Place of origin
Region or state
|Meat (pork, chicken, or mutton)|
Burgoo is a spicy stew, similar to Irish or Mulligan stew, often served with cornbread or corn muffins. It is often prepared communally as a social stew. It is popular as the basis for civic fund-raisers in the American Midwest and South.
Traditional burgoo was made using whatever meats and vegetables were available—typically, venison, squirrel, opossum, raccoon or game birds, and was often associated with autumn and the harvest season. Today, local Kentucky barbecue restaurants use a specific meat in their recipes, usually pork, chicken, or mutton, which, along with the spices used, creates a distinct flavor unique to each restaurant.
Burgoo making in Kentucky often serves as a social event, in which each attendee brings one or more ingredients. In Kentucky and surrounding states such as Indiana, burgoo is often used for fund-raising for schools. This kind of event has been claimed to have been invented by the family of Ollie Beard, a former Major League Baseball player. In Brighton, Illinois, a local traditional burgoo is prepared and served annually at the village's summer festival, the Betsy Ann Picnic. Franklin, Illinois identifies as the Burgoo Capital of the World; they have an annual burgoo cookout over July 3 and July 4.
A typical burgoo is a combination of at least three ingredients: a combination of beef, pork, chicken, and mutton, often hickory-smoked, but other meats are seen occasionally; vegetables, such as lima beans, corn, okra, and potatoes; and a thickening agent, such as cornmeal, ground beans, whole wheat, or potato starch. Traditionally, soup bones were added for taste and thickening.
The ingredients are combined in order of cooking time required, with meat first, vegetables next, and thickening agents as necessary. A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it. Cider vinegar, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or chili powder are common condiments. In some areas spices such as Cinnamon and nutmeg are used, as in Cincinnati chili.
- Booyah, a social stew popular in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin
- Brunswick stew
- Fish fry, often an event and social group fund raiser
- Southern Illinois chowder, another kind of social stew
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