Tag Archives: Kentucky Food

Which Stew are You?

We’re giving away a copy of Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon this week and it inspired our Publicity Manager to reminisce about community stews and the gatherings where they were prepared. Enjoy a guest post that may make you hungry for more foodways history!


Burgoo’s Place in the Constellation of Community Stews

By Mack McCormick, Publicity Manager

Growing up in Alabama, Brunswick Stew was ubiquitous. You didn’t see many people make it at home, but it and barbecue were staples of community fundraisers. It was cooked outside in huge cast-iron pots and stirred with boat paddles. My parents still have the 30-gallon pot that my great-uncle used to make it. You could count on him having a batch almost every Saturday in the summer before he closed the country store in Suttle.

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Brunswick Stew being prepared in cast iron pots

Growing up close to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, I was also very familiar with Gumbos, whether file or okra, but I had never heard of Burgoo before moving to Kentucky in the mid 1990s. The first I sampled was at Mark’s Feed Store in Louisville, followed shortly after by Keeneland’s and many others since. It wasn’t until I began to work on Albert W. A. Schmid’s new book, Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon: A Kentucky Culinary Trinity, however, that I started to consider it within the larger tradition of regional community stews. Here are the highlights:

Irish Stew

Common wherever Irish settled, it can be nearly any variety of meat and root vegetable stew, but typically includes lamb or mutton.

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Irish Stew (Source: foodnetwork.com)

Mulligan Stew

A variation on Irish Stew that was made from any ingredients on hand, it became a common dish among hobos during the Great Depression.

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Cowboy Stew (Source: Pinterest)

Cowboy Stew

A variation on Mulligan Stew popularized in the West, it traditionally includes the internal organs of calves.

Burgoo

Kentucky’s contribution to community stews, Vice President of the United States Alben Barkley of Paducah said, “A ‘burgoo’ is a cross between a soup and a stew, and into the big iron cooking kettles go, as we sometimes say in Kentucky, a ‘numerosity’ of things—meat, chicken, vegetables, and lots of seasoning.”

Clam Chowder

Generally containing clams, broth, diced potatoes, onions, and celery, numerous regional varieties of chowder can be found along Atlantic seaboard. Delaware clam chowder includes pre-fried salt pork. Hatteras clam chowder is a spicier version from the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Manhattan clam chowder uses a tomato-based broth. New England (or Boston) clam chowder uses milk or cream.

Gumbo

Composed of a meat or shellfish, stock, a thickener (roux, okra, or filé powder), and the “holy trinity” of onion, celery, and bell peppers, it is most closely associated with southern Louisiana. The two main varieties are creole, which is thinner and has a tomato base, and Cajun, which is thicker and uses a roux.

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Booyah (Source: Wikipedia)

Booyah

Probably Belgian in origin and common in Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin, and Michigan, it traditionally can require up to two days and multiple cooks to prepare. Like Burgoo, Booyah can also refer to a social event surrounding the meal.

Let me know which ones I missed, and I’m also curious to hear from others about their memories of similar stews.

 


Stay tuned for burgoo recipes and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly giveaway of Burgoo, Barbecue, and Bourbon by Friday, May 27 at 1 pm!

Dough-Not forget the Doughnuts!

University Press of Kentucky National Doughnut Day

There’s only one way to celebrate National Doughnut Day, and we’re on top of it! Enjoy this recipe for Bourbon-Infused Orange Doughnuts from Bourbon Desserts by Lynn Marie Hulsman, and share with us your #NationalDoughnutDay celebratory confections!

Bourbon-Infused Orange Doughnuts

Makes 1 to 2 dozen

 I love orange-flavored baked goods. They’re such a refreshing change from more ubiquitous flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon. And this recipe, with the zingy fresh ginger, is a breath of fresh air. These doughnuts are hearty enough for winter, and can stand up to a cup of bold coffee, but also work well in warmer months, with the eye-brightening citrus note. For a fluffy doughnut that’s never greasy, make sure your oil is very hot (at least 365 degrees F). I like to make these in a very deep stockpot, with an extra-heavy, reinforced bottom. I’m not going to lie to you . . . frying these babies in lard brings a whole new nuance to decadent, but vegetable shortening or canola oil are fine alternatives.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Method:

Bourbon Desserts Lynn Marie Hulsman University Press of KentuckyIn a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and bourbon, stirring lightly with a fork.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs until light yellow, about 3 minutes. A little at a time, add sugar–orange zest mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Stir in the ginger.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, a little at a time, beating until just combined, about 2 or 3 minutes for each of 2 or 3 additions. Do not overmix, or you’ll have tough, flat doughnuts.

Using a fork, stir in the butter.

Line two 9 x 13-inch baking sheets with parchment and sprinkle them liberally with flour. (Don’t skimp!) Set one sheet aside.

Turn the dough onto the other sheet, and sprinkle flour over the top. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. If the dough is still wet, use more flour. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it’s well chilled, about 20 minutes.

While the cut doughnuts chill, gather up the dough scraps, and repeat the flattening and cutting process.

Once the dough is chilled, take it out of the freezer. Using a doughnut cutter (or a 3- to 3 1/2-inch drinking glass), cut out doughnut shapes. To cut out the holes, use your cutter (or an apple corer or the top of a small jar) to cut out circles of 1 inch in diameter.

Arrange the doughnuts and doughnut holes on the prepared sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 30 minutes, or cover and refrigerate overnight to fry the next morning.

When you’re ready to fry, put enough shortening into a deep-sided (but not wide) pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Clip a frying or candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil comes to 365 degrees F. Have several layers of brown paper ready for draining. (I use grocery bags.) Do not use paper towels, as the doughnuts will wind up limp and soggy.

