Dave’s Kentucky Burgoo for 20
(This is approximately the recipe I use for the annual
Faith Lutheran Church Derby Day Party here in Lexington, KY, Except that I cook up a batch for 50. If you have questions e-mail me at DLDebertin@aol.com)

Kentucky burgoo is a favorite at the Kentucky horse racing tracks, where it is often served in a foam cup with a plastic spoon on cool racing days.

 It is a spicy stew that has its roots in the Irish or mulligan stew. Traditionally, the idea was to make a
stew using whatever meats and vegetables were available and in good supply. That meant game meats, deer, but also squirrel, possum, meat from game birds or whatever the hunt brought back. The local
Kentucky barbecue places use meats left over from their barbecuing (typically, pork, beef or lamb) as the basisfor burgoos that change depending on what meats happen to be left over. There are many jokes in Kentucky about collecting "road kill" as meat for making burgoo.

Kentucky burgoo recipes are somewhat like chili recipes--there are many different recipes each calling for different set of
ingredients. This burgoo recipe takes advantage of some of these same traditions, except that the meats are whatever happens to be on sale at the local grocery. The recipe takes three days to prepare, one day to boil and de-bone the pork and beef, a second day to prepare the carrots and potatoes and roast the meats, and a third day (serving day) to bring everything together. The long cooking on the third day is a flavor secret.

To serve 20 about 5 lbs of meat is required (uncooked boneless weight). Some possibilities include beef chuck roast, roast sirloin, beef round,
Boston butt pork, or country style pork ribs. If you use Boston butt with a bone in, have the butcher slice in 3/4-inch thick slices. The chuck roast or roast sirloin should also be cut into 3/4 inch strips. Chuck roast tends to be stringier than the sirloin or beef round.   Buy about equal amounts of pork and beef. Chicken is optional. Skinless boneless chicken breast works well.

Day 1:

Simmer and de-bone the meat. In stock pots simmer the pork and the beef each separately for 45 minutes to an hour until the meat is tender enough to come off the bones easily. To the water, addsalt and Italian seasoning. Roast the pork and the beef in separate pans. Be careful to remove all the small bones from the meat after the boiling is complete. Put each meat in a separate low pan for roasting pan. From each boil reserve the stock which you will be using on Day 2. Combine the stocks into a single stock pot. Put the stock in the refrigerator.

Day 2:

Peel and dice 3 lbs. potatoes and a pound of carrots. Cut the carrots in small slices (do not be tempted to use the pre-
cleaned mini-carrots, as they lack flavor) Remove stock from frig and discard the white fat layer that may have formed on the top, Reserve 1/3 of the stock, and put the remaining 2/3 in a large and add the potatoes, carrots, and a little more salt. Add to this 2 small (14.5 oz) cans or one large (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes. Cook potatoes and carrots 20 minutes or so--so that they are still a bit undercooked--not so the potatoes are mealy. Return the potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, and stock to the refrigerator.

Roast the meats. Lay the meats out in separate pans. Add a little of the remaining reserved stock to keep the meats moist. The meats will be roasted, lightly covered with foil for 3 hours or longer at 300 degrees. Watch the meats so they don't dry out and keep adding some of the remaining stock as needed. After an hour and a half of roasting the beef, cover it with a small jar of medium salsa (16 ounces) and a small chopped onion that you have previously browned in canola oil. To the pork, after baking for an hour and a half, cover with a mixture consisting of an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup of commercial hickory smoke barbecue sauce. Continue to roast for another hour and a half.  Lightly browned chicken breast can be covered with a can of crushed tomatoes when roasting.  The already browned chicken will take less time to roast. When the roasting is complete, return the roasted meats to the refrigerator.

Day 3 Final Cooking and Serving:

For this final cooking you have a number of options. The ideal is a Dutch oven style portable roaster, though several crock pots would work. Alternately, a large turkey roaster that you can put in your oven will work. If you are serving at
5 pm you will need at least 3 hours, so combine the ingredients at 2 PM. Combine the potato-carrot tomato mixture along with the meats. To this, add one can whole kernel corn, one can of green beans and bag of frozen Lima beans. The other traditional vegetable is okra, so you can add a bag of frozen okra--less if you aren't sure about okra. To this add a large can of tomato or V8 juice. By  his time your container may be full. You can adjust your recipe y adding additional vegetables or tomato juice. (Don’t use green peas as they fall apart in the long cooking.)

All of these parts get cooked for another 3 hours at 275 to 300 degrees stirring as you go along. Or if you want this can all go in a roaster in the oven) The result is a wonderful stew! Cornbread or corn muffins are served on the side.

Day 4 (What to do with Leftovers…):

Make a cornbread buttermilk biscuit topping by combining
some self- rising flour and corn muffin mix, stirring in just a
little salt and baking powder. The amount you will need depends
on how much leftover burgoo you have. The proportions of flour and
corn muffin mix can vary, but the greater the corn muffin mix
the more cornbread-like your topping will be. The more flour,
the more biscuit-like your topping. Or you can go for something
in the middle. To this mix add a couple of tablespoons of canola
oil and stir together. Then add buttermilk so you get a dough
that is soupy--almost like a thick wallpaper paste.

Put the leftover burgoo in a low glass casserole (the size
depends on how much burgoo you have left over). You will
want a casserole large enough so the burgoo is about an inch
deep. To this glop over the top the topping mixture above. Bake
in the oven at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes--till the crust
turns a light crusty brown. (Cooking times vary depending on the
size of the casserole.) Cut and serve.

Dave’s Kentucky Burgoo for 6 or 8

Not everyone is cooking Burgoo for 20 people. Here is a recipe that provides generous servings for 6, or good-sized servings for 8. Best of all, it just barely fits in a standard 3 1/2 qt Crock pot. And it only takes 2 days to do. You can easily resize the recipe for larger pots and larger numbers of guests.

