The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
I had a hard time getting excited for this challenge. Not because I didn’t like the recipe – no, I thought the recipe looked great! I love a good stew. And this one seemed great, with all different kinds of meats and veggies, and so thick a spoon stands straight up in it! My problem with it is the fact that’s is 80 flipping degrees outside and I’m slaving over a stove-top making stew! For hours! I just had a hard time making myself complete this challenge. I just can’t do stew when the birds are chirping and the tulips are blooming. Which is probably why I waited until the night before the “Big Reveal” to make it! Whoops…
We were allowed to choose between two versions of the stew – a long version in which you make your own broth, and cook all the meats and veggies for hours. Or you could do the quick version in which everything is pre-cooked and all you do is throw it in a pot and heat it up. Even though I wanted to hurry up and cook this stew as fast as possible so I could go outside and play with my dogs, I decided that the quick version just wasn’t worthy of a Daring Cook’s Challenge. I mean, how challenging is cubing vegetables and warming up store bought chicken stock? Not very. So I decided to combine the short and long versions into my own “Slightly Quicker But Still Some Work Medium Version”. Traditionally, this stew is made with chicken, ham, and either squirrel or rabbit. However, my freezer seems to be out of squirrel or rabbit. I have some venison and a fish fillet or two, but no rabbit. I tried to find some around town, but only one place carried it, it was 45 minutes away, and freaking expensive. I pouted a bit (which is exactly what a girl who is seven months pregnant with freshly painted nails should do when she realizes that her game meat selection has vanished from her freezer), and after contemplating laying in wait for the raskilly rabbit who has been nibbling on my tulips, decided to substitute some turkey. It’ll have to do.
Serve this with Cornbread or over white rice or just in a bowl. I suggest you also look at other Daring Cook’s blogs. There are some great Brunswick Stews out there this month, everything ranging from simple stews, to vegan versions, substituting in mushrooms and game birds, and all kinds of yummy things (one even had Alligator!) ! Check out the Daring Cook’s Blog Roll or do a Google search!!
This stew was great, even if it was 80 degrees out! It is chock full of great flavor. Everything just melts together perfectly. This is definitely going to be one of my new favorite stews! But I think I'll make it when its a little colder out from now on! :)
· 4-5 strips slab bacon, rough diced
· ½ stick / 4 tablespoons / ¼ cup of butter
· 1 Tablespoon sugar
· 1 Tablespoon ‘Poultry Seasoning’
· Dash of red pepper
· 2 ½ lb TOTAL diced chicken, turkey (I used ground), and ham,
· 1 Tablespoon 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
· 5 Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
· 1 ½ cups carrots (about 3 medium carrots), chopped
· 3 ½ cups onion (about 3 medium onions) chopped
· 2.5 cups frozen corn kernels,
· 2 cups / 24.228oz butterbeans, fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or frozen
· 17.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
· ¼ cup red wine vinegar
· Tabasco sauce to taste
· Juice of 2 Lemons
1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I 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.
2- Season liberally both sides of the chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the meat 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. Set it aside. Repeat with Turkey.
3- 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, meat, 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 floating up, the celery will be very limp. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and turkey 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 and discard.
5 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.
6- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes and ham. 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.
7 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.