Appalachian Burgoo

It’s that time of year again, for the annual traditional Alabama vs. Tennessee game, so in honor of the game, our tailgating recipe this week is for Appalachian Burgoo. It will be especially nice since the forecast calls for a cool day, perfect to watch Bama whip some Tennessee butt.

Traditional burgoo is a beggar’s stew made from whatever meat could be scavenged. Typically in the Tennessee mountains, that would be squirrel or opossum, but since I don’t have time to trap an opossum or shoot some squirrels, mine is made with a combination of beef and pork. This is a big recipe and feeds plenty of Bama fans, or a small army!

  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3# pork country ribs cut into 3″ cubes
  • 2-3# beef chuck roast, cubed
  • 3 chicken thighs or legs, your choice
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 quart beef stock
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 bag frozen lima beans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce as needed to taste

Heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot (at least 8 quart size). Salt the meats well on all sides. When the oil is shimmering hot, working in batches brown all the meats. Do not crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown well. Do not move the meat while browning a side. Let the meat pieces get well seared. Remove the browned meats to a bowl.

Add the onions, carrots, celery and green pepper to the pot and brown them. If necessary, add a little more oil to the pot. After a few minutes of cooking, sprinkle salt over the vegetables. When the vegetables are well browned, add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until fragrant. Add back the meats, and the chicken and beef broths and the tomatoes, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 2 hours.

Uncover and remove the meat pieces. Strip the chicken off the bone and discard skin if you want. Break the larger pieces of meat into smaller, more manageable pieces. The reason you did not do this at first is because the meats stay juicier when they cook in larger pieces. Return all the meat pieces to the pot and bring it up to a strong simmer.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks about the same size as the meat pieces (if using new potatoes, you can skip the peeling, but russets you’ll want to peel). Add them to the stew and cook them until they are done, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, add the Worcestershire sauce, mix well and taste for salt. Add more Worcestershire sauce to taste if needed. Add the corn and lima beans. Mix well and cook for at least 10 minutes, or longer if you’d like. Here is the point where you decide whether you want a burgoo that’s been hammered into a thick mass or a stew with bright colors in it. It’s your call.

To serve, taste one more time for salt, and add either Worcestershire or salt if you want. Serve with crusty bread or cornbread and a bottle of hot sauce on the side.


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