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Like the Gumbo of Cajun country, or the Irish and Mulligan stews, Burgoo is a spicy stew from Kentucky and Illinois.

Like most traditional folk dishes, there is no single recipe for Burgoo, as it varies by time and place. It probably originated as a wild game dish or a hunter's stew with a wide variety of meats used alongs with tomatoes, lima beans, onions, potatoes, okra and corn. It has been nicknamed 'roadkill stew,' and not without reason, as squirrels and other varmints have found their way into burgoo pots.

"Burgoo is an 'outdoor, get-together' event most of the time, taking many hours to prepare," says Albert Schmid in Burgoo, Barbecue & Bourbon. "Many of the early recipes are huge - so large that they could literally feed an army. Burgoo also has political ties because in Kentucky, a political rally or gathering that featured this dish was called a 'burgoo.' The two burgoos (the political rally and the soup/stew) may have concided because burgoo (the soup/stew) is best 'when fresh vegetables are at their peak,' mid- to late summer and early fall, and the political season is in full swing."

Burgoo is often served with corn pones, cornbread, biscuits, soda bread, and mint juleps, beer or iced tea, and with peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream for dessert. 


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