This interview with Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert was published on the TXBeef.org website in the “Texas Hot Chefs” column.
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‘Texas Hot Chefs’ breaks out of the mold a bit with Bill Cauble and Cliff Teinert. Unlike most featured chefs, neither of these gentlemen presently owns a restaurant. Yet either individually or together they have prepared great meals for one Mexican and two U.S. presidents, one First Lady, one Thai Queen, and an array of ranching aristocracy. That’s an impressive resume that few chefs can hope to match.
Where Cauble and Teinert have an advantage over restaurant chefs is that they’re cowboy cooks. Their primary kitchen is a portable one the chuck wagon and their clientele knows what it wants — great tasting meals centered around beef.
Sometimes, they’re cooking on Texas rangeland; other times they’re far away from Texas like at the presidential retreat of Camp David where in the 1980s Teinert prepared a meal for Mexican President Jose Lopez Portillo, President Ronald Reagan and future President George H.W. Bush. And at least once a year Cauble and Teinert cook for internationally recognized events such as the Chuck Wagon Gathering at the National Cowboy Museum and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma City.
Consumers now can enjoy their unique, delicious style of cooking through their recent collaborative cookbook ‘Barbecue, Biscuits & Beans‘ published by Bright Sky Press of Albany, Texas, and New York, N.Y. To purchase copies, visit the publisher’s web site at www.BrightSkyPress.com or call toll-free 1-866-933-6133.
The cookbook has many surprises including a foreword by actor Tommy Lee Jones and a chapter on great desserts. Yet the essence of this cookbook embodies Cauble’s and Teinert’s lifelong appreciation of cowboying and the hearty food that fuels it. Best of all, the cookbook converts their longtime campfire recipes into great meals that any home cook can prepare.
Both men grew up in families that knew the value of a good, well-balanced meal. Cauble was raised at Albany, Texas, the oldest of four boys. Combining lessons from his mother’s indoor cooking and his father’s outdoor grilling, Cauble became an expert in preparing beef and baking bread in the oven or over coals.
Teinert was born in Copperas Cove and grew up near Giddings. His German forebears came to Texas in 1854, and adapted their native cooking methods to the plentiful beef supplies they found in Texas. That led to big family gatherings to enjoy barbecued beef. And Teinert’s secrets about how to cook perfect beef cuts were handed down to him from his grandfather and father.
Cauble and Teinert met in 1955 when Teinert visited an aunt who had a ranch near Cauble’s home at Albany. But the link that joined them as partners was legendary Albany rancher Watt R. Matthews who died in 1997 just short of his 100th year.
Matthews, a descendant of two legendary ranching Texas families, was manager of his family’s Lambshead Ranch, the most prominent cattle operation in the area. The Lambshead ranching tradition goes back to the 1870s.
Both men also would help Matthews feed the crowds he invited to Lambshead for the Fandangle Sampler, an annual musical tribute to the region’s ranching heritage. They’d also help him put on special parties at the ranch including the reunion of Matthews’ Princeton class of 1921
In 1984, Cauble became the fulltime cook for Lambshead and Teinert ranched in West Texas. But they always drifted back together for the annual Sampler. Today, both of them make their home near Albany, and they continue to collaborate on catering events across the nation.
The colorful cookbook is dedicated to Watt Matthews and features ranch and food photography from Matthews’ nephew, cattleman Watt Casey Jr., also of Albany.
Which is easier? Cooking beef over a fire or cooking it in a kitchen?
Teinert: I don’t know much about cooking meat inside a house. And I don’t use charcoal. My preference is to get a good bone-in cut of beef, place it 2 – to 3 feet away from live coals and then cook it slow. I think you can regulate the heat better that way. For the coals, I’ll use whatever wood is available in the area where I’m working. I’ll use live oak and post oak. But I prefer mesquite for its flavor.
Cauble: I’m a firm believer about cooking outdoors too. But when you’re cooking outside over a fire in July and August, that air-conditioned kitchen can be a lot of fun too. And outdoor gas grills aren’t too bad either. They’ve become a real popular item.
What was the hardest part about converting your campfire recipes to the kitchen?
Cauble: Clifford and I grew up the same way. Our moms baked bread and never used a measuring cup or spoon. And the biscuits came out the same way time after time. So anything that you do a lot of, like we do cooking, is difficult to measure. When we started this cookbook, we had to cook some of the recipes three or four times to get the flavor just like we wanted it by using precise measurements. It was a little bit of a challenge, but we made it work.
Teinert: When you’ve cooked sourdough biscuits as much as we have, you know what a teaspoon is just by feel. We had to put in directions on creating a certain recipe or a certain rub, but we think we got it just right.
What made you decide to write a cookbook?
Teinert: A lot of people have asked us for our recipes. We had so many notes and stories about our recipes that each of us has compiled over the years that we decided it would be a good idea to write them down and put a little story to them.
Cauble: It took a lot of time to do it, but we found that it was real enjoyable too. We had to work a lot of long nights, but we didn’t mind the schedule. Our friends have enjoyed it too, because they tell us how many of the recipes they’ve already used.
Of all the recipes in the cookbook, what do you think is the cowboy�s favorite?
Teinert: If you ask the cowboys, it’s a chicken-fried steak. And we have a good one in the cookbook. But for a celebration, it has to be the rib eye. This is a great-tasting meat and doesn’t take much time to prepare. If you use mesquite coals, and get them good and hot, the mesquite gives rib eye a good flavor. It’s better than any other cut of meat.
Cauble: I agree. You take the whole rib eye and slice it, and it can’t be beat. It’s probably the most popular beef cut that we are asked to prepare. It goes great with just a vegetable, bread and dessert. But the rib eye is the real treat; everything else is just a complement.
Even though you currently dont have a restaurant, you two do occasionally get off the ranch to share your beef creations with others, don’t you?
Cauble: I’ve had a catering business for several years with Clifford.
Teinert: And we’ve looked into the restaurant business several times. It’s something that we may do someday.