Wednesday, April 14, 2010

brunswick stew

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.

Well, I'm exhausted, but must admit this stew is delicious!  I chose to make the long version, and it did take a long time.  I was really looking forward to using rabbit in the recipe as while I've had rabbit before, I've never cooked it myself.  However when I went to my grocery store, where I can usually find rabbit, there was none.  So I substituted pork.  While the pork worked very well with the chicken, I look forward to making this stew again with rabbit.

This stew has deep flavour and is very filling.  You only need serve it with a crust of bread and you've got it all:  beans, corn, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, onions... not to mention the pork and chicken.  I was a little concerned that the serrano chilies would make it too spicy for my boys, but there was no noticeable heat to the dish and the boys loved it!  

So while it took some time to prepare, it's a great dish to serve up on the weekend or when you can spare a few hours in the kitchen.  It keeps well too.

Apparently you are supposed to be able to stand a wooden spoon up in your brunswick stew... so... ta da!

Brunswick Stew

Estimated time-3-4 hours, longer if making the Sunday Chicken Broth, or your own stock from scratch.
Serves about 12

1/4 lb slab bacon, rough diced
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb rabbit, quartered, skinned
1 4-5lb chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
8-12 cups chicken broth
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
3 cups butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen (I used white lima beans)
1 35oz can / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 lemons
Tabasco sauce to taste


1.    In the largest stockpot you have, preferably a 10-12 qt or Dutch Oven, 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, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chilies. Toast the chilies until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

2.    Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit 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 and chilies, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chilies and rabbit. Set it aside.

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, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chilies 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 or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chilies. 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 rabbit 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, celery, chilies, bacon and discard.  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.

5.    Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up. 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.

6.    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. 


Jo said...

Great job on your challenge. Your stew looks delicious and really thick.

shelley c. said...

I used pork, too, but because I was too scared to try rabbit... :) Your stew looks so nice and thick and delicious. Glad it went over really well!!

Mess Maker said...

Thanks Jo and Shelley! While I found the stew to be a lot of work, it really was worth the effort. AND when my boys actually gobble it down, it's something that I'll probably make again. Plus I really am keen on trying it with rabbit next time. The few times I've had rabbit, I've enjoyed it... I've just never made it myself. Here's the perfect excuse!