Kentucky Burgoo

Kentucky burgoo is a dish served all over Kentucky, and at the Kentucky Derby.  Many festivals and large gatherings make burgoo most of the time because the dish feeds a lot of people.  Living in Cincinnati allows me to travel down to to Mount Vernon to my fishing cabin, and stop at various places along the way to enjoy this dish.  Many small diners all over Kentucky serves the dish on their menus, and each one is prepared differently.  One of the main images I visualize when the word burgoo is mentioned is a lot of friendly people sitting together appreciating the time and effort it took in creating this delicious stew in a large black cauldron. 

I was interested to see what the proper definition of burgoo was, so I looked on the Internet.  According to wikipedia, burgoo is a term used for many types of stew or porridge made from a mixture of ingredients.  There is no standard recipe for burgoo because everyone makes the dish differently.  Burgoo recipes remind me of gumbo or jambalaya recipes because every cook adds something different to the recipes according to taste.  When the stew was made in the earlier days, various game meat was used such as opossums, squirrels, rabbits, deer, pheasants or quails.  Most of the meat was leftover from hunting, and people would bring 1 or more ingredients to be added to the pot.  Whatever vegetables were grown from various peoples gardens was added to the pot.  Some of the various vegetables added were cabbage, corn, lima beans, green beans, onions, okra, celery, potatoes and many more.  Kentucky has an abundance of wildlife running around, and some of the best fresh vegetables I have ever tasted.  Many farmers sell vegetables all over the state which are better than store bought.

My recipe for burgoo is modernized because grocery stores don’t offer rabbit, squirrels, opossums or pheasants at discount prices.  I also prepare the stew in a large crock pot or large pot because I don’t have a large cauldron, or the time to prepare over and open fire.  I love to make burgoo in the fall when the vegetables are plentiful and the weather is cooler.


1 Lb. Boneless Chicken thighs

1 Lb. Chuck beef roast

1 Lb. Country pork spareribs

1 Lg. Onion, diced

4 Tbsp. Worcheshire sauce

2 Tbsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Pepper

3 Garlic cloves, minced

1/2 Q. Beef stock

1/2 Q. Chicken stock

1 Sm. Box of lima beans

1 Sm. Pkg. frozen mixed vegetables

4 Ribs Celery, diced

4 Carrots, diced

1 Green bell pepper, diced

5 Potatoes, diced

1 (16oz.) Can crushed tomatoes.

Cut up chicken thighs and beef roast into large cubes.  Leave the bones in the country ribs because bones add more flavor, and can be picked out easier when finished cooking. 

In a large pot on medium to low heat, combine cut up chicken, beef roast and country pork ribs.  Add onion, garlic, worcheshire sauce, salt, pepper, chicken stock and beef stock.  Cover and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until meat is near tender. 

After 2 hours, add celery, carrots, bell pepper, frozen lima beans and mixed vegetables.  Cook for 30-45 minutes until vegetables are tender.  After 30 minutes, add diced potatoes and can of diced tomatoes.  Cover and let cook 25-30 minutes longer until potatoes are tender and burgoo is thickened.  Usually the potatoes will thicken the stew from the starch they produce.  If you want the stew thicker, combine 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, mix until combined, pour in pot and stir until thick.  Serves 6-8.

Kentucky burgoo is very good served with bread, crackers, croutons or rolls.  Burgoo can also be served alongside a mint julep in order to have a taste of the Kentucky Derby.  Burgoo also freezes well if leftovers.



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