Kentucky Favorite Burgoo

Brunswick Stew, Irish Mulligan Stew, Cassoulet, and Burgoo all share a similar palette of meat, sometimes beans/potatoes or both, veggies, and flavorful sauce.  But they diverge regionally.  All are hearty peasant stews made with locally sourced food.  For each of these dishes, there are many variations.  So, you could almost say this is stew done four different ways. The method is basically the same.

Below is my understanding of the general identities, going from thin to thick.

  • Brunswick (rumored to come from Brunswick, Georgia) often features chicken, potatoes, lima beans, corn, onions, and tomatoes.  The sauce is not particularly thick, usually a chicken broth base.
  • Irish Mulligan Stew features mutton and potatoes, as well as other veggies.  Tomatoes do not appear to make their way into this stew.  Beans also aren’t famously featured. 
  • Cassoulet hails from the south of France (Languedoc) and highlights duck confit (duck legs simmered in duck fat until unctuously tender), sausage, and pork, along with perfectly cooked tarbais or cannellini beans.  Greens, onions, and tomatoes round out the dish.  A classic cassoulet is baked, and the crusty top is regularly turned down into the dish.  White wine and broth are traditional base to the stew.
  • Burgoo is a Kentucky favorite. (I won’t go into the name, except to say some believe it is a mispronounced version of something having to do with beef and burgundy.  If you are missing a lot of your teeth in Kentucky, maybe this is what it sounds like?  That said, if you are eating this, you will need all your teeth, as it is the meatiest of all the stews mentioned.) It is a very thick stew of at least three different meats.  Mutton/lamb, beef, pork, chicken.  Sausage does not make an appearance (but it would be welcome I am sure).  Old-timers added a clutch of varmints (squirrel, possum) and birds (quail, duck, pheasant).  Beans are usually fresh limas, but dried limas work well.  Corn, okra, onion, and tomato round out the sauce.  Red wine and broth are the base of this stew.  It is rumored that if you cannot stand your wooden spoon upright in your pot of burgoo, then it is not ready yet.

Stacey’s Kentucky Burgoo

(Long list of ingredients, but a simple preparation)

(8-12 servings)


  • 1 lb beef (1-inch cubes)
  • 1 lb lamb (1-inch cubes)
  • 1 turkey wing or 1 large Muscovy duck wing (what I did) (about 1 lb total)
  • 2 smoked pork hocks/shanks (approx. 1-lb)
  • 3 C cooked lima beans (about 2 cans, but why not cook them yourself?)
  • 3 C potatoes (2-inch cubes)
  • 2 C onions, rough chopped (1-inch pieces)
  • 2 C carrots chopped (1-inch pieces)
  • 2 C celery chopped (1-inch pieces)
  • 2 C rough chopped cabbage (I used red)
  • 6-10 cloves of garlic, rough chopped
  • 3 C frozen okra (chopped)
  • 1-2 C canned or frozen yellow corn (we used home canned and all the liquid in the jar) (14 oz can)
  • ½ C BBQ sauce (we used homemade)
  • ¼ C monk fruit OR 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (we used fire roasted)
  • 6-7 C chicken broth (we used duck broth)
  • 1 ½ C cabernet sauvignon or your red wine of choice
  • ¼ C (or less) red wine vinegar (at the end)
  • 3 T Worcestershire sauce
  • Oil for browning:  ½ C lard, light EVOO or avocado oil.  Add more oil if needed.
  • 2 bay leaves


  • Precook the beans and set aside. (You could do this later while everything else is in the oven cooking.)
  • Dry all the meat with paper towels and add salt and pepper.
  • In separate batches, brown the meats in a couple tablespoons of oil. Add more oil as needed.
  • In the pot that you browned your meat, add onion/carrot/celery/garlic.  Sauté til slightly colored/cooked.
  • Add back the meats.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, 5 C of broth, 1 ½ C wine, monkfruit/or brown sugar, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and bay leaves. (Save vinegar for the end.)
  • Cover and simmer on LOW stove OR cover and put into a 325 F oven for 3 hours (oven is what I did).
  • Keep watching and stirring once each hour.  Add more broth if you think it is getting too dry.
  • At hour 3, add the potatoes, okra, corn.  Cook until done (30 min? —check the potatoes for doneness.). This is easiest done on the stove top.
  • Add pre-cooked limas at the 5-minute mark prior to serving.
  • Before serving, taste.  If you think it would be improved with S&P and vinegar to taste, add it.  You might only need 2-3 T of vinegar or nothing at all. 
  • Let set for 15 minutes off the heat to combine flavors and to cool to eating temperature.

To Serve:

  • This dish does not need any adornments.  Just plop it into a bowl or a mug and settle down to watch the Derby. 

What Else Could You Serve with This? Romaine salad with fresh peaches, crispy bacon, and vinaigrette, cheddar drop biscuits or chewy sourdough bread.

Post Note: Why cook the beans separately?  Beans can vary widely in their cooking times depending upon how old they are. The last thing you want is a perfectly cooked stew with a bunch of undercooked beans. My limas were a bit elderly, and I had to cook them 3 times as long as expected. The old beans taste just as good, but they likely will take longer to cook in your preferred method.

Stay briny,



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