This last item, the "marrow gut", was a key ingredient. Davidson quotes Ramon Adam's 1952 Come An' Get It: The Story of the Old Cowboy Cook, which reports that this is a tube, between two of the calf's stomachs, filled with a substance resembling marrow, deemed edible only while the calf is young and still feeding on milk. This marrow-like substance was included in the stew and, according to Adams, was "what gave the stew such a delicious flavor." Davidson says this "marrow gut" probably was the passage leading to the abomasum as well as the abomasum itself (said to have a "distinctive flavour of rennin-curdled milk").
The stew also contained seasonings and sometimes onion.
Frank X. Tolbert's 1962 history of chili con carne, A Bowl of Red, discusses sonofabitch stew as well. Tolbert suggests that the chuck wagon cooks borrowed the idea for the stew from the cooking of the Plains Indians. He also specifies a recipe that never includes onions, tomatoes, or potatoes.
Always Serve Your Hippo Stewed in Vinegar ; from Afrikaans Baked Ox-Head to Washing-Up Rituals, Alan Davidson's Compendium of Food Is a Feast in Itself. Christopher Hirst Uncovers the Author's Predilection for the Humble Spam Fritter
Nov 26, 1999; Feeling peckish? If you happen to be tucking into a moose, it's worth bearing in mind that, according to the Inuit, "the finest...