Last night I mentioned burgoo in my post, and received a question from my friend in Syracuse wondering what burgoo is. Well, as I told Mark, it is the food of the gods, made correctly only at 2 places here in Daviess County, Kentucky. The recipe is adapted from the Keller Brothers original recipe circa. early 1900’s, possibly earlier than that. The burgoo is made in large kettles, similar to the one shown above, though not quite so decorative, or so huge, unless you are the one who has been stirring it the last 20 hours. Then you would swear it was 5 times that size.
These photos were taken last September at Mount St. Joseph Convention Center’s annual picnic, where my brother is chaplain. They are one of the 2 places that use the original recipe, and make it right. I don’t write food blogs, because I don’t usually follow recipes, just mostly look at what is on hand in the fridge and dump it in a pot or a casserole dish and see what turns out. But on this occasion, I’m going to reveal a recipe my mom adapted for 5 gallons (or a bit more) of this delicious nectar. Usually it ends up overflowing the pot, and you are scrambling around looking for another deep pot when you are through adding everything, as you can see in these photos of my sister, Elaine, taken last summer at her home in Colorado. So I guess the burgoo is made correctly in Monument and Colorado Springs also, since my 2 sisters live there. Okay, here goes, courtesy of my mom, Mary Blandford Goetz.
1 6 – 8 lb hen or small turkey, with stock
1. 6 -8 lb boneless beef roast (sirloin tip) or mutton quarter; with stock
5 lbs. quartered potatoes, peeled
2 lbs. cabbage
3 med. onions
4 2 1/2 size cans corn ( pints)
2 46oz cans tomato juice (2 gallons)
1 Tablespoon black pepper
3 cups Worcestershire sauce
Salt to taste (Mom usually dropped the salt shaker in the pot at this point, purely by accident, but still…..)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
Cook meat until very tender, remove skin, bones, and fat. Break meat into small pieces, shred or grind. Use food processor and use all meat stock. Cut potatoes, onions and cabbage into very small pieces for grinder or food processor. Chop quickly, do not pulverize. Combine vegetables before adding the meat and meat stock, and about 2 gallons of water. Partially cook the vegetables before adding the meat and seasonings. (The starch in the potatoes will cause them to stick to the bottom of the kettle, so you will have to stir almost constantly.) Add the shredded meat, tomato juice, and tomato paste and enough water to fill the kettle. Cook for about 2 hours, stirring constantly. Dissolve the black pepper in 1/2 cup water and add, along with the Worcestershire sauce. Then cook and stir for about one more hour.
Whew! There you have it. The perfect Burgoo. And you don’t have to grind the corn!!!! We made it every summer, feasted for a couple of days, then froze some for later in the fall. It was just never enough for the 9 of us though. My 4 brothers could eat a gallon each, probably still can for that matter. Well, I’m pretty sure Ray can. The freezer on his right is full of burgoo and country sausage that he buys every year for all of the picnics he hosts for fellow priests at his rectory. And he is always there with a container of the magic elixir when I run out and feel the need for a refill before the next picnic.
As you can probably tell from reading the recipe, this is an expensive, and heavy exercise pot of love, but after the two long days it takes to prepare it, you can lean back and congratulate yourself on a job well done. And if you are smart, you will put off making it until winter, when it makes more sense to do all the heavy lifting necessary to make it, and when you will appreciate the wonderful taste of this Kentucky favorite. And don’t ask where the name came from. I’ve heard stories about the origin of the dish, and believe me, you don’t want to know. But if you want to have a great time with a few dozen friends, make this outside, over a fire pot, in a huge kettle, taking turns stirring, and then serve it with a good crusty bread and you will take a trip to Kentucky’s bluegrass and heaven all at the same time. Okay, we aren’t in the Bluegrass region, but since they don’t have burgoo in that part of KY, at least not the REAL burgoo, so I’ll invite you on behalf of the entire state. And please don’t try it in any other part of the state. They don’t even pronounce it correctly.
For the real deal, come to Owensboro on Mother’s Day weekend and enjoy the International Barbecue Festival at the River Front Park, but be careful even there about where you get your burgoo. I would recommend just going to Old Hickory Barbecue Inn and ordering it there, rather than getting it at the river and taking a chance on buying bad burgoo. THERE ARE NO BEANS OR SQUASH IN REAL BURGOO. You have to be careful there, because since it is so expensive to make now, a lot of places are cutting the cost by adding knockoff ingredients to the pot. That’s just not nice.