Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew is a legendary food of the southeast, with origins dating back at least 200 years. Although the exact place of origin is hotly contested among southern states, it remains the quintessential symbol of home and is a staple at barbeques, church socials, picnics, and pretty much any gathering in many states. 

The people of Virginia contend that its origins stem from an 1828 political rally held for Andrew Jackson, where the host served up a giant batch of the stew, a favorite meal of his on hunting trips. In this version of history, the creation of Brunswick stew is attributed to Mr. Jimmy Matthews, the long-time cook of the rally’s host, Dr. Creed Haskins. According to Virginia lore, however, the stew was such a hit that it was copied and adapted extensively by the attendees of tat rally and quickly spread from county to county, and eventually across state lines.

In my version of the recipe, any type of wild game can be used. Usually the stew is made with venison, squirrel, or rabbit, but other wild game can be substituted as well. Overall, it’s a relatively simple dish to make, and a delicious meal can be created using small game or venison. The stew is very adaptable and forgiving, so it’s a great way to have fun experimenting with different game.

Brunswick Stew
2 lbs. meat cut into bite-sized pieces. (2 Rabbits, 4 Squirrels, 2 lbs. Venison)
Paprika, to taste
3 T. Flour
¼ c. Butter
3 c. Water
½ tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, including liquid.
1 pkg (10 oz.) frozen lima beans
2 c. whole kernel corn
2 medium onions, sliced
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

First season the meat (or meats) with paprika and set aside. Using a large saucepan or stock pot, heat the butter on medium to medium-high. Add the meat and brown on all sides, stirring constantly. Next add the sliced onions and green pepper, cooking until the onion is transparent.

When the onion is done, immediately add the water, tomatoes (include the liquid from the can), parsley, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Stir and raise the heat slightly to bring the mixture to a boil. When the stew has reached a full boil, lower the heat to simmer, cover the pot and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

At this point stir in the corn and lima beans and let simmer for another 20 minutes. Blend the 3 T. of flour with a little cold water and slowly stir the mixture into the stew. Make sure to add this a little at a time to avoid clumping. The purpose of the flour mixture is to thicken the soup into a true stew. Cook the stew for 10 more minutes. If you find the stew is too watery or hasn’t thickened properly, you can always leave the lid off of the pot for a while so it cooks down a bit.

Photo courtesy Joelogon


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