Poor Artie. No wonder he did not want a fourth bowl.

So I finally looked up what Burgoo actually is. Turns out it is a Kentucky (and neighboring state) thing. It is also a bit of a Stone Soup thing. When you don't have enough of any one thing to make a meal, you throw it all into the stew pot and hope it turns out edible.

Oh, these days there are carefully repeated recipes, to make sure it turns out edible each time. But back in the day... WAY back... Burgoo was survival food for long winters when game was scarce and all you had left in the pantry and root cellar were shriveled potatoes, your least favorite kind of beans that you grew every year because they produced better than the kinds you loved, and corn. Dry corn, that is. Not sweet corn. Cook for hours and hope it softens nicely, corn. Or grind it into meal and throw it in as thickener, corn.

The versions that have survived have retained one major defining characteristic.

They contain at least three kinds of meat. Three kinds that are NOT usually used together. We are not talking about bacon and chicken. Or pork and shrimp.

We are talking about squirrel. Rabbit. Pheasant. Mutton. Pork (generally salt pork). Venison (any kind).

Pick three. Or four. Thinking they'll taste good together is not helpful here.

You read the recipe, and it is only as you realize that this is a Stone Soup type meal, that you understand that it may come out amazing, or repulsive, depending on what goes in, and what is done to it.

Creativity is not only permitted, it is REQUIRED. Because you are down to having only a few things left in the cupboard.

You hope you have onions, maybe some garlic. You hope you have some tomatoes - they seem to sort of enhance whatever is in the soup. Dried tomatoes are fine, in those days it would have been dried. Then canned - stuck in the root cellars in quart jars, probably open kettled so you expect to lose a few jars over the winter, and just hope it isn't that last jar when you really need it because it is all that is left - a swollen lid on that would be cause for grief indeed.

All those unharmonious meat flavors. Only one thing to do - Well, the tomatoes and onions always help! But not enough with squirrel, and rabbit, and venison (just a little dried left or you'd have made the whole soup with it), ALL in the same pot.

You have to cook it until the flavors meld. Well, the recipes now call for that. Then it may just have been that you made a big pot, hoped for the best, and treated it like Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold. Maybe you just hung it on the hook over the fire and swung it off for night, and on for a while before the next meal.

But you have a better stew if you cook it well. Of course the potatoes just about completely dissolve, but that just thickens it nicely. The meat goes all to string, and the beans soften and fall apart. The tomatoes carmelize, and add a darkness to the already darkened overcooked meat flavors.

The problem with cooking things a long time is that the flavors DO darken and deepen. Meat takes on a kind of strongish tone, and the top edges and the stew on the bottom of the pot tend to develop very done bits, if not outright burned. It does reach a point where it can burn very easily, even if you are adding water regularly. Or it can just end up tasting overcooked, but not quite burnt. Like you pulled it off almost but not quite in the nick of time.

Burgoo then, could be a good hearty meal of stew. Or it could be an unmitigated disaster that punishes your taste buds.

Recipes now are written to ensure you get the former.

We are guessing Artie got the latter.