Cowboy cooking is good source of hearty meals


POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Today's food report—featured on this page and the next—centers on A Taste of the Hawaiian Range, held at the Hilton Waikoloa Resort on the Big Island's Kohala Coast Oct. 3.

The annual event is a celebration of Big Island beefiness—porkiness and lambiness, too. The idea is to bring to the fore all the bounty of the island's ranches and farms by shining the spotlight on agricultural products from coffee to tea.

At the center of it all, though, is the meat, especially that from the growing industry in grass-fed, range-free cattle, pigs, sheep, even goats. For the reasonable ticket price of $35, hundreds of patrons, many of whom return year after year, get to sample what chefs can do with these products. Not just the prime cuts, but also the assorted parts such as hearts, mountain oysters and tongues.

This year's event included a Ranch Round-up Cookoff, a competition among ranchers, the idea being that roping cattle, riding the range, seeing to the herd—all of that generates hunger, which makes a cowboy cook a pretty good source of hearty meals.

The cooks were put in a ballroom setting to work with grass-fed beef from their ranches and create a dish for a panel of judges. The winner, JR Ranch, made a version of the Portuguese dish Vinha D'Alhos. I'm also including the oxtail stew from Palani Ranch, another competitor, because it sounds delicious.


JR Ranch Portuguese Roast

(Vinha D'Alhos)
3-pound boneless chuck roast (grass-fed if possible)

» Marinade:
1 cup cider vinegar
3 cups water
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Hawaiian salt
1/2 teaspoon minced chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 bay leaves
6 peppercorns
6 whole cloves

Combine marinade ingredients. Pour over beef and marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place beef in roasting pan and roast to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Let rest five minutes before slicing. Serves 6.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving: 270 calories, 9 g total fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, greater than 700 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, no fiber or sugar, 43 g protein.


Palani Ranch Oxtail Stew

2 oxtails, about 5 pounds
3 medium onions, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, chopped, or more to taste
1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground thyme
6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Carrots, celery, tomatoes and pearl onions, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine ingredients in Dutch oven. Place in oven, covered 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Add vegetables, if desired. Cook 45 minutes longer. If more liquid is needed, add a little chicken broth.

Chill overnight, skim fat and reheat. Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis, per serving (without optional vegetables or chicken broth): 100 calories, 42 g total fat, 18 g saturated fat, 340 mg cholesterol, greater than 1,200 mg sodium, 36 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 22 g sugar, 100 g protein.