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Louis Fowler vs. The Pioneer Woman: The Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich (with Onion Strings)

8:55 AM EST on January 28, 2021

Doing these Pioneer Woman challenges for the past few months, I figured that I was going a bit too far outside of my comfort zone, not only to impress my then-ladyfriend, but, in some ways, to maybe impress Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, as well.

But, now that I’m back at my own shared living-space cooking up these down-home (?) recipes with the mice that scurry around the kitchen, I decided to aim a little lower, this time going for the salt of the Earth grub that she’s famous for: meat, onions and bread, all by and for myself. Yes, I'm taking on the Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich.


Now that should be simple, right? Well, unless you count purchasing all of the (mostly what I consider) unnecessary ingredients, it was. So how did I gently screw it up like I did?

Named after Oklahoma’s famous land-grabbing cowboy (who, judging from the moniker, might have a smoking addiction), this sandwich, as per the name, is his favorite. Made up of mostly halved portions of pan-fried onions and cuts of cube beef done up nicely in my cast-iron skillet, with the exception of the Tabasco, black pepper, lemon pepper and Worcestershire sauce, all added, this part was pretty easy.

The recipe also calls for those long French-style rolls, but the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market up from my house only had circular Kaiser rolls, but I figured the bread really wouldn’t make that much of a difference. But maybe it did because I can’t follow instructions like I really should, one of my late father’s most disliked traits about me.

Still, the only actual trouble I had though came from the also-fried onion strings; I know I’m not very good at battering and coating and such, and with this recipe, I really feel like I proved that to myself.

After cutting the onions into—well, I don’t want to say “strings,” but definitely “thinner than usual cuts of onion”—a semblance of what they were supposed to be, I let them rest in the buttermilk for a lot less than the requested hour, at least until they were somewhat goopy. I then placed them into the same frying pan, this time with the requested canola oil instead of olive oil. You win, readers.

As I sat back with a small bit of pride, after a second I realized that I had forgot to place them in said flour and spices. Gently scooping them out—only a few minor arm burns this time, thank you very much—and harshly battering them, I place them back into the fryer, with little to no success.

But, you know, that’s okay. I like them (very) lightly battered and fried anyway. At least that’s what I told myself reassuringly as I scooped them out and placed them next to the sandwich.

With a full plate of onion-goodness, I sat at the communal table, by myself, and took a bite of the Marlboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich. While it was nothing like the Pioneer Woman probably pictured, I enjoyed it quite a bit; of course, I was eating it alone and possibly tearing up, which automatically gives the forever-married Drummond a win, no matter how many culinary foibles I’ll make.

Pioneer Woman 4, Louis Fowler 0.


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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