Find the tools you’ll need for flipping and lifting the doughnuts out of the oil, and lay them to the side of the stove. Once you start frying dough, things happen fast!

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into a large, wide bowl and set it aside.

Once your oil is ready, carefully add a few doughnuts to the hot oil, leaving plenty of space in between. Work in small batches so that the oil temperature doesn’t decrease. Fry until one side is golden and crispy, about 1 minute. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, about 30 to 45 seconds.

When the doughnuts are done, set them on brown paper to drain for a few minutes. While they are still warm, lay each doughnut on top of the sugar, then flip the doughnut and set the uncoated side on a serving plate. Serve warm.

Store in a tightly lidded plastic container or tin for up to 5 days.

After The Fall of Saigon: Starting from Scratch in Kentucky

Fall of SaigonToday marks the 40th Anniversary of the Fall of Saigon, and the end of the Vietnam War. For many Vietnamese families who did not subscribe to the ruling Communist Party’s politics, the withdrawal of American forces also meant their own evacuation from the country they called ‘home.”Huong “CoCo” Tran was among those South Vietnamese civilians for whom Vietnam was no longer safe.

After fleeing her homeland, CoCo started her new life in Louisville, Kentucky. First, packing ice cream cones at the Derby Cone factory, then later, after a lucky break and a lot of hard work, as a restaurateur. A pioneer in the Louisville restaurant industry, she opened Egg Roll Machine—the first Chinese take-out restaurant in the city in 1980, Café Mimosa—the first Vietnamese restaurant in the city in 1986, Zen Garden—the first Asian vegetarian restaurant in the city in 1999, and Zen Tea House—Louisville’s first and only Asian tea house. Her newest ventures are Heart & Soy and Roots—also vegetarian. Flavors from Home - University Press of Kentucky

And though CoCo is unique, her story of courage, perseverance, and self-reinvention is not wholly uncommon. Each year, the United States legally resettles tens of thousands of refugees who have fled their homelands. As these individuals and their families struggle to adapt to a new culture, the kitchen often becomes one of the few places where they are able to return “home.” Preparing native cuisine is one way they can find comfort in an unfamiliar land, retain their customs, reconnect with their past, and preserve a sense of identity.

The following excerpt, from Flavors of Home: Refugees in Kentucky Share Their Stories and Comfort Foods, illuminates the aftermath of the Fall of Saigon through the eyes of a survivor who has redefined what it means to be a Kentuckian and an American.


Flavors from Home - University Press of Kentucky Coco Tran in her Roots and Heart & Soy kitchen

Huong “CoCo” Tran in the kitchen of her restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky.

On April 30, 1975, Communist troops from North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam invaded and overtook Saigon, ending the war and a century of Western influence. CoCo [Tran] found herself in the midst of a mob scene as she tried to make her way to a ferry and return to Saigon. Her older sister, who was unable to leave at the time, asked CoCo to escort her adopted eleven-year-old daughter to freedom and safety. CoCo still recalls, even thirty-odd years later, the horrific accident that occurred just hours after the child was entrusted to her care. With thousands of people fighting their way onto the ferry, CoCo and the young girl were pushed into the water as they boarded. CoCo surfaced. The child never did. CoCo spent the rest of the day and night frantically searching for the little girl. Eventually she had to return to Saigon—alone and defeated. (She never forgot the child and spent the next three decades trying to locate her. Finally, in 2008, she found her niece alive and well in Vietnam with two children of her own.)

Because of CoCo’s father’s politics, the family knew they were no longer safe in Vietnam. On May 2 CoCo and members of her extended family—twelve adults and six children—left Saigon with only some cash and some gold and an extra change of clothing. The only thing they knew for sure was that they would pay any price for freedom.

The family members staggered their individual departures to avoid arousing suspicion and reconnected near Long Hai beach, where American ships were supposed to be waiting to pick up refugees. No ships were in sight. The family negotiated with a fisherman, paying him to transport them on his small, poorly supplied fishing boat toward international waters. CoCo remembers how dark it was that first night at sea and how terrified she was, not knowing where they would end up or whether they would even survive another day. Finally, in the distance, they spotted a merchant ship. Just when they thought their luck had turned, the captain of the Taiwanese merchant ship demanded the exorbitant sum of $9,000 for food and transportation. They gave him everything they had and traveled from port to port, alongside cows and buffalo. They stopped at Thailand, Hong Kong, and Okinawa, but each port refused them entry. At the time, no official refugee program existed to support the people who were fleeing Vietnam. Without relatives or sponsors at these port cities, no country was willing to take in CoCo’s family.

Meanwhile, CoCo’s younger brother, Tran Thien Tran, was in America working tirelessly to find a way to help his stranded kin out on the open seas. He was living in Kentucky, attending the University of Louisville’s J. B. Speed School of Engineering. The family’s hope was that Tran could find them local sponsors so they could join him in the States. After thirty-six days at sea, the Trans finally got word that Taiwan would admit them, on the condition that they not stay on the island for an extended period. Back in the States, sponsoring groups from local churches and the University of Louisville, along with a few individual households, rallied to assist the Tran family.

A grainy photo from the Louisville Times shows a tearful CoCo giving her brother a long-awaited hug at Standiford Field airport. It is hard to reconcile this woman with the confident, relaxed, successful restaurateur sitting across from me now and smiling broadly, brown eyes shining behind maroon-rimmed glasses—the American Dream personified.

For more on the Vietnam War and the International Community in Kentucky: