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Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew

I don’t remember the first time I made this stew, but it was years ago and is still in the top five of my favorites. It’s the stew I make when someone I love is not feeling well and it’s the stew I make when someone is in need of comfort. They say there’s proof chicken soup has healing power. This stew might have magic powers.

This is a refresh of one of our original posts and it’s definitely a recipe that is worthy of pulling back out. Chocked full of chicken along with butter beans, tomatoes, corn, potatoes and a touch of bacon – hearty but not heavy. It starts with chicken cooked in stock with sweet onion and celery until the chicken is tender. Then other layers of comforting goodness are added and simmered until the flavors meld together into something simply special.

This recipe makes a large batch but freezes beautifully. Like any great stew or soup it’s even better the next day. If you’re in a bit of a rush, pick up a roasted chicken and skip ahead! Start with the stock, reduce to intensify the flavor then add the remaining ingredients.

The recipe for Brunswick Stew dates back to the mid-late 1800s depending on which historical reference you believe. Some say it originated in Virginia, some swear it was Georgia but either way it is Southern and it is wonderful!

Brunswick Stew

For the chicken:

3-4 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts (bone-in, skin on adds more flavor to the stock)

1 large sweet onion, sliced, about 2 cups

3 celery stalks sliced, about 1-1/2 cups

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar

10-12 cups chicken stock

Place the chicken in a large stockpot along with the onions, celery, sugar, kosher salt, black pepper and cider or wine vinegar. Pour in enough chicken stock to just cover the chicken breasts.

Cook over medium heat until the stock comes to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the stockpot and continue simmering until the chicken is cooked through, about an hour. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the hot stock for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the stock and set aside to cool. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the bone and tear or cut it into bite-size pieces.

Raise the heat on the stock to medium and continue to cook until it has reduced by about ¼ to intensify the flavors.

For the stew:

3 cans butter beans, 14-15 ounces each, rinsed and drained

3 cans whole plum or chopped tomatoes, 14-15 ounces each

3-4 new potatoes, peeled and diced into bite-size pieces, about 2 cups

2 cans whole kernel corn, 14-15 ounces each, drained

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste

3 teaspoons sugar

3 slices bacon, chopped

3 cans cream corn, 14-15 ounces each

2 tablespoons flour

½ cup cold water

Add the butter beans, the tomatoes, (if you like a more robust tomato flavor add the liquid from the tomatoes), diced potatoes, and whole kernel corn to the stock. (The cream corn goes in later.)

If you’re using whole plum tomatoes, gently break them up in the stew. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes. While the stew is cooking, fry the bacon in a skillet until crisp.

Set aside to drain on a paper towel. Once the potatoes are tender, add the bacon and the cream corn to the stew.

Stir frequently to prevent the corn from sticking. In a small jar, mix the flour and cold water, shaking well to make sure there are no lumps.  Pour the mixture into the stew and cook for an additional 30 minutes. This additional cooking time gives the flour time to cook into the stew, slightly thickening and binding the liquid.  Add additional kosher salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Serves 8-10 easily.

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