When I was a kid, we got the best Brunswick Stew from the volunteer fire department. They would make it and sell it as a fund raiser. I don’t know how often they did it, but it wasn’t often enough!
There really are no right or wrong for Brunswick Stew. Typically, it should be tomato based and have onions, corn, okra and lima beans in it. Lots of folks say that it has to have squirrel or rabbit meat in it, but chicken, pork and beef are becoming more common ingredients.
Brunswick, Georgia, Brunswick County, North Carolina and Brunswick County, Virginia all claim the origins of the stew. A plaque on an old iron pot in Brunswick, Georgia says that the first bowl of Brunswick Stew was made in that pot on July 2, 1898. The most plausible story, to me, is the way it is told in Brunswick County, Virginia, In 1828, Dr. Creed Haskins, a member of the Virginia legislature, asked for a special squirrel stew from “Uncle Jimmy” Matthews to feed folks attending his political rally for reelection. There are other claims that it originated in Germany.
Mrs. Fearnow’s is the best store bought brand of canned Brunswick stew. In the 1920′s Mrs. Lillie Pearl Fearnow began making her stew on Hope Farm in Virginia. It is still made with that very same recipe, now owned by Bost Distributing Company.
The recipe that I have for Brunswick Stew came from a friend of mine who got the recipe from her Grandmother. The Grandmother received the recipe from the Fearnow family in Mechanicsville, Virginia when she was in grade school. The only thing I do different is to add okra. I always thought it was strange that this recipe doesn’t have okra in it. Could have just been a family preference not to have it.
1 pound chicken, fryer pieces, with skin
3 quarts water
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 pound lean ham, lean, diced
1/2 C all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 diced red pepper
1/2 yellow onion diced
1/2 stick of butter
2 pints tomatoes (canned diced stewed)
1 pint lima beans
4 large Irish potatoes, diced
1 pint corn, frozen or fresh
1 whole dried bay leaf
Using first 4 incredients: cut up a pound of Chicken and put it in a large pan with three quarts of water, 1/2 large onion, one half pound of lean ham, and simmer gently for two hours. This creates the essential stock for the stew.
Remove chicken skin and bones.
Place butter in heavy stew pot on medium.
Add second half of onion diced, diced red pepper, salt and pepper to make a rue.
Stir in two pints of tomatoes, one pint of lima beans, four large Irish potatoes diced, one pint of corn, reduce to simmer.
Add meats and stock to stew pot.
Cover and simmer for one more hour.
Remove bay leaf