I’ve discovered a new favorite stew! It’s called Chicken Booyah and hails from the Fox River Valley — Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Today, I attended an author’s brown bag at work. The book in question was “The Flavor of Wisconsin” featuring one of the book’s authors, Terese Allen. The event organizer suggested we all bring a dish to pass, so I bought the book at our campus bookstore and began to thumb through, looking for something I might like to make & take. I stumbled across Chicken Booyah which I had never heard of but there are several locations on the web with a variety of historical notes having to do with Belgian immigrants arriving in northeastern Wisconsin in 1853, bringing with them their culinary traditions and their own pronunciations. The recipe I made last night came from the book and contains chicken and beef with 9 different vegetables, some lemon and some soy sauce. Other recipes I looked at online add pork, too. The soup-stew is historically cooked in very large batches outside over an open fire and over an extended period, making it an ideal candidate for a crock-pot. Which is exactly what I did last night — prepared the stew and eventually popped it into a crock-pot on low overnight. We had a lovely lunch and discussion about the variety of foods that have blended over the past couple of centuries into what might be called a Wisconsin culinary tradition.
Wisconsin, it seems, is much more than beer, brats and cheese.
And the book is more than a cookbook. It’s a historical document full of great old photographs, local stories from all over the state, and of course recipes (460), but the first 170 pages chronicle the history of culinary traditions brought by the many groups of immigrants representing many ethnic groups coming to Wisconsin since the first trappers wandered through in the 1600s. So, now Chicken Booyah will join my recipe box of favorite foods. One of the great things about winter in Wisconsin is the satisfying warmth of stews, soups and chowders eaten with fresh bread and salad near a fireplace while watching flakes float down outside. Yum.