Leonard "Wagon Cook" Sanders posted this photo of his 400-pound smoker on Camp-Cook.com Saturday. It reminded me of an article that I wrote for Suite101.com in 2001.
Sanders is the chef/owner of the Chuckwagon BBQ Company in Oroville, California.
Click to read part 1 of the story.
The camp kitchen
Sanders is a master of his decade-old trade and camp kitchen, which includes a 300-pound Bushrods smoker (that's pounds of meat, not steel) that's full of pork butt with a spicy barbecue rub. A few feet away, stands a line of 12- and 14-inch Dutch ovens with cornbread and scalloped potatoes. And hanging from a 14-foot set of irons is no. 8 Lodge Dutch ovens with sweet rice pudding.
Sanders' signature dish for the evening -- pinto beans with ham hocks -- hang over red-hot coals in two no. 10 Lodge Dutch ovens (the kind with rounded lids and flat bottom). The beans were the hit of the evening, because in Sanders' words, "People just don't take time to cook them anymore."
They've the "best beans we ever made," says Sanders. At the last minute he dumped leftover breakfast sausage, ham and bacon into the beans.
But be warned Sanders' beans don't favor those with tender noses. He's aptly named them Gossiping Beans, so-called, "'Cuz the beans are pleasant to your face, but then they talk behind your back."
Sanders became a cowboy in the early 1990s to fulfill a life-long dream. By the time the new millennium dawned, he said, "I don't want to be a cowboy any more." He had worked "until I got it out of my system."
A cowboy does more than punch cows, Sanders learned along the trail. As his decade-long quest subsided, he says that he farmed hay, irrigated fields, mended fences and repaired ranch machinery. And he cooked over the open fire at roundup time.
So you might say that being a camp cook is the realization of Sanders' cowboy dream. After all, old cowboys don't die. They become camp cooks.
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