A Cup of Burgoo

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(Joe Putnam, Reckonin’) – Have you ever enjoyed a bowl of burgoo? I did earlier this year, in the dining room of the Old Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky.

What exactly is burgoo? A sort-of thick soup, heavily seasoned, of Southern origin. Under the entry for stew, the (online) Encyclopedia Britannica noted that “Kentucky’s burgoo is similar, adding beef and potatoes, carrots, turnips, and other vegetables”. A 5/22/2023 online Taste of Home article What is burgoo and how do you make it? that I found while researching noted that burgoo is “a regional specialty around the Bluegrass State as well as parts of Illinois and the Ohio River Valley”. Everyone seems to think this southern dish started in Kentucky.

Everette Dick’s fascinating 1948 book The Dixie Frontier: A Social History tells us more. In the 12th chapter Dick tells us that after events like a log rolling there would be a feast: “A favorite dish was know as bergu or burgoo. It was a pot pie made from a mixture of vegetables of all kinds and wild meats such as squirrel, turkey, venison, and the like, highly seasoned and cooked in a big iron kettle out of doors”. Later in that chapter he noted that when a corn husking was finished: “After that came the supper, which always included burgoo”. Further, Kleber’s 1992 Encyclopedia of Kentucky tells us of burgoo that: “Its use as the name of a Kentucky stew is traced to Gus Jaubert, of John Hunt Morgan’s cavalry, who applied it to…

A Cup of Burgoo – RECKONIN’