Brunswick stew is a traditional and classic dish which is popular in the American South. The origin of the dish is not certain, but there are two competing claims as to the place in the South where it originated, in addition to some claim to a German origin. In some parts of the South (particularly the Carolinas), it is also known as "hash", and served over rice.
A classic Brunswick stew is an exceptional dish made with tomato base and includes different variety of meats, chopped bell pepper, lima beans, okra and corn. It is garnished with fresh thyme sprigs for enhancing its flavours and taste.
Developed in 19th-century Virginia, this stew originally included squirrel meat. Although traditional Brunswick stew is sometimes thickened with stale bread cubes, there are some versions which also add flour to give the stew body, dense and nice smooth texture and best served with garlic bread on the side.
Generally the Brunswick stew (soup) is a traditional favourite for large get-togethers, is chock full of hearty meats and vegetable along with spices making the stew vibrant, colourful and luscious.The Brunswick stew is traditionally cooked in a heavy cast iron pot. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients.
Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste. Eastern North Carolina Brunswick stew has potatoes, which thickens it considerably. Eastern Virginia Brunswick stew tends to be thinner, with more tomato flavour and less smoky flavour. Brunswick stew can also be served as a soup. The stew essentially resembles a very thick vegetable soup with meat. The key distinguishing factor between soup and Brunswick stew is the consistency.
Brunswick stew must be thick; otherwise, it would be vegetable soup with meat added. Most variations have more meat and vegetables than liquid. If you are really bored of making the usual regular stews such as mutton stew, vegetable stew, fish stew, lasagne stew or chicken stew, than the Brunswick stew would really be a delightful delicious dish changer.
History states that the original Brunswick Stew, according to Brunswick County historians, was created in 1828 by a black chef, “Uncle” Jimmy Matthews. As the story goes, Dr. Creed Haskings, of Mount Donum on the Nottoway River and a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years, took several friends on a hunting expedition.
While the group hunted, Jimmy Matthews, Dr. Haskin’s camp cook, hunted squirrel for the evening meal. Matthews slowly stewed the squirrels with butter, onions, stale bread and seasoning in a large iron pot. While the hunting party returned they were reluctant to try the new, thick concoction but, one taste convinced them to ask for more.
Since that time, Brunswick Stew has been prepared by many different stew masters and they continue to produce large batches of the “Virginia ambrosia” for church functions, local fund raisers, family reunions, and political rallies. While Jimmy Matthews’ recipe for Brunswick stew has varied through the years - chicken has been substituted for squirrel and vegetables have been added - the exceptional taste and commitment to quality has never been lost.
The main differences between the Georgia and Virginia versions have been the types of meat used. The Virginia version tends to favour chicken as the primary meat, along with rabbit. The Georgia version tends to favour pork and beef along with squirrel.
As there is no "official" recipe for Brunswick stew, it is possible to find chicken, pork, beef, and other types of meat included in the same recipe. North Carolina natives have been known for their own unique concoction, similarly thick and tomato based, using chicken-breast chunks and pulled Eastern North Carolina–style barbecue (pork) as the meat.
For preparing this scrumptious Brunswick stew, In a large heavy kettle heat bacon fat and add onions. Sauté until lightly browned. Dust beef with 1 tablespoon of flour add to kettle along with chicken and brown. Add the ham cold water salt black and red pepper and thyme.
Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours covered or until meat is tender. Remove meats from stock and strain stock. Skim any excess fat from stock and return to kettle. Remove chicken from bones discard skin and cut into bite size pieces.
Return meats to kettle adding all remaining ingredients except for okra beans and parsley. Bring to boil and simmer covered for 45 minutes. Add okra and beans and cook for 15 minutes longer. Garnish with fresh parsley. Brunswick stew is refreshing, appetizing and scrumptious to eat. It makes a great nutritious and healthy meal to the whole family.
For detailed recipe, click below:
In most areas where Brunswick stew is sold for fundraising, it is cooked in large iron pots over open flame or gas. Unlike soup, the stew is usually allowed to simmer and cook for long periods of time. This may be attributed to the older tradition of putting game meats into the stew, which might require a longer cooking time to ensure that the meats were tender.