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Potato Salad in Cowtown

Potato Salad has been around forever!

When researching recipes for my newest book, END OF THE TRAIL EATS, I was surprised at how many of my family favorites were served in Cowtown over 150 years ago! Familiar dishes such as bread pudding, pickled eggs, whiskey toddies, and potato salad, to name a few.

Cowtown cafe’s, saloons, and hotels served delicious meals as a way to retain the return trade of cattle barons and their drovers. More Texas Longhorns that arrived in Cowtown meant happy railroaders, who had footed the bill for the loading pens and holding yards. Along with the business, the gamblers and good-time girls, thousands of people rushed into Cowtown every season.

“When it is remembered that this was accomplished in so short a time, notwithstanding the fact that every particle of material had to be brought from the East, and that, too, over a slow moving railroad, it will be seen that energy and a determined will were at work.”

Joseph G. McCoy, founder of Abilene, Kansas

Potato Salad Recipe ca. 1882

Just knowing that potato salad has been around for over a century warms my heart. Evidenced by this recipe dated 1882 from the Dodge City Times, and one of many authentic recipes in my book END OF THE TRAIL EATS.

Directions: One quart of hot boiled potatoes cut into slices, a small onion, and an apple finely chopped, pepper and salt to taste, one tablespoonful of vinegar, three tablespoonfuls of olive oil; some chopped parsley. Mix these ingredients well together, and when perfectly cold serve upon a bed of fresh, crisp lettuce with a French Dressing. Yield: 6–8 servings.

French Dressing: This dressing is mentioned numerous times throughout late 1800s in recipes and on menus, usually referring to a variation of a vinaigrette. Several flavorings, such as ketchup, tabasco sauce and Worcestershire sauce were added throughout the century. The recipe posted below seemed to be the most common listed in Cowtown newspapers: In a pint jar put one-fourth of a cup of vinegar and three-fourths of a cup of oil, a half teaspoon of salt, a little cayenne and a half teaspoon of pepper. Put on the rubber and the top of the jar and snap the wire fastening. Shake the jar rapidly up and down for a couple of minutes and a thick, perfectly blending French dressing is the result. Keep this in the jar in the ice box until needed, shaking it just before serving.

Signed copies of END OF THE TRAIL EATS are now available at The Burrowing Owl bookstore, both locations!

In Canyon, Texas: 400 15th Street, Downtown Square in Canyon

In Amarillo, Texas: 7406 SW 34th Street, Suite 2B

You can find great deals on new or used books, or order online. Bookstore Website Here. Please support your local independent bookstore.

End of Trail Eats, Cowboy-Approved Recipes from the Cowtown Café to the Saloon from TwoDot Books. Debra Murphy, Editor.
For more information and Book Buy Links CLICK HERE

Book Reviews

One reviewer posed an issue with recipes appearing in a paragraph form. That is exactly how many recipes appeared in newspapers of the time period. I did not want to take away the authenticity of the dish by removing the unique verbiage and instruction. It is amazing how these basic recipes have been passed down through multiple generations of cooks and have stood the test of time to appear on our own family tables.

“The cool thing is that a lot of the recipes utilize simple ingredients that could have been gathered up quickly and cooked for travelers and ranch hands. Lots of interesting anecdotes and stories about famous and not so famous personalities from the history of the western expansion and the recipes that sustained them. Quite an interesting book!”

5 Stars from Christine; GoodReads Reviewer

“The recipes are good, and there are several I want to try, but the real stars of this book are the photos and the stories of the history of the West. They are engaging, informative, and succinct.”

5 Stars from Read, Sip, Snack; GoodReads Reviewer

“End of the Trails Eats is a combination history and cookbook. I am so impressed by this book that it will be in my cookbook collection.
The things I learned reading this book were fantastic. The photos each told a story on their own.”

Nancy, GoodReads Reviewer

Step into the history and cook the authentic food of Cowtown. Kansas Cowtowns were instrumental in providing transportation to the greatest controlled migration of livestock the country has ever seen.

“As we have before stated, about 35,000 head of cattle arrived at Abilene in 1867. In 1860 we believe that the United States Census gave Texas 3,500,000 head of cattle. We are not sure that this is correct, but believe it is.”

Joseph G. McCoy, Historic Sketches of the Cattle Trade of the West and Southwest

Natalie Cline Bright has written 20 books for adults and kids. She is a blogger at “Prairie Purview” found on the home page of her website, a hobby photographer, and speaker. Her cookbook, KEEP ‘EM FULL AND KEEP ‘EM ROLLIN” about chuck wagons, won a first place gold Will Rogers Medallion. Her newest book is END OF TRAIL EATS about the food and history of Cowtowns.  If you enjoy pictures from the Texas Panhandle, check out her Instagram account @natsgrams or Facebook page Natalie Cline Bright.