Northeast Wisconsin loves their Green Bay Booyah, a rich chicken and beef stew that’s made in massive batches outdoors to feed hungry crowds. If you’re hungry for something that sticks to your ribs, it’s time to try this regional recipe. It’s been a tradition at church picnics, county fairs, and VFW gatherings across Wisconsin, Michigan, and parts of Minnesota for decades.
Have you ever eaten booyah at a booyah? I have, and it’s so fun. On chilly fall days, giant kettles of piping hot, velvety booyah are made over an open fire and served up to the community at booyah events, to raise money and feed lots of hungry people. Get in line early, because they almost always run out!
That much booyah takes up to two days to make; some booyah cooks make elaborate charts to spread out the work evenly and keep things organized. It’s a community effort and a great way to work together, too. Everything is added to the pot at different times, resulting in one outstanding meal.
If you’re a big fan of bone broth, this soup is definitely for you. It uses short ribs and chicken to make the richest broth you’ve ever tasted, and it’s packed full of vegetables. I could live on booyah, it’s that delicious.
So grab your biggest pot and get to work! This authentic booyah recipe is made right on the stove, but I pared it down to feed a family instead of a whole town.
Already looking for a way to make a kettle of Booyah? Good for you! Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What is booyah?
A booyah can be the stew or the community event where you eat booyah. Not confusing at all, because you really can’t have one without the other!
Sometimes booyah is spelled booya, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou, but no matter what, it’s a filling, healthy stew made with chicken, beef, or pork and carrots, peas, cabbage, tomatoes, and potatoes. At least. It’s one of a handful of regional recipes that are made with what’s on hand, like Mulligan stew, gumbo, or burgoo.
Where did Booyah originate?
Booyah is believed to have origins in Belgium, and may come from the French word bouillon, for ‘broth;’ the way it’s pronounced is very similar to ‘booyah.’ But how Green Bay Booyah became Green Bay Booyah, well…
Back in 1976, a Green Bay teacher, Andrew Rentmeester, wanted to raise money for his school and came up with the idea of serving the Belgian dish, bouillon, at the event. He gathered up beef and chickens from the neighbors for the hearty stew. The news reporter who was covering the event scribbled down ‘booyah’ instead of bouillon—and the rest is booyah history!
What’s the difference between Booyah and chicken soup?
In case you’re wondering what the big deal is between the two, there are a number of ways that differentiate booyah from old-fashioned chicken soup:
- Booyah is cooked longer. The chicken breaks down into shreds, and becomes almost indistinguishable.
- Booyah also uses beef, and sometimes even pork is added. The gelatin inside the meat bones makes the soup so good for you, and gives the stew a silky texture.
- Vegetables, so many vegetables– get added to booyah. They’re just as important as the meat.
- Booyah is usually made in huge batches, rather than smaller pots.
- Both chicken soup and booyah are great for cold season, though!
How long does it take to make Green Bay Booyah?
I’ll admit that it’s a bit of a process to make authentic Booyah, but it’s worth it. You should reserve part of the day to make a good booyah.
The key step in the process is straining the cooked onions and celery out of the broth after the beef is cooked. That way the rich beef and chicken bone broth stays clear and the booyah stays bright and colorful once the cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes are added.
The onions and celery–they’ve given all they have to the stock; you can let them go.
Can you freeze Booyah?
If you have any leftovers, booyah freezes beautifully. Of course, if you wanted to send some in my direction, I wouldn’t say no…I’d say booyah!
Green Bay Booyah
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in short ribs, trimmed
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 onions finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery minced
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups shredded cabbage from 1 small head
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
- 8 ounces rutabaga peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1-2 small)
- 1 pound russet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 large)
- 3 carrots peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (1 lemon)
To cook the beef and chicken:
- Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In a large Dutch oven (at least 5 1/2 quarts) or stock pot, heat olive oil until just smoking. Brown beef all over, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Cook chicken until browned all over, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Reserve rendered fat in pot.
- Over medium-high heat, cook onions and celery in rendered fat until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in broth and bay leaves, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add back short ribs and chicken, and bring to boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is 175 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Remove chicken from pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard bones. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces. Cover and refrigerate chicken.
To make the stew:
- Continue cooking the stew until the beef is tender, about 60 to 75 minutes longer. Remove beef from pot. When beef is cool enough to handle, remove and discard fat and bones.
- Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot (see recipe notes).
- Add back shredded beef, cabbage, diced tomatoes and juice, rutabaga, potato, and carrots. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until all vegetables are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
- Stir in chicken, peas, and lemon juice until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.