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Ken McBroom’s Kentucky Burgoo

Beef, Poultry, Vegetables

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Submitted by Ken McBroom


  • Vegetable oil to brown meat
  • 1 pound venison, chunked
  • 2 rabbits or squirrels; wild hog makes a great addition
  • 1 chicken or pheasant baked in Dutch oven, then shredded
  • Large onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • ½ lb okra, optional
  • 1 small to medium garlic bulb, cleaned and minced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 (29 oz) can yellow corn
  • 2 (15.8 oz) cans black-eyed peas
  • 2 (46 oz) cans tomato juice, homemade is best
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 quarts broth, either chicken, beef or combination
  • 1 bottle dark beer


NOTE: The origins of Kentucky burgoo are varied. I ran across the recipe years ago when looking for a good recipe to cook over the fire at deer camp. Kentucky burgoo is the perfect recipe to cook over a campfire and has become a seasonal tradition at bowhunters camp each year. Kentucky burgoo is a mixture of vegetables and at least three meats. The meats should be of three different types like rabbit, squirrel and deer. To me this is the secret to the taste. You can use chicken and beef stew meat or whatever meat you have on hand, but as a rule I always try to have at least one wild game meat in the pot. This recipe is sized for a big pot over the campfire, so convert ingredients to adjust for home cooking, such as in a Crock pot. 

With the oil in a large pot, cast iron if cooking over the campfire, brown all the venison over medium-high heat. As for the other meats you can either cut them up and toss them into the burgoo to simmer for a few hours, then remove the meat from the bone; or you can cook them separately, remove the meat, then add it to the pot. I prefer cooking the chicken and squirrel in a separate pot. Baked chicken in a Dutch oven is delicious. You can cook the whole chicken in a Dutch oven on the fire while preparing the burgoo. Same with the squirrels. I like to boil them and retain some of the broth to add to the Kentucky burgoo. You can also boil the chicken then remove the meat and retain the broth. The homemade broth really adds to the burgoo flavor. 

Set all the meat aside and put a little oil back in the pot and scrape the bottom to loosen all the brown crumbs from browning the meat. This adds lots of flavor. Also, getting it loose now will keep it from burning as the Kentucky burgoo cooks over the fire. Add all your vegetables and cook until translucent, just a few minutes. You can add all onion, carrots, celery and okra in the pot to just boil in the burgoo, but simmering them this way brings out all the flavors, especially the garlic, which you want to add for just a minute right before the vegetables are done. This melding of the flavors intensifies it for the finished dish and it does make a difference. 

Once the veggies are browned and the garlic has roasted and filled the camp with the smell that deer camps are famous for, I like to pour one bottle of dark beer in and let it simmer for a few seconds. Then add the meat and broth to your pot. The recipe calls for 2 quarts of broth, but like anything else in camp just wing it and add what’s needed to get you Kentucky burgoo perfect. Some like it thick and some like their burgoo thin like a soup. 

While the burgoo is heating back up, peel your potatoes and add those to the pot. Now it is starting to look like a meal. Throw in the corn and black-eyed peas and kick back and enjoy an old country song or a friendly conversation with fellow hunters and let the fire do its thing. The Kentucky burgoo is ready as soon as the potatoes are soft. Serve with a slice of Jalapeno cornbread on the side.

This Kentucky burgoo recipe is the perfect deer camp grub that will feed a few hunters for a couple days. It’s easy to make and fun as well. I usually take the entire day to hang out in camp and do a few camp chores, keeping the fire stoked while the ingredients are cooking. 

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