How to Make Kentucky burgoo
Most folks from around these parts have, at some point in their lives, eaten Kentucky Burgoo. If you live around here and haven’t ever had Kentucky Burgoo, you must have some. If you don’t live anywhere near Kentucky, I still recommend some Burgoo –
It’s the best soup you will ever eat. It’s meaty, hearty, and warms you up when it’s cold outside.
Of course, when ever I have been served KY Burgoo it’s always been a bit of a mystery to figure out what’s in it.
You can make it with just about anything. Rabbit, squirrel, chicken, pork, beef, venison, road kill. That’s where folks like to have a little fun with the burgoo.
Guess what’s in it?
The burgoo I’ll be making today is made with chicken (gangster rooster) and venison. You can use any meat you want. It can be made with just venison, just chicken, just beef, or just about anything. There is no wrong way to make KY Burgoo. This pot of goodness will feed a group of 30 people. Or fill your freezer.
Planning ahead is a good idea when you are going to make Burgoo. This is a dish that is cooked for hours and hours and hours (think days) in order to develop it’s thick, hearty texture.
One of my husband’s best friends in college had a KY Burgoo party every fall. The Burgoo was cooked in a giant iron kettle over an outdoor fire. For 2 days prior to the party people would take turns babysitting and stirring the Burgoo. Day and night. When I was in college this was considered “fun.” At this point in my life it would be painful.
I don’t have a giant iron kettle. I don’t want to stir soup for 2 days straight. It won’t stop raining long enough for us to have an open fire. And, I’d rather cook my Burgoo in the kitchen.
So, we’re gonna adapt this recipe to folks who sleep at night. For this soup we need a cooked chicken and it’s broth AND a cooked deer leg and it’s broth (a beef roast, pork roast or other meat can be substituted for the venison). It is going to take a couple of days of preparation.
If I tried to cook the chicken, the deer leg, and then turn it into Burgoo all in one day…….. first…… that day would have to be 72 hours long……… and second, I would die.
So, the Burgoo festivities begin approximately 2 days before I want to eat Burgoo, with the cooking of the chicken.
To cook the chicken:
- Put a large chicken into a giant roasting pan with a few veggies ( veggies optional)
- Cover the bird with as much water as the pan can hold without spilling
- salt & pepper the entire thing & cover it tightly
- Bake 340 for 4 hours (or until done)
After cooking the chicken, I have a platter full of dark meat, white meat and about a gallon of broth.
Notice the difference between the dark and white meat? The dark meat is so, so, so, so dark. This was a free-rangin’, but eatin’, no funny stuff, down-home chicken. The white meat is white, and the dark meat is……. really dark. But – it tastes great!
We also need to cook the deer leg. If you do not have a deer leg, you can substitute use any beef roast.
To cook your deer leg (or roast):
- Put deer leg (or beef) in large roasting pan
- Cover with water
- A couple tablespoons of fat (lard, butter, bacon grease)
- Salt and pepper entire surface (meat, water, everything)
- Cover with foil and a tight-fitting lid
- Bake 270 for 8 hours
Now, I have several pounds of cooked venison and another roasting pan full of broth.
At dark-thirty on the day you wish to serve the burgoo, It is time to assemble the ingredients. This part is actually very easy. You have done all the hard work. You have the cooked chicken, venison, and the bone broths made themselves. All that’s left to do now is chop everything up and throw it into a giant pot and simmer it.
First, dice up all the cooked meat. Cut all the chicken and venison into bite sized pieces. Then put the 2+ gallons of broth & diced meat together into one giant pot & get things warming up.
Next, add some veggies: 2 quarts tomatoes, 2 quarts lima beans, 3 onions, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper, 2 bulbs garlic, 3 carrots, 1 large bag of frozen corn, 1 large bag of frozen okra.
Nearly everything in this Burgoo was raised, grown, killed, and processed here on our farm. I love that. The only things I bought from the store were the carrots and okra (and some seasonings). Very organic. Very local. Very healthy.
Chop up your onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and add everything into the pot with the chicken pieces, venison pieces, and broth.
Once you add all the veggies, it’s time for some flavor.
I’m going to add some Real salt, pepper, raw Apple Cider Vinegar, worcestershire and tomato paste.
Now, get it all combined and bring it to a simmer. Let this cook the rest of the day on medium. Stir often so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. If you don’t want to stir it all day, just transfer it into a crock-pot (or 3 crock-pots depending on size) & set on high.
This soup will go through several stages. First, it will be a watery raw vegetable soup. In a few hours, it will be a cooked vegetable soup. Keep on cooking.
Here is what it looks like at the “vegetable soup” stage. It will taste like a beef vegetable soup. It is good, but keep on cooking it and it will get better.
I should mention that it is important not to “taste and season” at this point. This soup is going to cook down. This means the flavors are going to get much deeper, much stronger and much saltier.
If you salt at this point you will be throwing whole potatoes into your pot in 3 hours to try to un-salt it. Let this baby cook until it’s thick and hearty. That’s when you want to taste and season it.
Once the Burgoo hits the “vegetable soup” stage it will take about 4 more hours of simmering on medium (stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick) and it will turn into this:
Thick, rich, hearty. Not liquidy, Not brothy. Just scrumptious Burgoo flowing with delicious chunks of veggies and meat.
For the all-day-cooking-marathon, I use my Vintage Mirro-Matic canner (without the lid, of course).
I love this pot because:
- It’s old
- Mamaw gave it to me
- No matter how many times I get busy doing something else and forget to go stir the soup, it never burns. Ever. It weighs as much as my smallest child, has an enormously thick bottom, and I can’t burn anything in it.
I love this pot.
It is amazing what a day of cooking will do. What started this morning as a simple vegetable-beef (sort of) soup has transformed into thick, heavenly, Kentucky Burgoo. The consistency has gone from a thin, vegetable flavored liquid to a savory, luscious stew bursting with rich, developed flavors. I added nothing to the pot, yet the flavor is radically different from where it started this morning.
Kentucky Burgoo is by far my favorite soup. There’s nothing else like it.
It may take a couple days to make, but it’s worth it!
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