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Cooking on the Go: Booya

A Warming One-Pot Dish Wisconsin Dish

Booyah Stew courtesy of Motor Bar & Restaurant

Wisconsin booya (also spelled “booyah”) is a stew made with more than one meat. Perhaps that’s a holdover from the days when hunters came home with a mixed bag and pooled everything in one pot. And combining meats definitely means a meld of mouthwatering goodness.

This meat-and-potatoes classic is so good that you might even be tempted to triumphantly exclaim “Booya!” when putting the finishing touches on it. It’s so much a part of Wisconsin culture that it’s served in restaurants and sports bars and at family reunions, tailgate parties, and other get-togethers. Cadott, Wisconsin, even has a Booya Festival every September.

Old-timers start with a whole stewing chicken, bone-in stew beef, and, perhaps, pork. It’s all cooked for hours, then de-boned before assembly of the booya begins. Then the pot is kept at a simmer for hours more. Expert booya chefs disagree on whether or not to add peas, but most agree that lemon and green beans are musts. Also important are sides of crackers and buttery Wisconsin cheese as well as some Wisconsin beer to wash it all down.

Forgive our shortcuts, made with the RV galley in mind. We’ve substituted turkey for the pork, which isn’t easily found in cans in supermarkets (though there are many online sources for it). Also, our recipe is sized for families, but you can easily modify it to make a cauldron-full for a crowd.

Booya Recipe

  • 1 small lemon
  • 10-ounce can chunk white and dark meat chicken
  • 10-ounce can roast beef in gravy
  • 10-ounce can chunk turkey OR 14-ounce can of pork
  • Chicken or beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon each crumbled dried thyme, rosemary, and sage
  • 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • Large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup sliced canned or fresh green beans
  • 1 cup diced canned or fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup green peas, thawed if frozen (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grate zest from the lemon rind, then ream the lemon to gather its juice and pulp. Remove its seeds and chop up its pulp. Drain and save the liquid from the canned meats and add enough broth to it so you have two cups of liquid in total. Break up meats with a fork and place in a three-quart pot with the lemon pulp and juice, broth, parsley, herbs, potatoes, onions, celery, green beans, tomatoes, and carrot. Bring everything to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat.

Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the peas to heat through. Add more broth and salt and pepper if necessary (note that the canned meats might already be highly salted, so taste your booya before adding more salt). Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with lemon zest. Serves 6.

Cooking-Method Variations

Slow Cooker: Assemble as above and cook for four to six hours on low, adding more broth if necessary. Stir in peas just to heat through.

Pressure Cooker: Assemble as above, bring to full pressure for three to four minutes, then let pressure return to normal on its own. Do not quick-cool. Stir in peas to heat through.