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Hearty comfort food at its Midwestern best, this Booyah Stew is a chicken and beef stew is a fan-favorite that deserves the starring role as part of your potluck or tailgate menu.

Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.

In the Midwest, especially in prime Packer territory of Northeast Wisconsin, it’s common to find a giant kettles of piping hot, velvety booyah simmering over an open fire on chilly fall days. “Green Bay Booyah” or Booyah Stew is a staple at community at booyah fundraisers, as part of tailgate menus, and beyond.

But now that I’ve perfected a homemade stew recipe inspired by that beloved booyah, you can live anywhere in the world and still savor this comfort food dinner idea.

While the exact origin story of Booyah Stew is hazy, the dish seems to have roots in Belgium. Its name, though, likely comes from the French word bouillon, for “broth;” the way it’s pronounced is very similar to “booyah.”

As far as the Wisconsin connection goes, back in 1906, 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 since then, the state (and beyond) has been graced with one of the heartiest stews possible.

Sometimes booyah is spelled booya, bouja, boulyaw, or bouyou, but no matter what, it’s a protein-rich, vegetable-packed stew made with chicken, beef, or pork and carrots, peas, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes, and more. It’s one of a handful of regional recipes that are made with what’s on hand, like Mulligan stew, gumbo, or burgoo.

Admittedly, Booyah Stew is a labor of love. But the chicken and short rib beef broth (sounds wild; tastes wildly delicious!) makes this comfort food recipe unlike any other chicken stew or beef stew you’ve spooned.

So grab your biggest pot and get to work! No live fire required. My twist on classic Booyah Stew recipe is made right on the stove, and I pared it down to feed a family (with enough for leftovers) instead of a whole town.

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Step-by-step instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Recipe FAQs
  6. Booyah Stew Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled ingredients for booyah stew.

At a Glance: Here is a quick snapshot of what ingredients are in this recipe.
Please see the recipe card below for specific quantities.

Ingredient notes

  • Bone-in short ribs and chicken thighs: The bones lend a thick, luscious consistency to the homemade broth. After cooking the beef, be sure to remove any extraneous cartilage before shredding; leaving that in can make some bites too chewy to consume.
  • Chicken broth: You’ll need 8 cups of chicken broth, which is about 4 small cans or 2 large cartons of store-bought. You have my full permission to snag some at the supermarket, since you’ll be stoking the flavor with more umami from chicken thighs and short ribs as part of the process for this Booyah Stew. But if you’re really feeling ambitious, feel free to start with Homemade Chicken Broth.
  • Rutabaga: Not a fan of this root vegetable? Leave it out and add an extra potato.
  • Lemon wedges: These are optional, but highly recommended; squeeze on just prior to serving for a welcome burst of acidity and brightness. If you have any fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro floating around, feel free to toss those on as a garnish as well.

Step-by-step instructions

To make the broth:

  1. Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot (at least 5 ½ quarts), heat olive oil until just smoking. Add beef and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot and set aside. 
Short ribs being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. Add the chicken to the pot and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Do not drain fat from pot.
Chicken thighs being cooked in a Dutch oven.
  1. In the Dutch oven or stock pot, reheat rendered fat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and celery, and cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Celery and onion cooking in a Dutch oven.
  1. 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.
Chicken thighs being removed from Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.
  1. 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.
Chicken thigh remnants on a baking sheet after meat has been removed.
  1. Continue cooking the stew until the beef is tender, about 75 to 90 minutes longer. Remove beef from pot. When beef is cool enough to handle, remove and discard fat, bones, and any inedible connective tissue. 
Short rib remnants on a baking sheet after meat has been picked off of bones.
  1. Strain broth through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids.
Booyah stew being strained over a clear bowl.
  1. Allow liquid to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and return liquid to pot (expect 1-2 cups of fat).
Fat being skimmed off of the top of a brown bowl of liquid.

To make the stew:

  1. To the pot with the broth, add the 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. 
Booyah stew in a Dutch oven before being cooked.
  1. Add chicken and peas and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh lemon wedges if desired.
Booyah stew in a Dutch oven.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe will make about 5 quarts (20 cups!) of stew, enough for 10 generous 2-cup servings.
  • Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Make ahead: The broth can be (and in a perfect world, would be) made a day or two in advance. It’s much easier to scrape excess fat off the top of the broth when it’s chilled.
  • Freezer: Booyah is ideal for freezing because it’s labor-intensive AND makes a giant batch. Make it once and enjoy it again later! Cool and package into freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Booyah stew in a white bowl.

