22 May 2006
my mama's brunswick stew
Brunswick stew is good southern cooking. I think it's traditionally made with squirrel or rabbit or whatever you gone done shot in the woods out back, but I pretty much just stick with chicken. (and just for the record, I have never been hunting and prefer to get my meat all wrapped up in cellophane from the market.) I was always taught that Brunswick stew originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, though I recently learned this is a disputed claim— Brunswick, Georgia also calls itself the home of Brunswick stew. A heated debate, I'm sure.
It's a thick, hearty stew made from a tomato base with a good kick of red pepper. It's great in winter, but warmed two southern girls' insides this weekend as the early summer in New York seemed endlessly cool and rainy.
Here's my mama's recipe:
1 smallish chicken (or the equivalent parts)
12 oz. bottle of V-8
1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes
2-3 baking potatoes, chopped
1/2 bag frozen lima beans
1/2 bag frozen shoepeg corn
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper
Place the chicken parts in a large pot along with 2-3 stalks celery, 2 carrots, and 1/2 the onion (all roughly chopped). Add salt and pepper. Cover with water and cook 20-30 minutes until the chicken is just done. Remove the chicken. Cut the meat off the bone into bite-size pieces, set aside. Return the bones to the broth and continue cooking at high heat until the broth has reduced to about half.
Strain the broth, reserving the liquid and discarding the rest. Add the V-8 juice, the tomatoes (chopped) along with their liquid, 2-3 chopped carrots, 2 stalks chopped celery, the other half the onion, the potatoes, and the lima beans. Season with the cayenne (a couple good shakes or more if you like it spicy). Cook 30-45 minutes. The longer it cooks the mushier it gets. (I think mushy is good.) Add the corn and the chicken for the last 5-10 minutes. Season to taste.
You must eat corn bread with it. There is simply no other way. The stew is even better the next day and freezes well.
If you're not up for cooking, try to find Mrs. Fearnow's, which is made in Virgina though a bit difficult to find outside that venerated commonwealth. It looks like dog food coming out of the can, but sure does taste good. Great for camping, too.