By Dan Horstman
It’s time to round up the kettles. Every year near harvest time, the members of the St. Philip Men’s Club gather to prepare and sell their famous burgoo. This year’s sale is Sept. 23, and the reputation of the soupy concoction has spread far and wide.
Burgoo has been simmering annually at St. Philip for over 50 years. It’s been the primary fund-raiser of the Men’s Club since 1958; before then, it was cooked at the church’s annual summer social.
The church’s men’s club owns a 750 gallon kettle but 20 more kettles are needed to cook the 1200+ gallons of burgoo the club dishes out each year. Farmers used to loan the kettles they used for rendering lard and cooking liver sausage. Now the Men’s Club have all their own kettles which were purchased at various times.
St. Philip’s burgoo (either BUR-go or bur-GOO, depending on who is talking) is composed of chicken and beef, carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbage, tomato juice, canned corn, navy beans, butter beans, pepper, salt, sugar and allspice. This list of ingredients is as much as the cooks will divulge. The exact seasoning and amount of ingredients is secret. The secret to making good burgoo is—-making it good.
The burgoo tastes the same every year, unlike burgoo made during frontier times, when every meat and vegetable available was thrown into the pot. We don’t change any ingredients.
Most of the meat and vegetables are bought now, whereas years ago parishioners donated most of the chicken, beef and vegetables.
Each year preparations begin on Friday evening. The meat is stewed and the vegetables are washed, peeled and ground. The guys work through the night. Early Saturday morning volunteers set up all the kettles and clean them, take the chicken off the bones and grind it and the stewed beef. They then carefully parcel the ingredients to be added to each of the 21 kettles lined up in the back of the church. The actual cooking begins around 11 p.m. after the meat and vegetables have been added along with the cloth bags containing the spices and the secret ingredient. Burgoo veterans have their jobs down pat. Some grind cabbage and vegetables, some stew the meats and others run the automatic potato peeler.
The large kettle is equipped with an automatic stirring device, but it’s an all night vigil with the smaller kettles. It isn’t difficult finding volunteers because the event has turned into a social affair. There is no discrimination—-teenagers, children and friends of club members offer their assistance. The volunteers stir until early Sunday morning when the burgoo is ready for sale.
The burgoo sells fast and is usually gone before noon except for the soup that is held back to be sold in the cafeteria. The Men’s Club would like to make more but they can handle making only so much.
Dan Horstman, publicity chairman for the club, says that this is the sort of project that builds relationships and fellowship and brings about a spirit of cooperation and working together. St. Philip is a close-knit parish with hard working members.
The response to the burgoo has been great with people coming from Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and other places to get the famous St. Philip Burgoo.
To sweeten the day, a raffle will climax the event at 1:30 p.m. The grand prize of $20,000 and 20 other prizes will be given away. The tickets are $20 donation for each ticket with only 3,000 tickets being sold. You need not be present to win. (License# 126135)
The sale of burgoo begins at 7:30a.m. Drive thru and carry-out patrons should bring their own containers or one can be purchased for a small fee.
A lunch of burgoo, hamburgers, pie and drinks is sold in the St. Philip Center during the sale of burgoo outside. Volunteers help in the dining room, too.
St. Philip is located 6 miles west of Evansville on St. Philip Road or West on the Lloyd Expressway to the St. Philip Road sign.
By Dan Horstman
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