Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Goodbye Cowboy

Happy Trails
The times are changing. The Cowboy is gone. It is riding off into the sunset, slowly vanishing into the mirage on the horizon.
(Cue the High Plains Drifter music now)
There are a few out there who will refuse to let the dish die. I myself admit that, the urge to prepare and turn out this Shorty’s classic might poke at me in the future but, for now it needs to be put down.
I doubt many will understand why I have grown to despise making this dish. From prepping the prairie sticks to frying the eggs and squeezing the lime on before it goes to the table-I loath it. It has become my monster.
I created this creature back at the original Sunflower with collaboration from our first cook Phil. Phil envisioned himself a cowboy of sorts and came up with the name before I fine tuned his special into what it is now. His original idea was simply a spicy version of huevos rancheros, a traditional southwestern egg and tortilla recipe. Phil was good at brainstorming and giving dishes funny names.
The signature prairie stick topping highlights this dish. That was my contribution. In my fine dining, executive chef days I always liked to accent dishes with brightly colored, intensely flavored ingredients that introduced a different texture to the dish. The finely jullienned sweet potato idea came from a photo in Food & Wine. They were talking about America’s top chefs at the time. I believe they were discussing Emeril back when he was Executive Chef at Commander‘s Palace in New Orleans. This is before he “jumped the shark”. He wasn’t making an egg dish. I think there were shrimp involved in his recipe. It was the visual that inspired me.
The term Prairie Sticks was also coined by Phil. Think about it. Those crispy, orange, cayenne sprinkled yummies look like they could be rolling around the western landscape waiting for a starving pepperphile to gobble them up.
It is a wonderful, unique breakfast treat. It symbolized what I was trying to do with the average breakfast dish at the time. It is too much for the everyday. Its time has come, and gone. Who was that masked man?
There are ingredients that go into food that are not written in any recipe book. You can’t measure them. You can’t describe them. You can’t buy them in stores. They are handed down or they come from the heart. Nothing like that goes into the Cowboy anymore.
Adios amigo, your time has passed.

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