13 April 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: 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.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this month's challenge. Brunswick Stew. Oh wow, where do I begin. A southerner myself, I'm no stranger Brunswick Stew, but it's never really done it for me. I've asked Hubby about his feelings on Brunswick Stew in the past, and he's never seemed thrilled by it either. So I was nervous about telling him what I had to make this month. And I was nervous about whether or not I would like it. 

I knew from the beginning that I'd have to make a few changes: no beans. I have no idea if I can buy lima or butterbeans here, but I knew if I included them in the stew Hubby might not eat it. And the recipe makes enough to feed 10-12 people, so we both needed to be able to eat it. So no beans. 

The recipe called for rabbit, which I really wanted to include, but I was unable to find it in our grocery. I checked in on what others were doing and discovered that a lot were using smoked turkey or ham shoulder. So I filed that into my brain. The next day at the grocery I found smoked turkey, but not ham shoulder, so smoked turkey it was. 

The day I made the stew was Good Friday. It's a holiday here in Germany, so the grocery stores were closed (Easter and Easter Monday, too). I was doing my usual day off Facebook check when I noticed the other American we know in town had unfortunately discovered too late that the stores were closed. So I invited him to join us, with hopes that another mouth would deplete the stew a bit faster. And he's a southerner too, so it seemed perfect! 

This particular stew takes the entire afternoon to prepare, but boy, it was worth it! Hubby and I both want me to make it again... and Jonathan enjoyed it too! 

1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Sunday Chicken Broth (recipe below)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ cups / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen
1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste

1-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.

2- 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, chilies, and rabbit. Set it aside.

3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the 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 about every 15 minutes to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. The stock may become 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.”

4- 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. 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.

5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to squirt juice straight up into the air or into your face. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans 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.

6- 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.

I served this particular treat with a side of White Lily white cornmeal cornbread. Oh my, yum. I followed the recipe on the back of the bag, except I increased the sugar to 1/3 cup because Hubby likes his cornbread on the sweeter side. I don't even like cornbread and the stuff was great! I'm beginning to think that I just don't like yellow corn products and only like white corn products. 

Rumor has it that when the stew is done, the spoon will stand up because the stew is so think. But don't confuse it with the broth. The broth is not thick at all, but it is delicious!

My random changes: No beans (of course), and I didn't have onions. Yikes. So I subbed onion powder and threw in the two shallots I had in the pantry. In my excitement to serve the stew, I completely forgot to add in the acid. So, I served that on the table for those who wanted it. Additionally, red wine vinegar doesn't sound very southern to me (mainly b/c I never used it growing up), so I used apple cider vinegar. And check out that picture of the corn! I just love that the frozen corn comes on a skewer!

Many thanks to Wolf of Wolf's Den for a great challenge! You made three expat southerners in Germany very happy. It was the perfect taste of home! 


  1. Glad you enjoyed your Brunswick Stew. Personally, I try to stay far, far away. I was told recently that it's basically vegetable soup with meat. Your cornbread did sound yummy!

  2. I feel so guilty! I haven't been able to do DC or DB for months.

  3. That corn looks like circus corn so funny. So great to hear that you enjoyed it so much and Jason and Jon!!! And your cornbread sounds delicious glad it went so well for you. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  4. Shock! You ate cornbread and liked it! I'm told up north they prefer white cornmeal over yellow. The flavor is much milder.

    Do you not normally like vegetable stew? I realize its different from Jason's stew but I had Brunswick Stew once in which it contained at least 2 kinds of meat(pork and beef, perhaps chicken too) but not as many vegetables as yours. Yay for being pleased with your cooking challenge!

  5. @ Aunt Vicki: This recipe IS just chicken soup with an extra meat and some veggies. I think a lot of bbq joints throw in some bbq sauce too, which completely changes the flavor. But I'll make this recipe again and again! (Thank you for letting me make such tasty cornbread!)

    @ Ninette: I'm sorry! I'm sure you'll find time again soon. I have noticed that the challenges have been quite time consuming lately!

    @ Audax: Thanks for visiting. I hope to live somewhere that I can try this stew with crocodile, too!

    @ Tabs: I like vegetable soups with a broth rather than tomato soup as a base. I think a lot of bbq places serve this stew with a tomato base and add sauce too. This recipe was much more direct and let the individual ingredients shine.

  6. That looks wonderful! The first time I had Brunswick stew was in Dahlonega, GA and your recipe sounds exactly like what I had. It was delicious. Good job.

  7. @ Helen: Thank you! I love Dahlonega! There is a Methodist youth camp near Dahlonega and we would always stop in the town on our way back to Tucker. So many happy memories!


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