Recipes from the Fort Restaurant

Proprietress Holly Arnold Kinney gives us the inside scoop on The Fort restaurant in Morrison, Colorado, where old-fashioned frontier food gets an infusion of modern flavors and style.

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Fort Guacamole

We make guacamole the way it’s traditionally made in Mexico, where it originated as a way to use overripe avocados. In most Mexican households, neither garlic nor lime juice is part of the mix, but cooks lay slices of fresh lime on top of the dip to prevent it from oxidizing and turning brown. At the Fort, we add lime juice but never, ever use garlic or cumin. Cumin is a big no-no in New Mexican cooking, a regional conceit we follow here.


3  ripe Hass avacados, pitted and peeled

3 whole Serrano chiles, seeded and minced

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 small limes)

1/2 tsp salt

2  large, ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced

1  medium white onion, diced

1/4 cup whole fresh cilantro leaves (no stems), minced


Serves 4-6

Place avocados, chiles, lime juice and salt in a large bowl. Mash avocados with fork or potato masher, leaving small lumps. Gently fold in the tomatoes, onion and cilantro. Taste, and add more lime juice if desired. The guacamole should be spicy, so add more Serrano chiles to your desired taste. Serve with freshly fried corn tortilla chips.


Uncle Dick's Incorrect Steak

My dad named this steak, first focusing on the incorrect part, because while he deemed this meal as glorious as “a first kiss,” it includes egg and cheese, two foodstuffs that should not be eaten with beef if you care about your cholesterol or your diet in general. But where’s the fun in that?

We like to honor historic figures at The Fort who we imagine would like our food. We named this for Uncle Dick Wooten, a mountain man of yore who is perhaps best known for establishing the first toll road in Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail. When you travel south today on Interstate 25 near Raton you still cross over Wooten’s Pass, but the toll is gone.

A steak as decadent as this one perhaps needs a toll!


1 8-12-oz beef sirloin steak, cut 2-inches thick

1  large egg

1/4 cup shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup Red Chile sauce (see below)

Canola oil 

sprinkling of commercial dry rub for beef, such as Char Crust, or salt and freshly ground black pepper


To make the Red Chile Sauce:

6 tbsp Canola oil

4 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup Red Chile Puree (Old El Paso, Stokes, or chili powder combined with flower, water and New Mexican garlic)

1-2 ½  cups chicken broth


Lightly coat the steak with Canola oil and generously season with the dry rub. Cook the steak over high heat on charcoal grill (with mesquite) or a gas grill for 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium rare. While the steak is grilling, cook the egg sunny-side up on a griddle or in an egg pan. When the steak is ready, top it with the cheese, Red Chile Sauce and the egg.

Place the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add flour, and cook, stirring about 2 minutes until the flour turns golden brown. Turn off the heat and add chile puree. Return to the heat and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add 1 cup of broth, whisking the sauce until smooth. Simmer over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, and add enough broth to make a medium-thin sauce.


Shinin' Times At the Fort

HOLLY ARNOLD KINNEY compiled some of her favorite recipes in a new hardcover book, Shinin’ Times at The Fort, which adds recipes and restaurant lore to her father’s original cookbook.

The Fort restaurant at Morrison doesn’t just recreate history – it’s made some history of its own. In 1997, when the heads of the world’s most powerful industrialized nations met in Denver for the G8 Summit, President Bill Clinton invited the world leaders, including Tony Blair and Boris Yeltsin, to dinner at The Fort.

The menu from that night, which included seared buffalo medallions, grilled quail and rattlesnake cakes, is featured in Holly’s Shinin’ Times at The Fort. The cookbook includes restaurant lore as well as recipes. For instance, there’s the time that founder Sam Arnold showed his friend Julia Child how to uncork a champagne bottle with a tomahawk. Later that week, Child appeared on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” where she demonstrated her newfound tomahawk trick.

Shinin’ Times at The Fort is published by Fur Trade Press, in Morrison, Colo., 256 pp. $40. | (303) 863-8803

(This story originally appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Colorado Life Magazine)