The number of recipes for Brunswick Stew are as numerous as the number of cooks you ask. Like barbecue, the origin is also debated. Brunswick, Ga, claims to be the birthplace, Brunswick County in Virginia does as well. And then there's the Brunswick Islands of North Carolina. Whereever it started, it started with folks making it in big black kettles, using whatever they had, and was often divided up between families who contributed what they had. It is similar to a Kentucky Burgoo, which often includes veal or lamb.
I grew up on it in North Carolina, where it was almost always served as a side dish to barbecue. It is served just about everywhere in the south, and that of course leads to debates on what it is and who does it best. I've got recipes from Alabama, Georgia, both Carolinas and even one from up way up north.
Some of the old-timers will say it's not Brunswick stew unless it has squirrel or rabbit in it. I don't cook with those meats, although I've tried both. It's easy to understand how they got added in though. Brunswick stew originated from poor southerners, who subsisted on whatever they had.
The meats used in the recipes I've seen include beef (chuck),chicken, pork (ham, butt or loin), rabbit, squirrel, and even goat.
Vegetables I've seen included are tomatos, corn, onions, bell peppers, potatos, and lima beans. However, due to the fact that it was often made with whatever was on hand, it is not uncommon to find green beans, pea, carrots, okra or other vegetables in a Brunswick stew.
Like barbecue hash, I make my Brunswick stew with
meat that I have already smoked. You can use any cooked pork, beef or chicken, but I really find the smoke flavor, especially in the chicken, takes the stew to a whole different level.
Here's a link to Virginia's claim to the birthplace of Brunswick Stew, with the earliest known recipe.
1 pound chopped or shredded pork butt
1 pound chopped or shredded chicken
1 pound beef chuck roast, shredded
1 large onion, chopped
28 oz crushed or diced tomatos, with juice
8 oz (1 small can) of tomato paste
10 oz lima beans, frozen or canned
15 oz of cream style corn
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 oz hot sauce (Texas Pete is traditional in my house)
1 oz Worcestershire sauce
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbls black pepper
2 tbls salt
1/2 tbls Dried red pepper flakes
Note that I use meat that is already cooked. If you are using raw meats, you can throw them in a big pot of dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the meat is falling apart. Remove bones and other undesirables. After the meat is cooled, shred or chop it up.
Add all ingrediants into a pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours. Everything should start to blend together. Stir frequently, as this will keep the meat from sticking to the bottom, and will help break up the ingrediants.
Check seasonings and add to taste. Brunswick stew freezes well, but let the stew cool before popping in the fridge or freezer. It can sour
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