Kentucky Burgoo

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Photo Credit: Elise Bauer

 

Burgoo,  is  Kentucky’s most famous stew and it usually made for big gatherings such as Derby Day, church socials, barbecues and  family picnics in huge kettles. A hearty meat stew, burgoo is most often made with chicken, beef, and lamb simmered with vegetables, beans, tomatoes, Worcestershire, sorghum or molasses, ketchup, vinegar, and spices.

Burgoo predates the Civil War and as legend has it, was invented by a French chef.And in taking it’s culinary origins in that fact, the word burgoo  may have derived from the French ragout (pronounced ra-goo), also a term describing a stew.

Nineteenth-century versions of burgoo served around the South frequently included squirrel, opossum, and rabbit, and was gently simmered and stirred for up to 24 hours. Like a mulligan stew, it’s sort of a empty-the-fridge recipe. Burgoos typically have at least three different meats, and plenty of vegetables such as corn, okra, and lima beans.

While modern day cooks applaud the stamina of those early chefs, these days a good burgoo can be made in four to six hours. That is still a commitment, to be sure, but the results—spicy, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food—are worth it. Like gumbo found in Gulf Coast, burgoo has many variations. In keeping with the food theme of using Kentucky bourbon,  this  version uses bourbon in the stock, which we are certainly partial to.

As with most stews, burgoo is even better the second day. It’s excellent as a Sunday dinner when you want lunches for the coming week.

Serves 12 to 14

Ingredients:

2 pounds pork shank
2 pounds veal shank
2 pounds beef shank
2 pounds breast of lamb
One 4-pound chicken, cut into eight pieces
7 quarts cold water
1 quart chicken stock
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
1 1/2 pounds onions, diced
1 bunch carrots, peeled and sliced thickly
2 green peppers, seeded and chopped
One 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2  tablespoons  tomato paste
2  tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups whole corn, fresh or canned
2 pods red pepper
2 cups  okra, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups dry lima beans
1 cup diced celery
3/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to tatste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Directions:
Put the pork, veal, beef, lamb, and chicken into a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the water and chicken stock and bring it to a boil slowly. Simmer until meat is tender enough to fall off the bones, about 4 to 6 hours.

Lift the meat out of the stock. Cool the meat, remove it from the bones, and chop it. Return the chopped meat to the stock.

Add the potatoes, onions, carrots, green peppers, tomato tomato paste brown sugar, corn, red pepper, okra, parsley, thyme, lima beans, celery, and bourbon, to the meat and stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the stew to simmer over low heat until very thick about 6 hours.

Season to taste with the salt, pepper and serve with a good crusty bread.

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Deviled Chicken Livers on Toast with Watercress

I love to serve this dish on thick toasted bread to soak up the sauce. It’s so simple and very budget friendly, If chicken livers are not your cup of tea, you can certainly substitute mushrooms for the livers in this recipe. Most liver is prepared for you these days, but it’s important to remove any white sinewy strings or yellow bits before cooking. Chicken livers are quite rich, so a little devilling with pepper and spices is a great approach. The essential part of sautéing livers is not to overcook them, but to keep them nice and pink in the middle. That way you will enjoy eating them so much more. This dish makes for a really good lunch or supper dish, or a starter for two or more people.

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:
2 heaped tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon English mustard powder
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 pound chicken livers, trimmed of any sinew and discolouration
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ tablespoon sherry vinegar
Few splashes Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 pieces of sourdough or cibatta bread
1 bunch watercress, trimmed, washed and dried
Splash of olive oil
½ tablespoon capers (optional)
A handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Mix the flour, mustard powder, cayenne and salt and pepper. Put into a flat dish and toss the chicken livers in the mixture. Dust off any excess and put them on a plate in one layer.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan on a high heat. When it is hot, add the chicken livers. When they are all sizzling nicely, turn the heat down a little – you want enough heat to create a crisp coat but not so much that they char. Turn after 2 minutes and cook the other side for 2 minutes.

Lift the livers out on to a warm plate and quickly add to the pan the sherry vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Let these simmer for a moment, then add the chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan and capture all the flavors. Once the stock has reduced a little, add the butter and swirl it into the stock.

Toast the bread. Dress the watercress with the olive oil, seasoning and capers.

Return the livers to the pan and let them fry for a minute. Throw in the parsley

To serve, place a slice of toast on a plate. Pile the watercress on to the warm toast and spoon the livers and the sauce on top.

devilled-chicken-livers2


Catfish and Crab Creole Gumbo

catfish crab gumbo

Some version of gumbo is always on the menu at any given restaurant in New Orleans. This classic seafood version, which is chock-full chicken, Jonah crab claws and vegetables swimming in a broth richly flavored, is always a hit with a crowd. You can also make it the centerpiece of a Mardi Gras meal.

Yields: 3 quarts, 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
3/4 cup finely chopped green bell peppers
3/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 to 5 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
6 cups fish stock
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
6 chicken drumsticks
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon file pepper
4 cups chicken stock
1 pound catfish, cut into large chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons dry Creole seasoning*
1 dozen Jonah crab legs
1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1 10-ounce package of frozen okra
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped tender green onion tops
White Rice, for serving

Directions:
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the oil allowing it to heat for about 5 minutes until it begins to shimmer, then add the flour to the skillet. With a wooden spoon, stir the oil and flour together to form a roux. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to stir the roux for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the color of dark chocolate. Add the onions, bell peppers, and celery to the roux and stir to blend. Stir the vegetables for 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Cook the garlic for 30 seconds before adding the the stock to the pot.

Heat an 8-quart stockpot over medium heat, add the roux to the pot and season with with the thyme, bay leaves, salt,pepper, and file powder. Add the chicken stock. Add the chicken. Bring the gumbo to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the gumbo for 1 hour, skimming the foam and any oil that rises to the surface.

Season the catfish with creole seasoning. Stir in the crab legs and the catfish into the gumbo and cook for 10 minutes. Add the okra to the pot and cook, stirring often, for an additional 5 minutes. Taste the gumbo and season with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and chicken bones and discard.

To serve, garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve in shallow bowls over white rice.

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