While experts debate the origins of Brunswick Stew between Virginia and Georgia, my family might be closer to the truth. For as long as I can remember, and believe me that's a very long time, Brunswick Stew has always been the meal that follows a huge afternoon bar-b-q regardless of the location. As much a part of the Southern Tradition as fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, is the thriftiness involved in Southern foods and Brunswick Stew is just another example of wasting nothing.
Southern hospitality requires that no one leave the table hungry and the result is always leftovers. Hence, the stew pot - usually a cast iron dutch oven. Into it goes the remaining bar-b-q pork and chicken, pulled from the bone. Plates of sliced tomatoes and onions are tossed in. Leftover corn is cut from the cob and added, a jar of home-canned tomatoes tenderizes and moistens while the addition of butter beans serves as a thickener. Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce give it a traditional, Southern "kick". The concoction is given a good stir, covered and left to rest on the hot grill as the embers diminish over a number of hours. Some time, into the evening, it is announced that there is stew for anyone who is again hungry. It's an informal sort of thing; some helping themselves, some not. Always, there is a great deal of left over "leftovers" and the pot is carried to the kitchen to be refrigerated and served to family the following day.
The Brunswick Stew I remember and make is never exactly the same from one time to another but it's always close and the difference doesn't seen to be a "better or worse" kind of thing. Sometimes I make it using the pre-cooked meats of a bar-b-q. Other times, I start from scratch, with Brunswick Stew as my actual goal, which only adds the step of cooking chicken and pork in the oven or crock pot before actually starting the stew. BRUNSWICK STEW
- 6-8 cups of pre-cooked & boned chicken and/or pork or both
- 1 large onion - coarsely chopped
- 1 quart of canned tomatoes - undrained
- 1 can butter beans - drained
- 1 can creamed corn
- 1 can whole kernel corn - drained
- Salt to taste
- Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce - added a little at a time until the flavor suits
- Bar-b-q sauce - add 1/2 cup if you are not using previously sauced meats
A couple of things to remember are:
- It is a slow cooking process - a crock pot works well for this - 8 to 12 hours works for me.
- The final product should have solids and liquids evenly incorporated into a semi-stringy (sounds terrible, doesn't it?) but wonderfully tender mass.
- The butter beans, tomatoes & onions should be more or less indefinable, with the crunch of corn present.
- The bar-b-q taste should be subtle but "there" (a little goes a long way).
- The Tabasco or hot sauce should be present but not hot.
- I have never known anyone to add potatoes, although, if the result is not thick enough, some instant mashed potatoes sprinkled in will do the trick.