Recipe FAQs

You suggest skimming the fat in Step 8. How do I skim the fat from broth, exactly?

To remove the fat from the broth, you can spoon it off the top of the broth or use a fat separator. Or, if you have the time, refrigerator the strained broth for 8 hours or overnight (store the beef, chicken, and vegetables covered in the refrigerator). The next day, the fat will have risen to the top and hardened and can be easily removed. Proceed with the stew, adding the shredded beef and vegetables to the broth while reheating it.

Should I wash my raw chicken thighs?

The CDC (and I!) recommend that you never wash chicken, as this can splatter raw chicken juices onto your sink and any nearby surfaces. There’s no need to wash poultry before cooking, but do pat it dry for a solid sear.

What is the best way to shred the chicken and beef?

No special equipment is necessary. Simply place the cooked protein in a clean cutting board, then use two forks (backs facing each other) to pull the meat in separate directions until you have bite-sized pieces. Discard any pieces of gristle, connective tissue, cartilage, or fat.

More Midwestern favorites

Booyah stew in a blue Dutch oven.

Booyah Stew

Hearty comfort food at its midwestern best, this Booyah Stew is a chicken and beef stew that deserves the starring role as part of your potluck or tailgate menu.
4.95 from 19 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 10 servings (2 cups each)
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Belgian, Wisconsin
Calories 457

Ingredients 

For the broth:

  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in short ribs trimmed (see note 1)
  • 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs coarsely chopped
  • 8 cups chicken broth (see note 2)
  • 2 bay leaves

For the stew:

  • 4 cups cabbage shredded (from 1 small head)
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes undrained
  • 8 ounces rutabaga peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1-2 small, see note 3)
  • 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
  • lemon juice for serving, optional (see note 4)

Instructions 

To make the broth:

  • Pat beef and chicken dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • In a large Dutch oven or stock pot (at least 5 ½ quarts), heat olive oil until just smoking. Add beef and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot and set aside. 
  • Add the chicken to the pot and cook, flipping occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from pot set aside. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin. Do not drain fat from pot.
  • In the Dutch oven or stock pot, reheat rendered fat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and celery, and cook 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.
  • Continue cooking the stew until the beef is tender, about 75 to 90 minutes longer. Remove beef from pot. When beef is cool enough to handle, remove and discard fat, bones, and any inedible connective tissue. 
  • 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 (expect 1-2 cups of fat; see note 3).

To make the stew:

  • To the pot with the broth, add the 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. 
  • Add chicken and peas and cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with fresh lemon wedges if desired.

Recipe Video

Notes

  1. Bone-in short ribs and chicken thighs: The bones lend a thick, luscious consistency to the homemade broth. After cooking the beef, be sure to remove any extraneous cartilage before shredding; leaving that in can make some bites too chewy to consume.
  2. Chicken broth: You’ll need 8 cups of chicken broth, which is about 4 small cans or 2 large cartons of store-bought. If you’re really feeling ambitious, feel free to start with Homemade Chicken Broth.
  3. Rutabaga: Not a fan of this root vegetable? Leave it out and add an extra potato.
  4. Lemon wedges: These are optional, but highly recommended; squeeze on just prior to serving for a welcome burst of acidity and brightness.
  5. Yield: This recipe will make about 5 quarts (20 cups!) of stew, enough for 10 generous 2-cup servings.
  6. Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  7. Make ahead: The broth can be made a day or two in advance. It’s much easier to scrape excess fat off the top of the broth when it’s chilled.
  8. Freezer: Cool and package into freezer-safe containers. Label, date, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cupsCalories: 457kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 35gFat: 26gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 143mgSodium: 847mgPotassium: 1098mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 3313IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 4mg
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Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. 4 out of 5 Stars! A key to great Booyah is the seasoning – which is lacking with most recipes. I created my own blend of Savory Seasoning, then added two additional spices – white pepper and ?? – some things are meant to be kept secret! In order to create a traditional 24-hour Booyah, I used a whole roaster to create the broth, I then simmered Oxtail, Beef Short Ribs, and Beef shanks for 4 hours to add another layer of flavor to the broth. I reserved the water from the beef, and refrigerated it over night, then took the cold fat off the top to reveal a beautiful, gelatinous beef stock, which I then added back to the Booyah for another layer of flavor! Thanks for sharing – Booyah is now in my seasonal rotation!4 stars

