Saturday, January 26, 2008

Weekend Food Blogging - Brunswick Stew

This is far from a dish that I am testing. It is a very old recipe that seems to be largely unknown outside of the middle Atlantic and Southern US. Since it is the middle of January and cold cold cold in these parts (Note that little homey touch) I thought that this would be the perfect weekend to hunker down and stir the stew pot.

Brunswick stew isn't so much stewlike as it resembles thick soup. One suspects in the early days, and perhaps in some parts still, this was made with squirrel or whatever varmint was easily available. These days it is mostly made with chicken. In fact it is a quite decent use for leftover rotisserie chicken from the local food mart. Anyway, this is an approximation of how I do it.

Take a chicken. Or chicken breasts. Cut it into stew-meat size pieces, maybe an inch and a half squarish. If raw, dredge in flour and brown the pieces. If pre-cooked, just leave it lying around. You'll use it soon enough.

Now what you're really going to do is to take a soup/stew pot, saute some onion, garlic, and green pepper if you like it. I don't. You know how to do this, over a medium heat until the onions are translucent. Now toss into that pot (Watch, I'll do this like a recipe)

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme which you should leave out if you hate it or use something else if you prefer
  • a crapload of freshly ground black pepper. You decide how much you like. I like a lot.
  • 1 of those big honking cans of tomatoes that you would use to make spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package of frozen lima beans -- I like the baby ones so they don't have that consistency that puts people off
  • 1 package of frozen corn -- I like white shoepeg but it is up to you

I didn't tell you what size package, did I? You can use the box size if you like tomatoes more. You can use a plastic bag size if you are trying to eat more veggies. Or you could see what is in the back of your freezer and use it up.

Oh, and throw in the chicken.

Simmer this for 45 minutes to an hour, take out that nasty bay leaf, and eat. I like it with cornbread but that's up to you.

(A real recipe would tell you to cook it with the chicken and put the veggies in later, but that seems too much like work. And now you know what I don't write cookbooks.)


Landru said...

Needs potatoes, there, Granny Sasha. And far fewer tomatoes. It's not freakin' chicken tomato soup.

I've actually looked into this (I can count on one hand the number of actual arguments I've had with Ilse, and one of them concerned the nature of Brunswick Stew, back before I did a little research and came to understand that Brunswick Stew is a big tent), and the variation in what people call Brunswick Stew is absolutely astonishing.

Sasha said...

Doesn't REQUIRE potatoes,fella. I suspect those guys there know better than either of us what it requires, actually. But yes, big tent is totally the answer.

Kimmah said...

I've never actually eaten Brunswick stew, but my mother is a fiend for the stuff. There's a great BBQ place in Chattanooga that sells is (Buck's). I'd never really seen a recipe for it--sounds like my kids might really enjoy it and I might not be too skeeved out by the presence of those vegetables in liquid, so I might just make some this week. Could I crock pot it you think? I couldn't really overcook it, could I?

Sasba said...

Absolutely. Just throw everything in and leave it. Lima beans always need to cook longer than you think anyway. And nothing in it will be harmed from neglect. See those three guys up there making it? I don't think they time it.

Jolene said...

How weird. This sounds almost exactly like soup I made the other day (it really was more soup than stew). Chicken, tomatoes, corn, lima beans (I was a weird kid who always loved lima beans), and I did in fact add potatoes.

I've never heard the term "Brunswick Stew", and as you well know, I am neither from the mid-Atlantic nor the South. Spooky.