Saturday, May 4, 2013

Kentucky Derby Day

As I begin this post, I do need to acknowledge my lack of qualification to write about the Kentucky Derby. The scope of my knowledge of the Kentucky Derby is as follows:

  1. The Kentucky Derby is a horse race run in Churchill Downs, Kentucky
  2. The Kentucky Derby is the first of three races comprising the Triple Crown
  3. A field of twenty 3-year-old horses and their jockeys race in the Kentucky Derby
  4. My Old Kentucky Home is sung before the start of the Kentucky Derby
  5. The winning horse is presented with a wreath of red roses
  6. Mint juleps are traditionally served at the Kentucky Derby
  7. 2013 was the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby
  8. The 2013 Kentucky Derby winner was Orb  (watching him run down the final stretch and seeing his demeanor when it became apparent that he would be the winner was pretty amazing)
  9. Women attending the Kentucky Derby wear amazing hats. Check out this link: Kentucky Derby Hats
That being said, I do enjoy taking days such as Kentucky Derby Day and turning them into a bit of a cooking extravaganza. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, we do enjoy trying new recipes and also have an affinity for good down home Southern cooking. Earlier this week, I began searching for Kentucky Derby Day recipes and came across recipes for Kentucky Burgoo. To be honest, I had not heard of burgoo before this week (apologies to my Southern readers). It sounded like something we would enjoy, so I decided to proceed.

To give you a little background on burgoo, it is a thick stew that is associated with Kentucky much as gumbo is associated with Louisiana. Some prefer the burgoo so thick that a fork can stand up in it. Others prefer being able to distinguish the individual ingredients in the burgoo. I tend to lean more toward the latter. Traditionally, burgoo was made with a variety of meat and vegetables that were available. In earlier times, this would include squirrel, raccoon, rabbit, opossum, and venison. Most modern recipes include pork, beef, and chicken. The vegetables, however, have remained consistent through the years and may include carrots, onion, corn, lima beans, and okra. Burgoo tends to be made in large batches and can be made as part of a social event with attendees bringing one or more ingredients to be included.

Here is the recipe that I tried, including the modifications that I made along the way. Here's a picture of the ingredients I used:

Kentucky Burgoo

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3.5 lbs pork stew meat
3.5 lbs beef stew meat
2 large boneless chicken breasts cut into stew size cubes
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 large sweet onion
Chopped carrots
Chopped celery
1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
1 quart chicken broth
1 quart beef broth
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
5 small/medium russet potatoes
1 lb bag frozen corn 
1 lb bag frozen lima beans
Salt and pepper to taste
4-8 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • Heat vegetable oil on medium high heat in a large soup pot (I use my pressure cooker pot).  When the oil is simmering hot, brown the meat in batches. (I browned the chicken, beef, and pork separately.) After browning each batch, set it aside in a large bowl. I'm including an illustration of the meat after I browned it. Yes, this is a lot of meat. Keep in mind that burgoo is prepared in large batches and that this recipe makes about 12-16 servings. Perfect for us since we love leftovers.
    • Add the onions, pepper, carrots, and celery and brown/saute them. If necessary add additional vegetable oil to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the pot. You may have noticed that I didn't include amounts of carrots and celery. I typically chop up enough of these until the amount "looks" right. I am including a picture of what my vegetable combination looked like as I started this step. After the vegetables are well-browned, stir in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds

    • Add the meat, beef and chicken broth, and tomatoes, and stir to combine. Simmer for about 2 hours.
    • Peel and cut the potatoes into stew meat-sized chunks and add the to the stew. Cook until the potatoes are done, about 45 minutes. When the potatoes are done, stir in the Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper, and any additional spices you may wish to add.
    • Add the corn and lima beans and cook for another 10 minutes. At this point, the stew is done, if you prefer a thicker stew, continue to cook until the desired thickness is reached.
    Serve with corn bread or fresh-baked bread. Season with additional salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce as desired.

    One final thing … I did mention that hats are part of women's attire for the Kentucky Derby. Here is the Princess Ariel fascinator I wore today. Somehow, I'm thinking that the folks at Churchill Downs might not allow me admittance.