Kentucky Burgoo

Makes 12 servings. Recipe excerpted from “A Love Affair With Southern Cooking: Recipes and Recollections” by Jean Anderson (William Morrow, 2007) is reprinted with permission from Anderson says the recipe, served at the Pete Light Springs Restaurant in Cadiz, Ky., was given to her by Lois Watkins. Historians believe burgoo was created during the Civil War by Gus Jaubert, a French chef serving Confederate general John Hunt Morgan, Anderson writes. Jaubert’s original recipe apparently included blackbirds, and most early burgoos probably contained mostly squirrel. Some people think the dish is a Kentucky version of Brunswick Stew. No one knows how burgoo got its name. Some say it came from the bulgar porridge sailors used to eat; others say it is a contraction of barbecue and ragoût.

1 whole chicken breast (2 halves)

1 chicken thigh

1 chicken liver

11/2 lbs. boneless pork shoulder

6 cups cold water

1/2 lb. dried Great Northern beans, washed, sorted and soaked overnight in 2 cups cold water

2 large yellow onions, finely chopped

4 cups (1 quart) canned tomatoes (preferably home-canned), with their liquid

4 cups (1 quart) canned whole-kernel corn, well drained

4 cups (1 quart) canned greeen peas, well drained

2 tsps. salt, or to taste

1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste

4 tbls. (1/2 stick) butter

1. Place the chicken breast, thigh and liver, the pork and cold water in a heavy, nonractive 4-gallon kettle; set over moderately high heat and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water bubbles gently, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and refrigerate all pieces of chicken. Cover the kettle again and simmer the pork about 11/2 hours longer or until very tender.

2. Remove the skin and bones from the chicken, cut the meat into 1-inch chunks, then pulse quickly in a food processor until the texture of coarsely ground meat. (In the old days, the chicken was fed through a meat grinder.) When the pork is tender, cut into 1-inch chunks, then pulse just as you did the chicken. Also pulse the chicken liver.

3. Return the chicken, liver and pork to the kettle, add the beans and their soaking, ater, the onions, tomatoes and their liquid, the corn and the peas. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add the salt, pepper and butter, reduce the heat to its lowest point and simmer the burgoo uncovered for 31/2 to 4 hours, stirring occasionally, or utnil as thick as chili. Note: If an any time the burgoo threatens to stick to the bottom of the kettle, slide a heat diffuser underneath.

5. Taste the burgoo for salt and pepper, adjust as needed, then ladle into heated soup bowls.