Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dining In: A Culinary Tour of America-Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

The Location: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Population as of 2013: 11,081. The estimate per capita income as of 2012 was $22,306, and the unemployment rate as of 2014 was 6.4%. I was unable to find a date for the racial make-up of the city, so I am not including it here, however it can be found in the sources I will provide at the end of the entry. Suffice it to say, the majority of people living in Lawrenceberg are white, with a very small minority of African Americans.

Lawrenceburg was first settled in the 1780's by Jacob Kaufman, a German immigrant. It is home to two large bourbon distilleries: the Four Roses distillery, and the Wild Turkey Bourbon distillery.

The city was also host to a small battle during the Civil War that took place on October 8, 1862. The Confederate Army captured 600 Union prisoners and took 58 Union wagons of supplies. The wagons were burned, though one would hope that they emptied them of any supplies first so they could be used for themselves...One would think they might have kept the wagons to be used for themselves as well, but apparently that was either not thought of or decided against. (I'm sorry, I told myself that I was going to remain judgement-free when I visited states that had major Civil War connections, but that's just stupid. Burning wagons that you could have used for your own side??? Possibly with supplies in them that could definitely have been of use to you? That's just dumb. These people totally would have lost Oregon Trail...But I digress...) In the long-run, however, the battle proved not to make a large difference to the greater war, for that waged on for another three years.

The Food: Burgoo

When I first started working on this project, I thought about certain dishes from particular areas that I had never tried before. Burgoo was one of the first things that came to mind for Kentucky. It's so unique to the area that people outside of the South, or outside of the foodie world have probably never heard of this dish. Burgoo, is simply, a stew. Meat, vegetables, and sauce, that's it. So, why this food and why this city, you might ask? And why go to Kentucky right now? Well, let me answer all of those for you in reverse order: The Kentucky Derby was this weekend, burgoo is one of the most popular foods eaten during this time, and Lawrenceburg has declared itself the burgoo capital of the world!

The point to burgoo is to add as many different types of meat as possible into it. Sorry vegans and vegetarians, this one is definitely one you'll need to skip. Beef, lamb, various small game animals, venison, and even rodents are all items generally included in burgoo. You can rest assured, however, that the one I made, was 100% rodent-free.

I also tried a new vegetable with this dish: okra. Okra has the stigma of being slimy and gross and many people dislike it. I found it to be rather bland in both flavor and texture, and definitely not worthy of the dislike. However, I used frozen, and perhaps fresh would make a difference with those things. Fresh is not readily available in my area, unfortunately, so frozen was the only form I could use.

I found a few recipes online to base mine off of, but I didn't follow any of them completely. I will write out what I did, however you will have to be patient with the fact that I didn't really measure stuff out. It's just one of those types of recipes...

Miss Foodie2shoes's 100% Rodent-Free Burgoo
1 turkey thigh(these can be bought any time of the year, not just at Thanksgiving)
1 chicken hindquarter(thigh and leg)
2 pork spare ribs
1.5 containers chicken broth
1 pkg. frozen okra(You'll only use a couple handfuls of this, so reserve the rest for another use.)
1pkg. frozen vegetable mix(try to get one that includes lima beans, as that is one of the important ingredients to burgoo. I found one with lima beans, green beans, peas, and carrots. This was perfect. Again, you'll only be using a few handfuls, for reserve the rest for another use.)
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small can pureed tomatoes(I used almost all of the can but I removed 1/4 cup for a recipe for later in the week. Use however much you like. You can also use chopped tomatoes if you prefer.)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1.5 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Combine the meat and half of the chicken broth and salt and pepper in a slow-cooker and cook over low heat for about 3 hours. Turn up to high heat and continue to cook for another 2 hours at least. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, carefully remove it from the slow-cooker. Turn off the slow-cooker and strain the liquid into a large pot on the stove. Remove skin and bones from the meat, and discard. Shred the meat into large chunks. Set aside to add to the soup later.

Let the broth sit for a while and try to spoon off as much grease as you can. When this is done, add the rest of the ingredients, except the meat, and heat on medium heat until the onions and garlic are cooked through. Add the meat and heat through before serving. I have no idea how many servings this makes, but it would probably serve at least six.

As you can see, I served this with cornbread on the side, which was the perfect accompaniment to it. Traditionally potatoes of some sort would be part of the soup. Because I knew I would most likely be freezing the leftovers, I chose to omit them, because it's my experience that potatoes don't freeze and thaw very well. The soup, which was thinner than the traditional stew, because I didn't thicken it, was incredibly filling. The potatoes probably weren't that needed, though they would have tasted nice. Consider it the low-carb option!

This soup was really rich, and pretty tasty! It was really garlicky, almost to the point of being too garlicky for my tastes. I might cut back on that if I make this again. The meat flavors all blended together, however, and I couldn't really tell one from the other. If you made this with beef and some other stuff, it would probably be more distinguished.

This was probably one of the easiest dishes I've done so far. I did like using the slow-cooker for the longest step of cooking the meat. Any time you can use a slow-cooker instead of the stove, you save energy, which is a very good thing!

If you want, you could enjoy a nice mint julep or some bourbon alongside your burgoo and cornbread. It would be a nice meal to eat whilst getting into the mood for the Kentucky Derby. Try it out for next year!


City map

City pic

Burgoo recipe

Burgoo recipe 2

Burgoo recipe 3

City info

More city info

Civil War info


  1. ...100% Rodent-Free... love that title!

  2. I just knew the vegetable you were talking about was going to be okra, couldn't figure out the recipe though. I've never heard of burgoo.