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The Pioneer Woman Review: “Pickup Picnic”

This on Pioneer Woman, Ree is whipping up a perfectly portable picnic for her ranch crew. The dishes are all hearty and comforting, and most importantly: packable.

Ranch work is hard, and it sure works up an appetite, so let’s see what Ree has in store to refuel her family.

The Pioneer Woman and Family

Ree (as usual) is starting things off with dessert: super thick, rich Mocha Brownies. Like any brownie recipe, these start with a lot of butter. Four sticks, to be exact. She then adds some sugar, eggs, vanilla and the most crucial ingredient: melted chocolate. Ree isn’t shy when it comes to the melted chocolate. In goes the flour and that’s all she wrote.

Ree’s Kitchenaid Artisan mixer is working hard today, because this is a serious amount of brownie batter. No mocha element goes into the actual brownie base – which looks quite light and fluffy compared to some brownie batters I’ve seen. Ree is saving the mocha touch for the top when she adds a thick layer of rich mocha icing. Yes, please! These brownies look incredibly decadent and almost cake-like.

The mocha icing is a simple powdered sugar frosting recipe, but to the basic ingredients, she adds room temperature coffee to give it the promised mocha flavor. After watching her spread the icing on top, I’m confident that the ratio to brownies to icing is 1:1. Maybe 1:2. It’s a staggering amount of icing, not that her family will be complaining.

We’re also treated with lots of Ranch scenery today, although the weather looks chilly and overcast. Perhaps not the most fun weather to be out doing ranch work, but the ranchers don’t seem to be complaining. They are working hard, rounding up cattle and I’m sure in the process, getting quite hungry. Ree even joins them for a bit, helping to administer shots and meds to the baby calves. I am always learning something new about ranch life. I also want to take a moment and note how adorable Ree is looking today in her country girl red gingham shirt. So cute.

Next up on the menu are Cowboy Bacon Beans that Ree gets started in her trusty Cast Iron dutch oven. First, she fries up some chopped bacon to render the fat. To the bacon, she adds some chopped green bell pepper. In go the beans, and Ree uses dry Pinto beans that she has washed thoroughly. She covers the beans with water and then begins to layer in some more flavor. Garlic, ketchup, mustard, brown sugar, chili powder and plenty of salt and pepper.

After a quick stir, these beans need to simmer for about 3 hours until they’re nice and tender. For some reason, I’m always intimidated by making beans from scratch and have never seemed to be able to find a go-to bean recipe, but these look like a must try. There also seems to be a lot of room for flavor variations which I love.

Along with the rest of this picnic, Ree is whipping up some deviled eggs which are a classic picnic food. Ree’s deviled egg recipe is very similar to what I always do with mine. To her yolks she adds, mayo, mustard, chopped pickles, pickle juice, vinegar, hot sauce, sugar and salt and pepper. The thing about her method that stands out, is her use of a small cookie scoop to fill the whites with the yolk mixture. Cookie scoops are serious kitchen multitaskers. They filled the eggs perfectly and kept everything nice and neat.

For her final dish, which is actually the main course, are her Spicy Roasted Chicken Legs. As usual, she is feeding a huge crowd so she has a pile of 48 chicken legs sitting on her counter. That is a lot of chicken legs. She begins the chicken leg recipe with a spicy butter glaze. In a small pan, she melts butter and then adds lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper for spice.

Methodically, she dunks the chicken legs, one by one, into the glaze and then places them on a baking sheet. Into the oven they go to roast away and get all caramelized and yummy. The legs even get a basting of the spicy butter glaze midway through cooking.

When the chicken is done, Ree packs up all the food in her truck and heads out to the ranch crew. The entire group of ranchers digs into the buffet style picnic that Ree has prepared, and by the looks of it, all of the plates get licked clean. I think they all had their eye on the mile high mocha brownies. I know I did.

Thanks Ree, for this great set of summertime picnic recipes. I’m happy to have a new bean recipe to try and I’m determined not to be afraid of them anymore! And remember to bookmark Food Fanatic for an updated section of Pioneer Woman recipes!