Kentucky Burgoo

kentucky burgoo

The confluence of late summer and the bluegrass political season mean it’s time for Kentucky Burgoo. A favorite place for both is the Fancy Farm picnic sponsored by St. Jerome in western Kentucky. For 140 years it’s become famous for the food, foibles and faux pas of politicians.

Kentucky Burgoo

Rabbit, Hog, Venison and Beef Bones

Wild game is used in traditional recipes with three different meats like squirrel, deer and rabbit or more exotic choices like wild hog and raccoon. Today, if you’re a squeamish city-dweller you can make this with chicken, pork and beef, but still call it burgoo.

Restaurants stick to chicken and beef because of the large quantities required. Unfortunately they tend to offer a thinner version more akin to soup than burgoo. We don’t suffer the same constraints, so we’re free to make it the traditional way.

There are no limitations on vegetables, so we throw in a smorgasbord with a myriad of seasonings and create a thick, scrumptious stew. Cook it down slowly until a spoon will stand straight up and you have real Kentucky burgoo.

okra and corn
Okra and Corn
kentucky burgoo 2
Kentucky Burgoo

Kentucky Burgoo

Traditional Kentucky stew using three different wild game meats

  • Author: TJ




  • 1 lb rabbit loin or chicken
  • 1 lb venison or mutton or beef stew meat
  • 1 lb pork shoulder or squirrel or wild hog back strap
  • 4 large knuckle or beef bones
  • 4 quarts water


  • 6 medium onions – finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic – minced
  • 2 green peppers – seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 medium turnip – peeled and small diced
  • 28 oz canned marzano peeled tomatoes – chopped
  • 1 large carrot – peeled, sliced and chopped
  • 2 cups freshly shelled small butter beans
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 cups celery – thinly sliced
  • 2 cups green cabbage – finely chopped
  • 1 whole red pepper pod

Seasonings and Thickeners


  • 1 lb fresh okra – sliced
  • 56 ears fresh corn – kernels sliced off the cob, milk reserved
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • Juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 TBL worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBL sugar
  • 11/2 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper


Day One

  1. Combine the meats, beef bones and water in a large pot, bring it to a boil, cover and lower the heat to a simmer for 4 hours, let cool, strain and reserve the stock
  2. Remove and discard any skin, bone or gristle from the meats
  3. Cut the meats into 1″-2″ pieces, then shred them with forks, return the meat to the reserved stock and refrigerate overnight


Day Two

  1. Skim off and discard half the congealed fat
  2. Whisk together the dry seasonings
  3. Return the pot to the stove, add the vegetables and 2/3 the dry seasonings, bring to a simmer for an hour until it begins to thicken
  4. Slice the okra and cut the kernels off the corn cobs, scrape the cobs for the milk
  5. Add the okra, kernels and milk to the pot
  6. Add the worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, remaining dry ingredients and stir to combine
  7. Continue to cook uncovered, until the consistency is a thick stew in which a spoon will stand straight up – about two hours
  8. Serve in a mug with a slice of cornbread