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Billy the Kid Plays Croquet

Billy the Kid ‘s back in the headlines! A photograph bought from a box in a junk shop in Fresno, Calif. for just a few bucks turned out to be an authenticated image of The Kid. He was playing croquet after a summer wedding in 1878 in with some of the outlaws in his Regulator gang. The rare find has been appraised, and insured, for $5 million.

The photograph, a-4-by-5-in730578_US_NEWS_BILLYTHEKID_LAch tintype is a true treasure of Americana, as it’s only the second picture we have of the iconic outlaw The first photo, taken in 1880 in Fort Sumner, N.M., sold for $2.8 million. A documentary about the journey to authenticate the photograph is the subject of a new National Geographic Channel documentary, narrated by Kevin Costner.

The chapter in The Maverick Cookbook about Billy the Kid was one of my favorite to write. Over the years, I have heard many legends and tales about the Kid in New Mexico—that he washed dishes to cover the cost of his meal in a Santa Fe hotel restaurant; that he was briefly jailed in the basements of at least three different buildings in downtown Santa Fe; and that Billy, didn’t die at the hands of a sheriff but instead, engineered a thrilling escape to New York State, where he lived out his days.

I wasn’t able to authenticate any of these stories but my research revealed that food played a fateful role in the life of Billy the Kid. The first thing he stole1444674608542 was a pound of butter, and it was hunger that drove him out of hiding and to his death.

I hope you enjoy this chapter, too., as it includes The Kid’s favorite recipes: cowboy biscuits, son-of-a-gun stew and fruit turnovers, which he tucked into his saddlebag when heading out on his horse.