kentucky burgoo

What You'll Need:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or rendered animal fat
  • 3-4 pounds venison roast, chuck or round preferred, trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 2 whole rabbits
  • 6 duck legs
  • 2 quarts stock or water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, sliced
  • 3 multicolor carrots, sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cabbage, sliced thin
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup diced turnip
  • 1 pound bag frozen corn, shoepeg or home grown preferred (or you may use hominy)
  • 1 14 ounce bag frozen baby lima beans
  • 2 cups sliced frozen okra
  • 2 pods dried red chili peppers
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes with liquid, chopped (or 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes)
  • ¾ cup Kentucky bourbon
  • Salt, pepper, hot sauce, steak sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to taste


Gamey or tough meat cuts need a little preparation ahead of time. If you are using beef, pork, chicken and tender cuts, you can just brown them in batches and then get the stew started from there. You’ll just need to break down larger pieces once they are tender.

For our meats we braised the rabbits until they fell off the bone with garlic and juniper berries. We made a confit of the duck and then smoked it. For the venison, we smoked it, browned it and then added it directly to the stock pot.

Browning meats: heat vegetable oil or rendered fat on medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Salt the meats well on all sides. When the oil is shimmering hot, work in batches browning all the meats. Do not over crowd the pan or the meat will steam and not brown well. Do not move the meat too early in the browning process or it will tear. Let the meat pieces sear until dark brown on all sides. Remove to a bowl or pan to hold.

If you need to, add a little more oil or fat to the pot. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and carrot to the pot and sauté for 5 minutes. When the vegetables start to take on color and the onions are translucent add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute more. Then add the cabbage and sprinkle well with salt. Once the cabbage has wilted, add the meats back in along with the potatoes, turnip, and chili pods. Pour in the stock, bourbon, and tomatoes. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 3-4 hours.

If you have not already done so, remove any meat on a bone, let it cool enough to handle, shred it and return it to the pot. When the potatoes are done and the vegetables are very tender, add the frozen vegetables, the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and steak sauce. Taste and reseason.