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.
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.
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.”