Photo by Kevin Thomas

J.T. Nangle prefers food the old fashioned way — from cast iron and a hot fire

In the Walnut Shade area north of Branson, Mo., James (J.T.) Nangle lives on 18 mostly wooded acres that he shares with his 6-year-old Weimaraner, Parker, and 31-year-old Quarter horse, Rebel.

Photo by Kevin Thomas

WALNUT SHADE, MO. – Although J.T. has plans to build a cabin to “fit the land,” currently he lives in the quarters of his KB Genesis X-E8123 horse trailer. Rebel has his own separate shed as well as the run of half the property. Parker sleeps with J.T. and rarely leaves his side.

J.T. acquired Rebel more than 20 years ago, and as an avid horseman he enjoys camping and cooking outdoors. He regularly attends the annual National Championship Chuck Wagon Race in Clinton, Ark., where he has exchanged unexaggerated stories and favorite recipes with other outdoor cooking enthusiasts for many years. And as with most things J.T. does, he does them well or not at all. And that includes cooking outdoors on grills, over fires and coals, and fairly exclusively with Dutch ovens.

The 60-year-old J.T. went to Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., earning a degree in accounting and then worked for many years in management in the Branson area, as well as for companies from Texas to Colorado. But J.T. gave up those pursuits several years ago and started doing what he loves most, working with his hands. 

When he is not repairing something or doing all-around maintenance for the property management company in which he is employed, J.T. constantly grooms and improves his acreage, preparing for construction of his future home. J.T. likes to stay busy and when not at work or working his land. He enjoys welding utility and art projects, mostly from scrap metal.

Photo by Kevin Thomas

On a crisp 43-degree, early November day J.T., prepped his ingredients and his fire and commenced to prepare an absolutely delightful meal featuring pork chops sautéed in a fresh mushroom, garlic and red wine reduction. 

The side dishes were a creamed corn casserole, also baked in a Dutch oven, potatoes wrapped in tinfoil with bacon with onion and garlic that were laid directly in the coals of the wood fire, marinated pineapple rings grilled over the open fire pit, and a fresh mixed-berry compote rolled in dough and cooked in butter in a Dutch oven over charcoal and with coals laid on the lid for heat uniformity.

In the midst of coming and going from the trailer and timing the multiple dishes and tending their coals, J.T. told great stories of camping and trail rides and friends around campfires, of chuck wagon races that did not all end well and of trading recipes. 

The marinated pineapple was a new thing on his menu.

“It’s not a wow,” he said tasting the fruit. 

That’s the operating requirement for his expectations for all recipes. The recipe has to have a “wow” factor or it doesn’t stay on his list. 

Photo by Kevin Thomas


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here