Tag Archives: southern foods

Daring Cooks: Brunswick Stew

Being a native Texan is not the same as being from the South. Sometimes, I forget this. I was reminded when I saw the challenge for this month’s Daring Cooks – we were to make Brunswick Stew. I thought to myself “What the heck is Brunswick Stew?” Brunswick, to me, conjures up images of bowling gear. Obviously, they have nothing to do with one another.

Brunswick Stew, according to Wolf of Wolf’s Den (the host for this month’s challenge), Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact. However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned. The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more. Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia. In the early 20th Cent, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipe call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.” However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”

Well. Apparently, I’ve been under a rock my entire life, because I had no idea this dish existed, much less the importance it had. So, with Wolf’s direction, I set out to make a pot of stew last weekend. I left the recipe pretty much “as is”, except opted to leave out the rabbit out (I didn’t have time to stop by the one grocery near us that actually carries rabbit); instead I used a larger chicken to compensate. The resulting stew may have been lighter because of my change, but I certainly didn’t complain – it was bright, flavorful, and hearty. A perfect springtime stew, in my opinion. My only change for next time will be to make less of it – I opted to make the full recipe, so I have a LOT of leftovers.


Brunswick Stew, adapted from Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

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 (I used jalapenos)

1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned (I omitted this)

1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed (I used a 6 1/2 lb chicken)

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 chicken broth

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 / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped

2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears) (I used 16oz frozen corn kernels)

3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen (I used 16oz frozen lima beans)

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

In the largest stockpot you 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.

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, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

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 every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a 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”.

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. (I didn’t wish to strain in order to remove all of this, so I removed the celery, the bay leaves, most of the chiles, but I left the bacon.) 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.

Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up with your hands. 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. 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 mine with braised greens and white rice.) Serves about 12.


Filed under Budget-Friendly, Chicken, Turkey, and other Poultry, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Main Dishes, Soups

Summer Succotash

succotash grayAll summer, I have been striving to enjoy as much of the bounty of fresh, local produce available at farmer’s markets as possible. In fact, every time I visit, I get so excited, I come home with two to three tote bags full of produce. My purchases are usually near the limits of what we can consume in our household in a week. This means I need to invent ways to enjoy a large amount of produce. Succotash is a gorgeous way to enjoy a mix of summer’s best. Traditionally, it is made with lima beans and corn, and sometimes bell peppers and tomatoes. I’m not a fan of lima beans, but I love field peas, such as blackeyed peas, purple hull peas, and cream peas. I thought these would make a great substitute, and would add a wonderfully earthy flavor to the dish.

Also at the farmer’s market – succulent, sweet corn. This stuff was no comparison to that found in a normal grocery. Not one bit. This corn was so sweet, I was sneaking bites of it cut freshly from the cob. Along with some fresh sweet Hungarian wax peppers, plump, ripe tomatoes, and a serrano chile, this succotash was bursting with flavors of summer. Oh…not to mention the bacon. Because bacon makes everything better, right?

This is one of those “must-make” dishes for summer. I will definitely have to make it again before the farmer’s markets run dry, and I encourage you to do the same!

2 c fresh field peas, such as blackeyed peas (if you can’t find fresh, you can substitute frozen)

3 slices bacon, diced

1/2 onion, diced

1 Hungarian wax pepper, diced (can substitute a banana pepper or bell pepper, if you prefer)

1 serrano pepper, minced

3 ears of corn, kernels cut off

3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T butter

2 T chopped fresh parsley

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan, and add peas. Lower to a simmer, and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until peas are tender. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the liquid.

Heat a deep, heavy skillet, such as cast-iron, to medium heat. Add bacon, and saute until starting to crisp, and add onions and peppers. Saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add peas, and saute another minute or two. Add corn, saute 1 minute, and add tomatoes. Saute for another 2 minutes, just until flavors start to come together. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add butter. Stir until butter melts. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

Serves 4 as a side dish.


Filed under Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Side Dishes

Sautéed Fresh Okra with Jalapeños

075In case you haven’t already guessed, I am a native Texan. Born and raised. However, my parents are not. My mother spent most of her childhood in Washington, Montana, and Colorado, and my father grew up in the Denver area. No offense to them, but they have never truly understood the delight of certain southern and Texan foods. Biscuits and gravy? Dr. Pepper? Grits? Blackeyed peas? All foods I have grown to adore, but to my parents? These are strange foods that are, let’s say, just not among their favorites. Another food of controversy is okra, which I happen to love.

Most okra around here is served battered and deep-fried. Coming from a part of the country that deep-fries everything, including Coke, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and ice cream, that’s not much of a surprise. Not that I’m knocking fried okra. Believe me, I could eat bucketloads of this stuff. But when I pick up some fresh, whole okra pods from the farmer’s market, they usually beg for me to enjoy them in a simpler, (also healthier) way. A quick sauté in olive oil, garlic, and jalapeños produces crisp-tender okra pods that are bursting with flavor. The best part, in my opinion, is that preparing the okra in this manner allows the okra to cook without becoming slimy and mushy. (Both not positive attributes, unless you’re preparing a gumbo.) It also takes just a few minutes to prepare, making it an excellent last-minute side dish.

So excellent, in fact, you might be able to convert some non-okra-lovers!

2 T olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small jalapeño, sliced

1 lb fresh okra pods, rinsed and stems trimmed

Salt and pepper

Heat a large frying pan to medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat, only for a minute. Add garlic and sauté for a minute, and add jalapeños. Sauté for another minute or two, and add okra pods. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until okra pods are tender enough to pierce with a fork. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Serves 4, unless you really, really love okra, (like I do) and then it might serve 2.

Don’t forget! You only have until June 27, 2009 to enter your comments for your chance to win in my giveaway! Check it out!


Filed under Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Healthy Meals, Quick and Easy, Side Dishes, Vegetables, Vegetarian