When people hear the name Nolan Ryan, they usually think of Major League Baseball’s all-time strike-out king, but over the years, Ryan has owned banks, authored books, operated several working cattle ranches and started his own branded beef company, Nolan Ryan’s All-Natural Beef. He also was president and CEO of Texas Rangers Baseball.
“It was a two-year project,” Ryan says. “The reason we decided to do this cookbook was the fact that we had a lot of our [beef] customers texting and emailing us, wanting to know how to cook the products and asking if we had recipes. So, we started posting recipes on the website. That got us started thinking about doing a cookbook, one with easy recipes that people could grill inside or outside, and make a whole meal out of it.”
In deciding to write the cookbook, Ryan wanted to find a chef who could communicate the authentic Mexican and Southwestern style of grilled-over-fire beef dishes of South Texas. He enlisted Cristobal Vazquez (Chef Cris), executive chef at the Globe Life Park in Arlington, and they developed the recipes together.
“During the course of the two-year period, we would have samplings where we’d bring in some of the front office staff and have lunch and talk about the different dishes and what the likes and dislikes were,” Ryan said.
The 75-recipe cookbook begins with a brief story of how Ryan fell in love with the cattle business. He was 10 years old and living in his hometown of Alvin, Texas, when he bought a day-old calf from a dairy farmer for $1.50.
When he met Ruth, his high school sweetheart and future wife, Ryan was focused on playing sports and doing well in school. He got back into the cattle business while pitching for the California Angels in 1973 and bought his first piece of ranch property in 1969. For more than four decades, the Ryans have been buying and building ranches. They’ve also been busy building a family. They have three children: Robert Reid, Nolan Reese and Wendy Lynn, and several grandchildren.
The cookbook features a section of classic side dishes, salads and desserts, including Ruth Ryan’s Special Occasion Carrot Cake.
“Ruth’s carrot cake is the best I’ve ever eaten,” Ryan says. “And she does a green bean casserole I like that’s in the cookbook.”
“The purpose of the cookbook, and one I think we accomplished, is there’s a lot of simple recipes in there that don’t take a lot of time and that you can go to your local supermarket and find all the ingredients that you need,” Ryan said. “You’re not driving all over town trying to find something you don’t even know what it is, and you end up with something that doesn’t take very long to prepare, but has a lot of flavor to it. With the lifestyles of people nowadays, I think that’s what they’re looking for. It’s not strictly a grilling cookbook. You can prepare the dishes in the kitchen.
“I’m really proud of it,” Ryan said. “I think the layout turned out well, and the food stylist and photographer did a phenomenal job. I’m just happy with the job everyone did.”
To order a copy, visit nolanryanbeef.com