Booyah is a thick chicken stew that many believe was created in Northeastern Wisconsin by Walloon Belgian settlers. Mary Ann Defnet, a respected historian of Walloon culture in Wisconsin explains the origin of the rather unusual word in a letter sent to K. Fleurant, who had suggested to a reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette that the origin was bouillir, the French word for to boil. Although variations of this dish are found in many cultures worldwide, the wonderfully hearty dish called "booyah" can only be found in Wisconsin.


1 lb. butter
25 lbs. chicken, cut in pieces and browned
5 lbs. beef, cubed and browned
5 lbs. onions browned with meat
5 lbs. celery, diced
5 lbs. carrots, diced
3 pecks potatoes, peeled and diced
5 lbs. shredded cabbage
5 lbs. fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup salt
4 teaspoons pepper
1 cup chopped parsley

The following may be added if desired

5 No. 2 cans whole kernel corn or equivalent of fresh cooked corn.
2 lbs. dried split peas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender
2 lbs. dried navy beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender.

After the meat is browned thoroughly, add seasoning and enough hot water to cook until tender. Remove chicken from bones and cut into cubes. Place all the meat in one very large container and add vegetables in the order given with reference to length of time for cooking each, with enough additional boiling water for cooking the mixture. Watch the mixture carefully to prevent sticking and burning.

Makes 25 gallons

Recipe thanks to Mrs. Mary Ann Defnet, Green Bay. Originally appeared in "Wisconsin's Folkways in Foods", 1948; Collection made by the Wisconsin Home Economics Association."

30 December 1997