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Kentucky Burgoo - My First BIG Stew

Kentucky Burgoo - My First BIG Stew

Kentucky Burgoo.

Kentucky Burgoo. From watching Emeril Lagasse on television, I remember this as my first big stew that I cooked for my family. It was also one of the few times that my grandmother asked for seconds, even though she didn't drink, she loved the taste of the added bourbon. I can remember bringing all the ingredients to my mother's house, and my knives. I took over the kitchen for the day and started the meal.  10 people were coming over for supper, and the Burgoo was the featured menu item. Burgoo is a pioneer dish and was usually cooked outdoors, in massive pots.

Kentucky Burgoo Stirring the pot
Kentucky Burgoo Stirring the pot

A Big Stew

This is not a dish that can be whipped up in an hour. It involves many ingredients and at least 5 hours of cook time including the prep. I had to make sure that I had dish washers handy since everything was being used a few times. The secret ingredient was Makers Mark Bourbon. Even though the alcohol was burned off, the flavor still permeated through the dish.

Kentucky Burgoo

Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 5 hours
Total time: 6 hours
Serves: 8 servings

A historic old world stew with everything in the garden and pastures. This is one stew that is big but rewards you with some complex flavors and a lot of stew.


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds boneless beef shank, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, quartered
  • 4 cloves peeled garlic
  • 1 medium fresh hot red pepper, quartered
  • Water, to cover
  • 1 (3 to 4 pound) whole chicken or hen, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 2 cups medium diced carrots
  • 1 cup medium diced green bell peppers
  • 1 pound Idaho potatoes, peeled and medium diced
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup Makers Mark Bourbon


  1. Add oil to LARGE pot.
  2. Season beef and lamb
  3. sear the meat on all sides in batches
  4. Add onions, garlic, cloves, and pepper to sweat for a few minutes
  5. Add meat to pot, cover with water, about 3 to 4 quarts
  6. Add bourbon
  7. bring to boil then reduce heat
  8. Simmer for about 3 hours occasionally removing foam
  9. Season chicken with salt and pepper then add to the pot for last hour and 1/2 cooking time.
  10. When cooked, remove meat, chicken, and vegetables from pot.
  11. Discard vegetables and let the meat cool.
  12. OPTIONAL: Strain liquid through a china cap and cheesecloth.
  13. Add remaining vegetables and brown sugar to liquid in the pot.
  14. Cook for an additional hour.
  15. When meat has cooled Remove skin, fat, and bones from all the meat into 1" pieces
  16. Add meat back into pot
  17. Reseason and cook for another 30 minutes.
  18. Serve with cornbread or biscuits.

Enjoy this great stew.

Chef Mike

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