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Kentucky Burgoo


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Kentucky Burgoo
Mrs. Jesse R. Watkins of Trigg County, Kentucky
Grass Roots Cookbook
by Jean Anderson, 1992, Doubleday

Rare and Out of Print Books

Makes about 12 servings

“ ‘This is the best Burgoo in the world,’ says Mrs. Watkins of this classic Kentucky meat-and-vegetable stew. ‘It’s the way it was made by a Mrs. Jordan who owned
the Pete Light Springs Restaurant here in Cadiz a few years back.’ Mrs. Jordan made Burgoo in restaurant quantities, so we’ve quartered her whopping recipe. Burgoo is as traditional to Kentucky as the Mint Julep, and, like the Julep, it is served at Kentucky Derby festivities. Oddly, the originator of the recipe was a French chef named Gus Jaubert, who served Confederate General John Hunt Morgan and his cavalrymen during the War Between the States (as the Civil War
is known south of the Mason-Dixon line). The original recipe, it is said, was made with blackbirds, and Jaubert, his French-accented English further hampered by
a hairlip, pronounced ‘blackbird stew’ in such a way that it came out ‘Burgoo’. Almost every Kentucky cook has her favorite recipe for Burgoo, but all agree that
it should be made with at least two different kinds of meat (some cooks use four), and should contain ‘as many vegetables as you can lay your hands on’. A good Burgoo simmers for four or five hours, and chefs preparing it in thousand-gallon quantities for Derby Day have been known to cook it as long as twenty hours.
‘It should be thick,’ Burgoo specialists insist, ‘yet still thin enough to eat with
a spoon.’ “

1 chicken breast
1 chicken thigh
1 chicken liver
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
6 cups cold water
1/2 pound dried great northern beans, washed and sorted and
soaked overnight in 2 cups cold water
1 quart [4 cups] canned tomatoes (preferably home-canned)
2 cups finely chopped onions
1 quart [4 cups] canned whole-kernel corn (preferably home-canned)
1 quart [4 cups] canned green peas (preferably home-canned)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (about)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about)
1/4 cup butter or margarine

1. Place the chicken breast, thigh, liver, the pork and the 6 cups cold water
in a large heavy kettle (1 4-gallon size is about right), bring to a simmer,
cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove chicken pieces and reserve. Re-
cover and continue simmering the pork about 1 1/2 hours longer or until
very tender. Skin and bone the chicken and put through a meat grinder
fitted with a coarse blade. Grind the pork when tender.
2. Return chicken and pork to stock in kettle, add the beans and their
soaking water, the tomatoes (do not drain), the onions, the corn and green peas (both well drained). Cover and simmer very slowly for 1 hour.
3. Uncover the kettle, add the salt, pepper and butter, and continue simmering for 3 1/2 to 4 hours, stirring now and then, until flavors are
well balanced and consistency is quite thick. Taste for salt and pepper
and add more, if needed. Ladle into soup bowls and serve with hot
biscuits or soda crackers.

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