Tim Love: Rabbit Rattlesnake Sausage and Elk Strip Loin

Courtesy South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Tim Love is known to some as the "cowboy chef." He is actually chef and owner of Lonesome Dove Western Bistro, his flagship restaurant in the Stockyard District of Fort Worth, Texas. He also owns hamburger joint, The Love Shack, and the White Elephant Saloon in Fort Worth. Love serves what he calls urban western cuisine. You'll encounter dishes like rabbit-rattlesnake sausage with spicy manchego rosti, Rocky Mountain elk strip loin, and pork and rabbit green chili on his menu at Lonesome Dove.

Love will be in Miami this weekend for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. He'll be serving a lamb foie gras burger with blueberry jam and watercress at the Burger Bash. At Paula's Down Home Sunday Gospel Brunch, Love will make sure you get a hearty start to the day. He'll whip up a slow braised certified Angus beef short rib with three bean ragu and fresh ricotta cheese, along with chive omelets with roasted chanterelles.

Short Order caught up with Love to talk about urban western cuisine, his love for the Dutch oven, and his dream of reviving chuck wagon cookery.

This way to grilled pickles...

New Times: I know you may not have much time to venture to restaurants when you are here, but what do you look forward to tasting when you're in Miami?

Tim Love: A mojito. I've only been to Miami one time aside from the festival. There's something about just getting a ridiculously expensive pitcher of mojitos by the pool on South Beach...

Your website refers to you as a pioneer of urban Western cuisine. How do you define urban western cuisine?

We take all of the ethnic groups that settled the West, settled Texas--like the Spanish, Native Americans, American settlers, Germans, Chinese railroad workers --we take all of those ethnic groups and the foods that they cooked--the different proteins and vegetables they used--and bring them into to an urban environment.

We serve things like roasted beef tenderloin with a braised cabbage hash, which kind of mixes the food of American settlers with that of German settlers.  We also take inspiration from the Southwest. We try to enhance what all of these ethnic groups did in their cuisines and bring it all into a fine dining environment.

You have many unusual proteins on your menu--things like rattlesnake and kangaroo. Did you grow up eating some of these kinds of wild game?

Well, I didn't grow up eating kangaroo, by any means. When I was growing up, I don't think that was even available.

I did grow up as a hunter and a farmer. I've raised every domestic animal there is since I was a kid--chickens, pigs, lamb, goats. I had a one-acre garden when I was a kid. I wasn't necessarily into food. It was just my chores--I hated it actually.

When I took a job making salads at a restaurant, I realized that I knew more about food than I ever thought I did. When I started developing my own urban western cuisine--it really all stemmed from things that came from my childhood. All of the hunting I did, all of the work for my chores--all of that inspired the kind of cuisine that I make.

What can you tell me about the upcoming Food Network show Best in Smoke? [Love will judge the competition. The show is scheduled for May.]

I can't tell you much about that until they tell me I can, unfortunately. It's a cool show, though. I make a lot of good jokes.

I read in a Food & Wine profile from last summer that you were planning on doing a chuck wagon concept restaurant. Is that still on your horizon?

It's something I'd really like to do. I'd only do it in spring and fall when the weather is nice, but I'd love to just have a big family meal that's all made over an open fire. I'd love to just put a tent out every night with fires going. Hopefully, I'll find the time to launch it.

I think it's something I'll probably do a little later on in my career when I'm able to screw around a little more, instead of focusing on continuously growing my business.

The Dutch oven is the main cooking tool in chuck wagon cookery and I understand that you love using it. Why do you love the Dutch oven so much?

It's the most amazing piece of equipment on the planet. You can do anything in it. You can sear, roast, bake, braise in it. There's pretty much nothing that a Dutch oven can't accomplish, as long as you're good at using it. You can even serve in it.

What are some of your favorite things to grill that folks at home wouldn't necessarily think to grill?

Grilled pickles are some of the best things on the planet. You grill the cucumber first and then you pickle it. You can do that with peaches or anything else you like to pickle. If you grill it first, you totally change the dynamic of it.

Is there any food that can't be improved by time on the grill?

I guess birthday cake probably wouldn't be good on the grill, but just about anything else works.

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