Homer Robertson is a deputy chief for the Fort Worth Fire Department. But in his spare time, he sets up his wagon to cater events from brandings to weddings to fundraisers. “The wagon is really my passion. It’s an opportunity for me to get out and hang out with the kind of people I like.”
When you pull that lid down, all my stuff is in there. It’s the focal point of the whole wagon and no chuckbox is the same. Anything I need should be right there. I use the lid as my work surface. It’s got some galvanized metal, so I can wipe it down and keep it clean. I’ve got my sourdough starter in that crock—that’s a quintessential product of the wagon and cooking sourdough is a lost art.
Dutch Oven & Trivets
The Dutch ovens are making a comeback because they’re an awesome, versatile piece of equipment. There are so many factors to Dutch oven cooking: the wind, the dampness of the ground, and the temperature. I like to use trivets to set my Dutch ovens on because there’s a tendency to burn stuff on the bottom. That trivet gives you some space and eliminates the direct contact with the heat. I put about twice as many coals on top as I put on the bottom. I really like a hard wood, either oak or mesquite. Mesquite makes really good coals.
A lot of us wagon cooks like the long, 4-foot pothooks because you don’t have to bend over as much to check your food and you can pick the lids up straight. They’re also really handy for dumping the coals off the lid as opposed to those shorter ones.
There shouldn’t be anything on this wagon that’s not functional. That’s an old Parker Grinder. Out on the trail, they’d get coffee by the case—whole beans—and most of the time it’d be Arbuckle. In every container of Arbuckle, they’d put a peppermint stick. That’s how the cook would get somebody to grind the coffee—by giving them the peppermint.
It’s not a trail thing, but for ranch cooks in this day and time, it’s real handy. My son made that in a high school ag mechanics class. If the weather is bad, you can put it under the fly and still cook. More and more ranches with a wagon and a big fly utilize these.
I keep these on the wagon all the time. A lot of these were handed down to me from my dad, who had a background working in meat processing.
I love those long handles because most of the time I’m cooking in volume. I’m always reaching out across the fire and it makes a big difference.
That day I cooked green chili beef tips, warmed up some tortillas, had a hominy and tomato side dish, and bread pudding.