Made with a variety of meats and vegetables, burgoo is a Kentucky tradition often cooked in large quantities and is frequently found at political events and barbecues.
There is quite a bit of speculation as to the origin of the word burgoo, from a mispronunciation of the word barbecue to a mispronunciation of bird stew or ragout, but the origin remains a mystery. Gus Jaubert, a Frenchman in John Morgan's Kentucky Cavalry, is thought to have created the stew. He purportedly cooked thousands of gallons of burgoo for Colonel Morgan and his raiders.
This Kentucky burgoo is a typical version—a chicken and beef stew with cabbage, potatoes, okra, and lima beans. It's a delicious one-dish meal.
- 1 (3- to 4-pound) chicken (whole)
- 1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper (coarsely ground, plus more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 (12- to 15-ounce) cans whole kernel corn (drained)
- 3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (29-ounce) can tomato puree
- 12 small potatoes
- 2 green peppers (finely chopped)
- 2 cups onion (chopped)
- 1 medium head cabbage (finely chopped)
- 1 pound carrots (sliced)
- 1 1/2 cups butter beans (or lima beans, fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup fresh okra (sliced)
- 2 to 4 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
Gather the ingredients.
In a large pot, add the chicken and beef in the chicken broth, beef broth, and water with coarsely ground pepper and cayenne pepper. Simmer until the chicken and meat are very tender, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the bones and dice and shred chicken and beef. Return to the liquid.
Add the corn, diced tomatoes, tomato puree, potatoes, bell pepper, onions, cabbage, carrots, butter beans, and okra. Season with a little of the salt and pepper and the Worcestershire sauce.
Cook on low for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally from the bottom to keep from scorching. Add water, if necessary, to keep from sticking. Taste and add salt as needed.
Serve hot and enjoy!
How to Store and Freeze
- Refrigerate leftovers in a covered container for up to 3 days.
- Freeze in heavy-duty freezer bags or airtight containers, leaving about 1/2-inch of headspace (at least 1 inch if using wide-mouth glass canning jars) to allow for expansion. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, allow to thaw in the refrigerator first.
What's in Burgoo?
You might as well ask what isn't in this Southern stew. Burgoo typically contains at least two or more kinds of meat, which varies depending on locale. Lamb, beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, squirrel, and venison are frequently cited. The burgoo from Owensboro, Kentucky, famous for its mutton barbecue, is usually made with mutton and chicken. Vegetables might include potatoes, corn, tomatoes, butter beans, peppers, onions, and carrots.
What's the Difference Between Brunswick Stew and Burgoo?
There's little difference between the two dishes, but ingredients will vary depending on the locale. One difference is the mutton or lamb used in many areas of Kentucky. Brunswick stew does not typically contain lamb.