Being a rock hound I love poking around the scrap heaps of old mines and I enjoy hearing tales about the old time mining adventures. Some are funny, some are sad and some are just plain downright interesting, like the esteemed position the company cook held, how he cooked and the recipes he came up with. They ate a lot of stews mostly because stews go a long way when it comes to feeding a crowd. They are filling and they are nutritious and most of the time you can cook it all in one pot. It wasn’t exactly gourmet but it sure was tasty after a long hard day’s work.
THE Mining Company COOK and a recipe for GOLD MINER’S STEW
Mining, back in the “good old days” was a rough and tough business and dangerous. It still is in many ways but today there are a lot more safety laws and regulations to protect the men who work the mines.
Miners could be a rowdy bunch and the mining camp was often the scene of bragging and brawls that sometimes got out of hand but there was one person you didn’t mess with and that was the cook. He kept you fed and kept you healthy and he usually had a jug or two of corn liquor or hard cider in the cook’s wagon that helped ease all those aches and pains that come from a hard day’s mining or a rowdy brawl with one or two of the other boys.
It wasn’t exactly gourmet dining but the food was hearty and you could trust the cook to come up with a mighty good meal after a long hard day’s work in the mine or sluicing for gold along some mountain stream. Each camp had their own favorite recipes and most of them were in the form of stews and boiled potatoes and meat with biscuits or cornbread.
I found this recipe in a magazine years ago, I almost want to say Grit magazine but I am not absolutely sure now, with an article on the lives of the old mining communities. It is a wonderfully good stew. The original recipe called for quail or rabbit meat but has been adjust to modern cooking using chicken or no meat at all if you prefer a vegetarian stew. Originally it was cooked over an open campfire and fed several hungry miners. This recipe easily feeds 8-12 people. Here is how to make it.
GOLD MINER’S STEW
Preheat oven 375 degrees
Peel and cut up in bit size chunks
6 medium size potatoes
Toss together in
1/4 cup olive oil mixed with
2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Spread out on a baking sheet and roast at 375 degrees
until just starting to get tender and lightly brown
(Or you can roast these on your grill or over your campfire which is what the miners did and it works wonderfully well.)
Published in: Cooking