1 lb boneless chuck steak

1 skinless-boneless chicken breast cut into ¼ inch slices

1 lb  pork ribs or bone-in pork shoulder .

Day 1:

In a large sauce pan, place the beef and pork meat, just covering with water. To the water add a tsp salt and a little Italian seasoning. Simmer under low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove meat and place in a small roasting pan, Remove any bones after this part of the cooking. Lightly brown the chicken pieces in a skillet with a little canola oil before roasting.

Mix together
1/2 jar salsa (you can choose the heat level depending on your family and guests' preference for spicy foods. I ordinarily use the mild but you can up the heat level of the burgoo by using medium, or if you are really daring, hot.          

1/4 cup hickory smoke flavored barbecue sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 small can tomato sauce

1/3 cup chopped onion that has already been skillet-browned in a little canola oil

Pour this mixture over the meat, and roast the meat lightly covered in the oven under low (300 degree) heat for 3-4 hours, adding a bit of the retained stock for additional moisture occasionally and turning every 30 minutes or so. Use aluminum foil to lightly cover (but not seal) the meat during the roasting process. At the end of the roasting process, the meat should be tender and falling apart. Refrigerate roasted meat overnight.

Day 2:
Remove sauce pan with stock from refrigerator, and skim off and discard any hardened fat. Add

4 large carrots (scraped and cut into quarter inch disks) Do NOT cheat by trying to use the mini carrots.
4 medium potatoes peeled and cut into pieces.

Add carrots and potatoes to skimmed stock. Add extra water if necessary. Make sure they are just covered. Simmer the potatoes and carrots until they are just barely cooked. The potatoes should not be mealy, but slightly undercooked.

For a 6 pm supper put the roasted meat, potatoes and carrots into the crock pot about noon. Add the following vegetables to the crock pot:

(Standard size cans)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can standard cut green beans
1 can whole kernel corn

At this point your crock pot may be filled. If not you can add more vegetables.

The "Classic" burgoo vegetable is chopped okra. That is available frozen. Another possibility is

1 can Lima or Butter Beans

Add the chopped okra in the last hour of cooking and it will hold together better.

There is a lot of flexibility on vegetables. However, do not use Peas as they do not hold up in the long cooking. Do not use Asparagus, Broccoli or Cauliflower--this is not that type of recipe.

The burgoo will cook in the crock pot on high all afternoon. Taste occasionally. The tricky part is getting the proper combination of sweet, acid, sour, and saltiness. The brown sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes, tames the hotness of the peppers in the salsa a bit but it also cuts down the apparent saltiness. Be careful with the salt or your guests will be consuming water in large quantities.

Plan to serve at 6 PM. Serve with corn bread muffins. It's actually better the next day. If it gets too thick, you can add a little more water before warming.

A town in Illinois has a Burgoo festival. Instead of a crock pot or roaster, they cook the burgoo in large steel pots over wood fires. They make and sell so much burgoo that just the peeled carrots for the recipe fill an entire livestock watering tank, with equivalent amounts of the other vegetables. People buy this to eat on the festival days, but most is sold in quart containers and taken home to freeze. Interestingly, it freezes well.


Dave's  Simple Kentucky Burgoo recipe

(This is an older recipe of mine designed to fit a 4-quart crock pot)

Kentucky Burgoo is a spicy tomato-based stew. It is a traditional dish served at the race track and particularly on Derby day. There are nearly as many recipes for Kentucky Burgoo as there are Kentuckians. As a transplanted Kentuckian, I have been experimenting with various recipes. According to some of the papers I have read on the Internet the idea behind Kentucky Burgoo is rooted in the idea of an Irish Mulligan Stew. In general the ingredients can vary depending on what kinds of stuff you happen to find in your refrigerator. In addition to beef, pork, chicken and lamb, wild game is often used, including possum, squirrel, venison, and, according to some, road kill. The basic idea here is to use whatever left over cooked meats happen to be in your refrigerator.

Here is a basic recipe.

Peel several medium red potatoes, and cut them into irregular sized pieces

Put these in a large stew pot, covering with water, and adding a little salt. The water the potatoes are cooked in becomes the base for the stew.
Add to this pot several peeled, cut up carrots. and some chopped celery and onion. Parsley leaves work great too. Add a little italian seasoning for additional flavor.

Add any left over roast that you happen to have from Sunday's dinner.
Such as
1/2 lb left over beef roast, cooked enough so it pulls apart
1/2 pound left over pork roast

But you can use whatever other meat you have, separated into pieces maybe ½ inch long. This is not too fussy. The pulled pieces work better than sharply diced pieces. Ideally the roast has been cooked long enough so it it is tender enough to pull apart. If you have left over chicken or game, cut that into pieces or pull it apart and add that too. Let this mixture cook for 35-45 minutes over medium heat.

After the potatoes and carrots have softened
Add the following:

2 12 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 10 oz pkg frozen whole kernel corn
1 10 oz pkg frozen peas
1 10 oz pkg frozen green beans

½ jar Salsa (this comes in various heat levels, from mild (green cover) to very hot (red cover) so pick the one you think you will like the best. (Authentic Burgoo has a fairly high "heat" level.)

½ cup ketchup
1 tbs sugar

Let this whole mess simmer for an hour or so over low heat. If it is not spicy enough, add a little chili powder as it cooks.

This stuff gets better as it ages. You really shouldn't serve it the first night. Instead, refrigerate over night. Take it out of the refrigerator the next evening and simmer it for another hour or two. You can do this over and over. On about the third day the flavors from the meats and the vegetables really start coming together.

You can feed a large tribe of people with this recipe, all the while making jokes about the road kill you collected in order to make your first class Kentucky Burgoo.