West by decorating the party with natural wildflowers. “A lot of my ideas came from growing up in the country in East Texas and playing on the creek banks and in the fields. I’ve seen what things look like in their season and how things change. I’ve always had a fascination with the way things are presented in the wild, and 1 try to achieve the same kind of look using Texas natives like maize, horseapples, broom and sunflowers.”

THE DECOR

Creating a Western wonderland was easy. Even though Dallas sits on the dividing line between the piney woods and the wide-open prairie, we’re definitely more West than East, which means we didn’t have any problem finding furniture and accessories to fit our theme. We started by raiding Ted and Bonnie Swinney’s store, Anteks. “These are the kind of things our grandparents lived with and they hearken back to a simpler time. The furniture is big and sturdy and easy to live with; it’s not fragile. It makes people feel good. This is the stuff Texas was made with,” says Ted.

Leon Morrison’s keen eye also came in handy. As did his store, The Tie-Coon Trading Company. “I was working at Neiman Marcus when Ralph Lauren started his Chaps line; I helped develop Neiman’s collection of hand-tooled belts, chambray and old plaid shirts. Then I bought props for The Polo Shop. By the time I opened Tie-Coon in 1986,1 had a whole collection of vintage Western designs. I used it to give atmosphere to the store, and everyone wanted to buy the props. That’s when I realized its commercial value.”

Dian Malouf brought along her new book, The Cattle Kings of Texas, as a little Western inspiration. We put it on the coffee table, and her stories began. “After my family was gone I still wanted to go home to Hebronville in South Texas. So I went home with a camera and started taking pictures and listening to stories. I was afraid if I didn’t write them down they would never be told. Alice Clayberg East, the grand’ daughter of Captain King of the King Ranch, has never been interviewed by anyone. She lives on a 350,000-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere and lives like life stopped in the ’30s. These people are not interested in glitz and fashion-they’re very basic, honest people. The West is truly the heart of the country.”

THE RECIPES

TURKEY MOLE

1 wild turkey

1 medium bell pepper

1 white onion

2 stalks of celery

2 tbs salt

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 14 oz. cans of whole tomatoes

1 1/4 cups cornstarch

1/4 cup cumin

1/4 cup chili powder

1 tbs black pepper

3 tbs brown sugar

2 tsp peanut butter (never use more than

2 tsp; it’s to smooth out the sauce, not to add flavor)

1 tsp crushed oregano (optional)

4 quarts of water

Steam the turkey in the water with the halved onion, the celery stalks, the garlic, the salt and the bell pepper, halved. Cook, covered, at a simmer until the turkey falls apart.

Add water as necessary but not too much. Strain the broth; there should be about 3 quarts of broth left over. Chill the broth till the fat rises. Skim off the fat and discard.

To make the mole, mix together 1 1/4 cups cornstarch, the black pepper and brown sugar. Add 1 cup water to make a loose paste. Add this to hot broth and stir till it thickens. Crush the tomatoes and add to the broth. Start adding cumin by the tablespoonful till the taste is noticeable, but not overpowering. Add the chili powder in the same manner. Then stir in the peanut butter. Shred the turkey meat; put the white meat on one side and the dark meat on the other side of a deep pan. Cover with the mole sauce. (Use as much sauce as you wish; it is also good over enchiladas stuffed with cheese and onions.) Serve with beans, rice, guacamole and flour tortillas. Serves 6 hunters or 8-10 regular folks.

VENISON SAUSAGE IN GOAT QUESO

1/2 Ib. smoked venison sausage, or your favorite sausage, sliced or chopped

1 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped celery

14 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes tsp cumin 1 tsp sa

1 tsp black pepper

1 tbs corastarch

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 oz. Mexican goat cheese or your favorite cheese

Heat the oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add cornstarch and stir. Add sausage. When the sausage starts to brown, add everything else except the cheese and tomatoes. Saute till the vegetables are translucent. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and break them up with a spoon. To add a bit of spiciness, cut a serrano or jalapeno pepper in half and saute for a few minutes with the tomatoes. Then remove the pepper.

Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese over the top of the sauce. Let sit for a minute, then serve. This is good over eggs or noodles, or with flour tortillas and salsa.

RESOURCE INFORMATION

As seen on page 68:

Bench, lasso, antlers from American Images (by appointment only, call 526-6612). Tramp art shelf and cowboy print from The Tie-Coon Trading Company (6148 Luther Lane). Horse picture, serape rug, antlers and twig table from Beyond Time (by appointment only, call 214-937-6612). Centerpiece and other greenery, Turtle Creek Florist (4106 Oak Lawn). Antler chandelier, dining table, chairs and all other furnishings from Anteks (5812 W. Lovers Lane).

As seen on page 69:

Hand-painted plate, antique platter, table linens, napkin ring and serape from Anteks. Carving set from

American Images. Antique flatware from The Tie-Coon Trading Company and American Images. Salt and pepper shakers from The Tie-Coon Trading Company. Flatware from Crate & Barrel {220 NorthPark Center). Vaqueros stemware from The Plate and Platter (4401 Lovers Lane).

As seen on page 71:

Top photo: Horseshoe table, tin cowboy coffee set and mugs from The Tie-Coon Trading Company. Picture-shade lamp, rope tray and cowhide rug from American Images. Twig frame picture, bookends and wood basket from Anteks. Vintage western books from David Grossblatt, bookseller. Bottom photo: Wagon wheel chair, twig table and blanket from Anteks. Horse clock from The Tie-Coon Trading Company. Coffee caddy from American Images. Basket from Beyond Time. Saddle courtesy of Dan Ford.

As seen on page 73:

Iron lamp, blankets and pillows from Anteks.

Sources for Western fashion: Two Moons Trading Company 3411 Rosedale Ave.

Mesa Collections

By appointment only, call 428-1119

Loco

6805 Snider Plaza

Jo Kelly

439 NorthPark Center

Primrose

8411 Preston Rd.

Rancho Loco

830 Exposition

Sources for vintage Western clothing and furnishings:

Cattle Barns Fleamarket (every weekend in Fort Worth) 3401 W. Lancaster Ave.

Antique World

9101 John Carpenter Frwy.

The Antique Sampler Mall

6500 Cedar Springs at Love Field

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