Saturday, May 19, 2007

more on owensboro bbq

Well the Owensboro International BBQ Festival (I just love saying that... International) was awesome. I think Blessed Mother took second place in Mutton and second place in Burgoo.

Speaking of Owensboro delicacies... I was delighted to find that Mutton has a rather interesting Wikipedia entry for all of you out there who have no idea what it is. mmmm... Muttonnnn (my best Homer Simpson impersonation). Amongst all the details about sheep and types of sheep meat and where its found and yadda yadda yadda there is this wonderful note: "Barbecued mutton is also a speciality in some areas of the United States"... you got that right!

My delight escalated when I saw the following little note at the end of the article under "See also": "The city of Owensboro, Kentucky, which hosts a barbecue competition annually." Sweeeet.

Of course this led me to click on Wikipedia's link for Owensboro upon which the following note was found: "Owensboro considers itself the 'BBQ Capital of the world'; it holds its International BBQ festival and competition every second weekend in May."

Duh... on both counts.
uh... I mean... Cool! The BBQ Festival has its own link too!

Finally, Wikipedia has an entry for Burgoo as well, but I'm not very pleased. Exhibit A: "A good burgoo is said to be able to have a spoon stand up in it. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and other savory spices dominate much like in Cincinnati chili; however, nowadays it is typical to have a vinegar hot sauce or dry chili powder available for people to spice up their own bowl."

Uh...what? Just to keep the record straight it is in no way, by any stretch of the imagination, like anything resembling anything "like Cincinnati chili." What? You mean that crap from Skyline? Yukk!

But, do not despair. The entry provides a much more helpful link at the end. There you will find the following wonderful information, after a brief definition and history:

The center of the burgoo universe is Owensboro, Kentucky. Owensboro is about
mid-way between Cincinnati, OH and St. Louis, MO on the Ohio River. The largest
city in western Kentucky, Owensboro is known as "The Bar-B-Q Capital of the
World" This is due, in part, to the world renowned International Bar-B-Q
Festival held on the Riverfront each May on the Friday and Saturday before
Mother's Day. As part of the festival teams from charitable organizations,
churches or businesses compete to be named the best. During the festival over
1,500 GALLONS of burgoo will be served up, by the cup (with a slice of white
bread) or by the gallon (wide-mouth glass or plastic jar). You will also find
live entertainment, a midway with rides and games, arts and crafts as well as
other foods.

*NOTE* with "a slice of bread"? no way man

Many area Catholic churches have annual picnics during the summer months. People travel for miles to their favorite picnics. My family's favorite is held in Rome, KY. Church volunteers will spend HOURS cooking and setting up. Most picnics sell burgoo by the cup, gallon or you can get full meals. Other events at these picnics include Cake Wheels, Ring Tosses, Bingo, Rummage / bake Sales and lots of socializing. There are plenty of Bar-B-Q restaurants to choose from in the Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois (TriState) area. Naturally most of them are located in Owensboro.
*NOTE* This is so true. The best place to find the best Burgoo is at a church picnic. Here also the author lists a few restaurants, but the two most notable are Moonlite and Old Hickory.
Moonlite is the most famous one and attracts any famous people in the area who have gotten a whif of Owensboro's BBQ fame. But, as is always the case, the locals know better. Don't get me wrong, Moonlite is awesome (order online here!), but no one beats Old Hickory. Period. Early last weak I walked into Old Hickory with Amy (my brother Nick's girlfriend) to pick up some Mutton and potato salad for lunch with the family. I could smell it before I even walked in... ask Amy... I was jumping up and down with excitement!

A final helpful note:

What do you eat with burgoo?
Most often you would have mutton (barbecued sheep/lamb). Western Kentucky has a large number of sheep farms which keep the supply and price relatively reasonable. The mutton is often in the form of a sandwich, either sliced or finely chopped. Mutton sandwiches are best topped with dill pickle and onion slices. Usually they are served on hamburger buns or white bread. Cole slaw and potato salad are also in high demand. Not the bland, boring and beige potato served in the Northern sections of the US, but spicy potato salad with relish, boiled eggs and mustard
There ya have it folks. A little leg work by yours truly to spead the gospel on Owensboro BBQ. I'm going home in a couple weeks for my younger brother's Bachelor's Party and I will certainly be bringing a pound of chopped mutton, a pound of sliced mutton, pickles and onions, and a quart of burgoo back to the parish. The small staff at St. Jerome in Fairdale and St. Mary in Hillview wait with bated breath... as do I.


Amy M. said...

He's not lying, I had to stabilize him at some points so he wouldn't bounce into the ceiling. ;-)

Laura H. said...

The more you talk about this BBQ the more I can't believe I didn't even TRY some while I was there.. for what? Four days? Five days? *shakes head* Sad, sad, sad. (Kick Nick for me, will ya?)

bunnytel said...

Hi, I am from the other side of the burgoo universe (Arenzville, IL) but am a fan of all things burgoo. I agree with your remarks about the Wikipedia defintion (where DO they get this fanicful list of ingredients?!). I'm making a burgoo road trip this month to check out the cuisine of the Anderson County burgoomeisters, and I wondered if there might be an opportunity to take in a parish picnic burgoo in the Owensboro area. Do you know if there are any such event scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 27-28? I'd appreciate knowing how to locate one.

Matt1618 said...

I'm glad you asked bunnytel! Here is a list of the parish picnics for the rest of 2008:
Sept 20, Noon, St. Stephen Cathedral, Owensboro
Sept 20, 4pm, Christ the King, Madisonville
Sept 23, Noon, St. Thomas More, Paducah
Sept 27, 3pm, Immaculate, Owensboro
Sept 26-27, Holy Name Fall Festival, Henderson
Sept 28, St. Leo, Murray
Sept 28, 11am, St. Mary of the Woods, Whitesville
Check out the Diocese of Owensboro's website at for parish contact information
God Bless you, be sure you post back here and let me know how much fun you had!