  2. I’m 66 and born and raised in Green Bay. I attended Catholic school from 1st to 8th grade. Parishes scheduled their summer picnics on different Sunday’s throughout the summer and my sister and I when in our 20’s & 30’s visited most of them with our children for booyah, games, raffles and the dessert tent.
    As a child attending a large Catholic school I remember watching the men making the booyah behind the school in 3 huge propped up barrels with wood burning underneath.
    I am so glad in your memo you mentioned cooking on a wood fire because that is the true flavor of every parishes booyah back in the day before electric kettle cooking started. Every parishes booyah had a little different twist but the smokey flavor was constant in all of them. You look a little too young to maybe remember that. I noticed in your recipe it is omitted.
    To get the smokey flavor in the kitchen small batch my husband slow grills the stewing chicken several hours adding plenty of apple wood. The next day I simmer the entire whole chicken in 1 gallon of water with the celery and onion, 1 tsp black coarse ground pepper for 3-4 hours with bubbles barely appearing on the surface, kinda like a crock pot cooking on the high setting for the same amount of time. Remove the chicken and continue with your recipe adding the cold deboned chicken after potatoes are done and the stove is turned off.
    No need to remove grease because there isn’t any. The fat is rendered during the grilling.
    Total cooking time in stock pot is 8-9 hours. The church started theirs about 3 a.m.
    And always much more chicken then pork and beef. They also left the bones in which made it messy to eat and unsafe as it was a choking hazard.5 stars

  3. We used snapping turtle for our booyah cookouts compliments of my Polish grandfather.
    Try pronouncing bouillon in Polish. Bool-yun!

  4. The word “Booyah” comes from the Kewaunee/Door county Waloon pronunciation of the very old, classic French preparation called, “Bouillon” (roughly translated to “boiled stuff”.)
    While this recipe looks totally legit, I have to raise an eyebrow at the lack of (that much-maligned kitchen shortcut) chicken and beef bouillon cubes*! They contribute a (somewhat unnatural?) flavor that I think is really key to achieving the genuine flavor of what you’d get from one of those large aluminum stock pots at a church-carnival or kermis!
    -C
    *Both “booyah” and “bouillion” have both been around way longer than the aluminum-wrapped soup-base cubes. Booyah is not named after bouillon cubes. Both booyah and the cubes are named for French bouillon.

  5. Family has been making Booya (Booyah) for generations. The story about the Belgiums making Booya are correct but I would not hold swear the true true origins or variations that it originated from there (Can’t be proven). It has been around in many form and names over centuries. The Rentmeester clan might have had a shool function and it was spelled differently but they are not the creators of the soup.

    “Back in 1976, a Green Bay teacher, Andrew Rentmeester”. Churches and other organizations have been making Booya for centuries upon decades in the world.

    1. I’m from green bay wisc, and I grew up with booya in the 60’s always ate that at the county fair . . was told a bunch of ladies would make chicken soup at home and bring it to the county fair and dump that soup into a huge pot and MIX IT ALTOGETHER, sometimes it would taste great, and then there were times it tasted horrible, LOL

  6. The combination of flavors from the thighs and ribs plus the rutabaga, makes this unique with a rich depth of flavor. I made 12 quarts and the longer it sat, the better it tasted. Regard this as a stew on steroids. A definite keeper.5 stars

  7. This is an interesting variation of beef vegetable soup. I made this into more of a soup using the same amount of meat – hence soup, not stew. Anyway, I ended up with 12 quarts. I get carried away. 4-cups of shredded cabbage from a small head, to me, means the whole head. I go from there with the rest of the ingredients. Frozen peas – the whole one pound bag, 96 ounces of broth, etc. It happens……… The only thing I added was instead of the second onion, I used two medium leeks because I like their flavor profile and used organic “smart” chicken which has superior flavor and texture.

    Regardless whether soup or stew like – made for 8 or 128, this is damn delicious!5 stars

  8. I’ve been threatening to make this for sometime and now with the NorCal weather being mostly cold and snow, I’m definitively making this tomorrow.5 stars