Friday, 25 April 2008

Kentucky Derby Fare: Burgoo

The Kentucky Derby, held at Churchill Downs the first Saturday of every May, is the longest running sports event of all time. I've never been to the Derby, but my dear friend, Kathy from Louisville, hasn't missed one in years and she talks about the experience extensively -- especially the food.

Burgoo is a soup that dates back to the Civil War times and is a traditional dish served to patrons of the Kentucky Derby. At Derby time, you'll see many street vendors making copious amounts of this tasty treat in huge metal vats.

There are many, many regional variations of this dish from light and thin to thick and hearty and from spicy to mild. This tomato-based version is a quick, light version of the original that is sure to please even the pickiest of palates.

Kentucky Burgoo

12 cups water
1 (3-pound) fresh whole chicken, cut up
2 pounds stew beef, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 strips of bacon
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 (16-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, undrained
1 cup peeled potato, cubed
2 cups chopped carrots
1 onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 whole cloves
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 whole bay leaf
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 (10-ounce) packages frozen okra, thawed
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen lima beans, thawed

Combine water, chicken, stew beef, salt and pepper in a large stockpot. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, turning it down to medium low when it reaches a simmer, until the meat is tender, about 1 hour.

Remove the chicken and beef. Reserve the broth. Skim any fat from the surface. Remove and discard the skin and bones and discard. Dice the meat and return to the pot.

In a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp, 7 or 8 minutes. Remove from heat and drain bacon, leaving the drippings in the skillet; crumble bacon and add to the stockpot. Add flour to the bacon drippings, return to burner and cook, stirring until smooth and starting to turn golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir this roux into the broth until dissolved.

Add tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, green bell pepper, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, cloves, garlic and bay leaf. Cover and simmer for 1 hour; stirring often.

Remove the cloves and bay leaf. Add corn, okra and lima beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Yield: Serves 12

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