It's every cowboy's dream: eating an entire cow in one sitting. All 800 pounds of it.
This weekend, out at the Bridges Ranch in Wimberly, 400 lucky guests will do their part to make this monumental undertaking a reality at the first ever Vaca Y Vino full cow roast. No, there's no catch. It's going to be as absurdly delightful as it sounds.
Here's what to do if you're following along at home: take a cow, split it down the middle and cook each side non-stop from Saturday to Sunday, for a total of 20-24 hours. Faithful chefs will spend the night under the stars with a Shiner in one hand and a bucket of salumeria — salt water brine — in the other, with which they'll marinate the steer every hour and a half as they flip the beast. Brush on a chimichurri sauce during the final hours, and you have yourself nearly half a ton of meat, ready to eat and cooked medium throughout.
The whole event sounds a lot like the big cattle drive in the sky, the great reward for a cowboy's life well lived. Lou Lambert, the rugged meat-master behind Lambert's BBQ, couldn't agree more: “Us as Texans, there's just something about throwing a big slab of meat on the grill, of barbecue grilling steaks, that draws us together. A big fire, sunset, friends; what else can you ask for?”
Lambert, along with Emmett Fox (of Asti and Fino) and Larry McGuire (of Perla's, Elizabeth Street Café, and the new Fresa's, just to name a few), are putting on the event for the benefit of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, whose goal is to allow customers to purchase food items directly from farmers and ranchers without Uncle Sam getting in the way. Like, if you want to invite 400 people to your farm, fill them up on Argentine wine, and invite Brownout to play rhythmically seductive Latin music, why shouldn't you?
“Us as Texans, there's just something about throwing a big slab of meat on the grill, of barbecue grilling steaks, that draws us together. A big fire, sunset, friends; what else can you ask for?”
Yes, it sounds like the quintessential Texan hoedown (in his research, Lambert discovered that the early Texan governor inaugurations used to include full steer roasts on the capital lawn), except that the event is entirely Argentinean themed (hence the wine). There's something about meat that crosses national boundaries.
“Guys around a fire cooking beef goes way back, and I don't know too many guys that wouldn't love this,” Emmett Fox says.
As a trial run (or just for the sheer fun of it), Fox and his co-chefs roasted a half a steer a few weeks back to get the hang of it. The whole experience unfolded organically.
“When we started to take off the beef and cut it up, everyone naturally came over to watch us do that process. It just seems pretty natural for everyone. I can't explain that; the fire, the smells. Everyone was gearing up for it,” says Fox.
Whether Texan or Argentinean, the participants are in for a treat. All tickets have sold, but this is meant to be simply year one of a long tradition to come.
For all intents and purposes, Vaca Y Vino is the ultimate summit for the nose-to-tail movement, and it sounds glorious. That is, until next year, when someone decides to stick a buffalo on a spit.
Or maybe a small elephant? Let's just stick to what Texas does best.