Wisconsin Booyah


The traditional hunter’s stew evolved into Wisconsin Booyah, and it still feeds hungry sports fans on wintry gamedays in Green Bay.

The name is likely a corruption of the French-Canadian bouillon (“broth”) or even bouillabaisse, possibly even of Belgian origin, with the specific etymology lost over the centuries. However, its nature is simple and not at all unique: an adaptable and nonspecific stew for the colder months cooked slowly and served in large quantities, filled with root vegetables, simple seasonings and whatever meat is available.

The particular secret for this dish is to start with prepared chicken stock and enhance the flavor even more. Beef short ribs and chicken thighs are well-browned before going into a stock made even more flavorful with a few aromatics. Any small game could work equally as well, including turkey, duck or pork (even better if smoked). These additions, especially of the meat on the bone, provide most of the seasoning and particular essence for the even more potent liquid base.

Given this stock-plus, the solids consist of autumnal root vegetables such as potato, carrot, turnip or rutabaga along with some cabbage that almost melts away during the simmer. Tomatoes are added for a further flavor-building step (note the lack of herbs or additional spices). It finishes with a pop of color in a few frozen green peas and the acidic brightness of a juiced lemon.

This dish is often prepared for church fundraisers, VFW gatherings or cooking contests, as it only improves with volume and time. Enjoy with crisp oyster crackers.

Wisconsin Booyah

1 lb beef short ribs, trimmed
1 lb chicken thighs, trimmed
14.5-oz can tomatoes (diced)
4 c chicken stock
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
2 c cabbage, shredded
1 rutabaga, peeled and diced
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 carrot, sliced
½ c green peas (frozen)
1 lemon (juice)
bay leaf
olive oil
black pepper

1 In a little oil over medium-high heat, brown the ribs on all sides then remove and set aside. In the same pot, brown the chicken on all sides then remove and set aside (discard the skin).

2 With the rendered fat, sauté the onions and celery until soft, about 5 min. Stir in the broth and bay leaf, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom.

3 Add the ribs and chicken and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered. Remove the chicken when cooked through (after 30 min), and the beef when tender (after 60 min).

4 Strain the stock and discard the solids. Let the broth settle about 5 min, then skim off the fat and return the liquid to the pot.

5 Add the cabbage, tomatoes, rutabaga, potato and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 30 min.

6 Shred the beef and chicken, and add to the pot with the peas and lemon juice. Season to taste.


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