Kentucky burgoo is one of those regional American dishes that defies simple explanation or categorization. It is broadly described as a soup or stew made from meats or vegetables, which was cooked all day outdoors in iron kettles over an open fire as part of a community gathering. The older references to burgoo always seem to agree that the stew have a variety of meats, including wild game. There is a suggestion that community members would each contribute different ingredients to the burgoo, so that no two batches of burgoo were ever quite the same. This reminds us of the Stone Soup story we heard as children, based on the award-winning children’s book by Marcia Brown. If you haven’t read it, we recommend it highly.
There isn’t even agreement about the origin of the word “burgoo.” Alternative derivations are detailed at this website; take a look for yourself. We think the notion that burgoo came from “bulgur” plus “ragout” probably makes the most sense, but no matter the derivation, the recipe is excellent.
Recently, we made Rachael Ray’s Kentucky burgoo burgers as featured on Food Network. This recipe is a far cry from the origins of burgoo, but the flavor is a hearty echo of the dish. We served the burgers with the relish and the southern succotash Rachael Ray also recommended, and we added out potato recipe from a previous blog entry. Enjoy!