According to Wolf, “Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact.
However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned. The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more.
Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia.
In the early 20th Cent, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipe call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.”
However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”
The first recipe is more traditional – long and involved, as can be many Southern recipes. The second was the very first Brunswick stew I ever tasted. Both are fairly straight forward and easy, requiring no special equipment, techniques, or super hard to find ingredients.”
Recipe Source(s)- I’ve included two different recipes for this Challenge, out of the hundreds of variations out there. The first is from “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee”, and the second from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, who hand out cards with their recipe printed on them, every year at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival, and where I tried my first ever Brunswick Stew.
Blog Checking Lines- The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
Variations allowed- Recipes may be halved if you choose. You may substitute any vegetables you don’t prefer. You may use fresh, canned or frozen vegetables. My variations are included in the notes. For example- some recipes include okra in their stew, others use creamed corn. You may sub out the rabbit for pork, turkey, beef, or even another game animal if you have it available.
Mandatory- You must use one of the two recipes provided. Now, to not exclude our vegans/vegetarians, if you’d like, use vegetable stock and leave out the meats. It won’t be a ‘true’ Brunswick Stew, but it’ll have the spirit of one.} There’s no gluten anywhere in this that I’m aware of, so we’re good in that regard.
Recipe Two, The Short Way-
Brunswick Stew recipe from the Callaway, Va Ruritan Club, served yearly at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Va.
Serves about 10
2 ½ pounds combination diced stewed chicken, turkey, and ham, with broth – yes, all three meats
3 medium diced potatoes
2 medium ripe crushed tomatoes
2 medium diced onions
3 cups frozen corn
1 ½ cups frozen lima beans I just don’t do lima beans!
4-5 strips crumbled bacon
4 tablespoons of butter
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon Poultry Seasoning
Dash of red pepper
2 diced carrots (optional)
- In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.
- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.
- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
- Add in your onion, butter beans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butter beans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
- You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.
Recipe2-In large stock pot or Dutch Oven, mix all ingredients, heat until bubbly and hot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add tomato juice as desired. Cook until all vegetables are tender. Serve hot.
Optional- Not required for the Challenge-but I always make my own broth!
Sunday Chicken Broth
From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
Makes about 1 quart (4 cups or 919.68 grams or 32.303 oz)
Estimated Time- 1 ¼ hours
Bones and trimmings, but not giblets, of one 3 ½- 4 ½ lb (1594.32-2049.84 grams or 56-72 oz) chicken, or 12-14 oz / 341.64-398.58 grams / approx. 2 cups chicken bones and trimmings
1 large onion, trimmed, peeled, quartered
6 large stems fresh flat leaf parsley
1 stalk celery, cut into 2” lengths
2 large bay leaves
5 cups / 1149.6 grams / 40.379 oz cold water
1 cup / 229.92 grams / 8.076oz crisp dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Place bones/trimmings in medium stockpot and add onion, parsley, celery and bay leaves. Add wine and water, liquid should cover all ingredients, if not, add more until it does. Bring to vigorous simmer over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer gently for roughly 45 minutes to an hour, skimming any scum or fat that comes to the surface.
Strain broth into bowl through fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Measure what you are left with, if not planning to further reduce, then salt and pepper to taste.
Store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator until the remaining fat congeals on the top. Remove the fat, and unless not using within 2 days, keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator. Otherwise, freeze, and it will keep for upwards of a month.