Monday, March 7, 2011

Brunswick stew (p. 432)

My reasoning for making Brunswick stew (p. 432) was different than my usual rather random recipe selection. Carol Porter is a newspaper columnist and blogger with this truly novel (and awesome) idea that she would post cookbooks, and then recipes from those cookbooks and let her readers decide which cookbooks she would cook from and which recipes she would cook out of each cookbook. An old edition of TJOC was one of her cookbooks of the week and Brunswick Stew was one of the winners. I thought it would be fun to see if the new editions version was the same as the older edition.

I've previously put off this recipe because it is SUPER long. If you have a copy of TJOC handy, look it up. It's not very welcoming.

To start, I browned chicken pieces. Now, TJOC insinuates that you should use bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces. The skin gets soggy and I hate digging around in a stew, trying to cut away from the chicken bone. I boned out all the chicken (thighs) and took the skin off.

I cooked onions and celery until they were just tender:

I added the chicken back into the pot, along with lima beans, tomatoes, barbecue sauce (homemade, of course), tomato puree, chicken stock, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and ground red pepper. It was at this point that I found out Josh hates lima beans. Now, I know most people seem to not like them but Josh HATES them. When he ate the finished product, he ended with a little pile of lima beans on the side of his dish.

The whole thing cooked for almost an hour. When the chicken was tender, I added in corn:

The whole thing cooked for about ten more minutes and I seasoned it with a few drops of Tabasco, a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, and a little more salt.

How was it?

Surprisingly good! I thought the stew was a bit odd because it did have a strong barbecue flavor at first but the flavors really mellowed (and melded) as it sat in the fridge. The stew was hearty and really tomato-y between the canned tomatoes, the barbecue sauce, and the tomato puree. It was absolutely divine with a few pieces of crusty bread. I would absolutely make this again. Although it looks like a really long recipe, it's quite easy and most of the ingredients are items you probably have on-hand. And give the poor lima bean another chance--it has a nice, creamy texture in the stew and is probably better than you remember.

Random facts:
  • There is a debate about where Brunswick stew actually originated with Brunswick County, Virginia, Brunswick, North Carolina, and Brunswick, Georgia all throwing their metaphorical hats in the ring (Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, p. 72)
  • Squirrel is the traditional meat in many Brunswick stews (Wikipedia, OCAFD, TJOC)
  • Brunswick stew is traditionally a side for barbecues (OCAFD, p. 72). That would account for the barbecue sauce!

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