Brunswick Stewart (I finally found the recipe!)

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew is classic Southern fare, the origins of the sturdy soup contested feverishly in the South. Did the recipe originate in Brunswick County, Va., Brunswick County, N.C. or Brunswick, Ga.? Loyal to our next-door neighbor state, my Alabama mother was certain its naissance was Brunswick, Ga., and she made Brunswick Stew often when I was a child.

First I poach a fat, juicy roaster with assorted aromatics.

I’ve never made the soup until now and mined the internet for recipes. What I found gave pause… copious amounts of ketchup and/or barbecue sauce were used in most recipes to thicken the broth. I’m sure my mother didn’t do that, but I can’t find her recipe. Digging deeper, I found recipes that claimed authenticity and didn’t include ketchup, but they did include squirrel. I’m not talking just one recipe; all of the recipes purporting to be authentic included squirrel.

Make it a really good wish.

We’ve got some plump little critters that have been using our cable line for dental floss after robbing the bird feeder, and it may not take much to tempt my husband…hey now! You know I’m just kidding! But you see my dilemma.

So here’s my  version of Brunswick Stew, which substitutes chicken for squirrel, spices for ketchup, and the frozen vegetables I used were a fine substitute for fresh. I do remember my mother poached a chicken and used the reduced stock as a base for the soup, which I did in the following recipe.This makes a big batch loaded with vegetables, potatoes and chicken; leftovers are a bonus.

Update five years from when this recipe was originally penned: I’m visiting my Alabama family this week and my sister-in-law found Mama’s original recipe card.  Here are the additions, and I’ve updated the recipe.

For Brunswick Stewart (as Mama calls it, our family name is Stewart), any smoked meat or shredded pork may be substituted for the chicken. This is revolutionary, to me–stir in 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce to the finished recipe. Here’s how she finished her recipe: “Stir in your favorite barbecue sauce to taste into the finished stew. Then,  remove some for old folks and children, and  have at it with Tabasco.”

Recipe: Brunswick Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 pound) roaster, giblets removed
  • Bay leaves
  • Peppercorns
  • Garlic cloves, halved
  • Dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary or oregano
  • Several pieces of celery, cut in half
  • 1 (16-ounce) canned diced plum tomatoes, juice included
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 large yukon golds, cut into 1 inch chunks (3 cups)
  • 3 cups frozen Fordhook lima beans
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups frozen sliced okra
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Tabasco

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, place the chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic, herbs and celery, and add enough water to cover two inches. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, until the chicken can be pulled from the bone, 1 1/2-2 hours, depending on heat of the simmer. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and cool.
  2. Remove chicken from the carcass; shred and reserve. Return bones to pot. Over high heat, reduce stock until it has reduced and is well-flavored, 1-2 hours. (At this point you could refrigerate the stock, then skim the fat after it has risen to the top. However, some prefer keeping the fat in for flavor.) Strain bones and aromatics from stock.
  3. Add tomatoes and onion to clarified stock and simmer over low heat 1 hour.
  4. Combine sugar, vinegar, mustard and Worcestershire and stir into soup. Add potatoes and lima beans and simmer until just tender, about 20 minutes. In the last few minutes of cooking time, add corn and okra and return chicken to the pot. Season with barbecue sauce, Tabasco, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Pass the Tabasco.

Poach Time: 60-90 minutes

Stock Reduce Time: 1-3 hours

Active Time: 30 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

 

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