Burgoo is a term used for many types of stew or porridge made
from a mixture of ingredients. Burgoo is a spicy stew
that has its roots in the Irish or mulligan stew. Traditionally, the
idea was to make a stew using whatever meats and vegetables were
available and in good supply.
That meant venison, squirrel,
opossum (though not in modern recipes) or game birds; essentially whatever the
hunt brought back. The local Kentucky barbecue restaurants use specific
meats—usually pork, chicken or mutton—in their recipes which creates (along with
spice choices) a distinct flavor unique to each restaurant.
Cornbread or corn
muffins are served on the side.
Currently burgoo serves mainly as a tool for social gathering among Kentuckians
and their friends. Typically each person brings one or more ingredients and all
the ingredients will be cooked in a big pot.
No standardized recipe exists, but it is a combination of at least three things.
Today, the meat is usually pork or mutton, often hickory-smoked, but not limited
to these more popular meats. A combination of beef, pork, chicken and mutton are
frequently used, both hickory-smoked and non-smoked. Vegetables such as lima beans, corn, okra and potatoes have
always been popular. A thickening agent of cornmeal, ground beans, whole wheat
or potato starch is all that most cookbook recipes use today, but it is
traditional to add soup bones for taste and thickening.
The ingredients are combined in order of cooking time required, with meat
usually going in first, vegetables second, and if necessary, thickening agents
last. A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it. Cinnamon,
nutmeg, and other savory spices can be added. Some
varieties use cider vinegar, hot sauce,
worcestershire sauce or dry chili
powder. These condiments are often made available for people to spice up their
own bowl as well.
There are many different recipes for burgoo, with considerable disagreement over
ingredients and method of preparation. Many regional
versions of this stew are thick enough to stand your
spoon in. The recipe below was developed to be a
lighter first course soup.
Burgoo Recipe Ingredients
- 1 pound mixed cooked meats (beef,
lamb, pork, chicken, game, etc.)
- 1/2 gallon chicken stock
- 1/2 gallon beef stock
- 1 ounce Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup tomatoes, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 small green bell pepper, diced
- 1 large potato, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 1/4 cup peas
- 1/2 cup okra
- 1/4 cup lima beans
- 1/2 cup yellow corn
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- salt and pepper to taste
Recipe Cooking and Preparation
Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce
heat and simmer for 2 hours, skimming the top as needed.