Recipe: {enjoy the view} Kentucky Burgoo - is it soup or is it stew?

If you read my post last week on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, or you follow me on Instagram, you know that I recently made burgoo.

iKentucky burgoo recipe - is it soup or stew? Who cares? It's delicious!

If you've never heard of burgoo, then you've probably never been to a Derby party in Kentucky. It's my understanding that Illinois claims to be home to the first burgoo recipe - and so does Kentucky. It sounds like the sort of thing that came about by throwing together the ingredients one had on hand, but what do I know?
Wherever it originated, burgoo is sort of a cross between a soup and a stew, and is characterized by having at least three different types of meat, as well as beans and vegetables. Some make it more like a soup, with a thin broth, while others make it very thick like a stew. And there are some serious burgoo cook-offs where the recipes are quite secret.

My recipe isn't a secret, and I'm happy to share it with you. It was actually really good - until I added the bourbon. Rookie mistake. I forgot to account for the fact that I was using a single barrel bourbon - and I should've used less. Or I should've added a little at a time. But no, I dumped it all in at once. Please don't do that. Unless you want your burgoo to smell and taste like bourbon with a hint of meat and veggies.

{enjoy the view} Kentucky burgoo
            (printable version)

2 lbs. beef strips, cut into 1" pieces
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
2 lbs. boneless country pork ribs, cut into 1" pieces
1 qt. chicken broth
1 qt. beef broth
2 stalks celery, diced
1 lg. onion, diced
2 c. okra, sliced
2 cans sliced carrots
4 med. potatoes, diced
2 cans butter beans
2 tsp. minced garlic
14 oz. tomato puree
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
cooking oil
1/4-1/3 c. bourbon (optional)

1) Add a little cooking oil to skillet over med-high heat, then add meat a little at a time to sear on each side. Don't add too much at a time or move it around because you want it to get a nice brown sear. Remove and repeat until all meat is browned. Add more oil as needed.

Burgoo typically has at least 3 types of meat in it - I used chicken thighs, pork ribs, and stew beef.

2) After meat is removed from pan, add celery and onion (add a little more oil if needed) and reduce heat to medium. Once onion is translucent, add garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes.

Browning the onions, celery, and garlic in a little cookiing oil.

3) In large stockpot, add chicken and beef broths, tomato puree, meat, and celery/onion/garlic mixture. Stir together, and simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours.

Adding the tomato puree and chicken and beef broths.

4) Add potatoes, okra, beans, carrots, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper (to taste), and simmer for another 2-3 hours.
Now we're cookin'! Added the potatoes, carrots, beans, and okra!

5) Add bourbon, if desired, and simmer another 30-60 minutes.

Final simmer before adding the bourbon!

If you're using a single barrel (or another stronger) bourbon, I recommend using 1/4 c. and start by pouring in half of that. If you're using a bourbon with a lower alcohol content, then you could use more.

You can definitely make this to suit your family. In Kentucky, burgoo usually contains lamb rather than pork - but my family doesn't like lamb, so I substituted pork. You can also add/remove veggies. I left out corn because Buddy doesn't like it. Gus doesn't like okra, but it's easy enough for him to pick that out, so he was outvoted. You can use different (or more types) of beans. You can leave out the tomato puree if you'd rather have a stock-base or if you really love tomatoes, you can add stewed tomatoes to the mix. You can also add more or less liquid or increase/decrease cooking time to make the burgoo thinner or thicker. We like it to be more like a stew, so I cook it longer.

Kentucky burgoo - it's delicious!

You can also make this in the crockpot, you would only need to adjust your cooking times accordingly.

A couple of other notes: I used canned carrots because I don't like the consistency/taste of fresh carrots when cooked in soups. I also used canned butter beans because I'm not good with dried beans and can never seem to get them to cook down to the right consistency despite any amount of pre-soaking. So, of course, you can use fresh if you like - or in the interest of saving time, if you want to use canned potatoes and okra instead of fresh like I did, I'm sure you could do that as well.

Have you ever tried burgoo?
Are you going to give it a try now?

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