Monday, February 7, 2022

Joey's Brunswick Stew


Have you ever heard of Brunswick Stew? 
Basically, it's a very thick tomato based stew, with lots of beans and vegetables, and usually several different kinds of meat. It's a very Southern BBQ type of thing, and back in the day, it was a way to use up leftover smoked meats, briskets, and such. The taste is a perfect combination of smokey, spicy, and just a little bit sweet.
 Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. (personally, I think I'll skip the squirrel and rabbit. ) A debate currently exists as to whether Brunswick Stew was actually originally made near the town of Brunswick, Georgia, or in Brunswick County in southern Virginia. The main difference between the Georgia and Virginia versions has been the types of meat used. The Virginia version tends to favor chicken as the primary meat, while the Georgia version tends to favor pork and beef. As there is no "official" recipe, some variations have chicken, pork, beef, and other types of meat, all in the same recipe. Pretty much everyone makes it the way they like it. So there are probably as many recipes for Brunswick Stew as there are recipes for Italian Sunday Gravy. Every house makes it the way they like it, using whatever they have on hand. 
 So guess what I did? The same thing I always do! I looked at several different recipes, decided what I liked from each one, and then made my own! I noticed that all the recipes seemed to have tomatoes, corn, and lima beans in them, and many have BBQ sauce or ketchup and a little shot of hot sauce too. It all sounds wonderful to me, so I was sure to include them. 
 Originally, I was thinking this would be the perfect thing to warm you up if you're out in the subfreezing weather, but then I thought this would also be a great thing to make for a Super Bowl Party or Olympics Watch Party, or any other choose your own TV Event party. How perfect is that? Instead of doing a pot of chili, how 'bout this instead? Bake up some corn bread muffins, or some buttermilk biscuits and you're good to go!  Oh, one more thing.. If you're a novice cook, this recipe is for you! All you do is dump everything into the pot and let it cook! Easy peasy! Hope you like it!
4 slices bacon, cut into lardons 
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large cans crushed or diced tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar 
1 cup of any favorite BBQ sauce 
1 tbs hot sauce, or to taste
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce 
1 tsp ground black pepper 
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cans cream style corn
2 cups whole kernel corn, yellow and/or white, fresh, canned, or frozen
2 cups lima beans, canned or frozen
2 cups diced carrots, fresh, canned, or frozen
2 cups peas, fresh, canned, or frozen
4 cups of stock, chicken, beef, vegetable, whatever you have
your choice of cooked meat, diced or shredded, as much as you like

Place bacon in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Slowly let the fat render for a good 5 minutes, giving it a stir every so often. Add the diced onion to the bacon. Saute until the onions begin to soften. Now add all the remaining ingredients. If you're using canned vegetables, no need to drain them. Just pour it all in. That's all there is to it! Increase the heat and bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat down to a simmer. Let it simmer for about an hour. Serve it with corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, or poured over a pile of fluffy mashed potatoes.

This is one of those stews that can go in any direction. Use whatever kinds of veggies you like, and add as much or little as you like of each kind. Instead of doing individual veggies like I did, you can just add a couple bags of mixed frozen veggies and call it a day. I just happened to have my own home canned veggies, so that's how I roll. Just be sure to include corn, lima beans, and tomatoes. They're the classics!
You can add diced potatoes, if you like, but I like the idea of serving it over a starch, like biscuits or mashed potatoes, but you do you! 
The one thing that makes this specifically a Brunswick Stew and not just any regular vegetable stew is the addition of BBQ sauce. It adds that hit of sweet smokiness that gives you a nice BBQ flavor. Basically all the other ingredients are negotiable.
Want to pump up the heat? Add crushed red pepper flakes, or a diced hot pepper of choice. 
Want to make it vegetarian? (Yes, that's actually a thing) Just leave the meat out and use a veggie stock.
Want it to be a little more smokey? Add a smoked ham hock or smoked meat of your choice. Or you could even just add a few drops of liquid smoke. 
This makes quite a pot of stew. Have fewer mouths to feed? Cut everything in half. Or just freeze half of it in containers! Giant crowd to feed? Double everything!

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