Sailors in the Royal Navy back in the 1700s would have allotments of food they were entitled to as naval servants. Many days meat featured heavily on the menu, but there were days of no meat where the men would instead have burgoo, sometimes topped with molasses. The officers would get a bit of shaved nutmeg on top – quite the extravagance.
In the South, particularly in Kentucky, burgoo means a type of stew that’s often made with mutton. But, in the 18th century they would have had a different type of burgoo made of ground oats. The most basic form of burgoo is just oats and water, perhaps some fat or sugar added in. The dish evolved into a more savory dish over the centuries and the savory Southern version is still usually thickened with either ground oats or with cornmeal. Have a look at how the sailors’ burgoo was made and find out what else was in their meal rations in the video below.