Saturday, December 24, 2011

Brunswick Stew - A Hearty, One-Pot Chicken Stew

From 2009-2011 I lived in Virginia. During my two years in one of the oldest states, I was introduced to a one pot meal that I had never heard of previously; brunswick stew. Upon eating and enjoying brunswick stew once or twice with a few of my native Virginia friends, I consulted my mother to ask if she had ever heard of this dish. Surprisingly she said, "Sure, that's something they ate in old colonial Williamsburg. I've got the Williamsburg cook book which I am pretty sure includes a recipe for brunswick stew."

It wasn't until I graduated and moved away from Virginia that I found myself craving brunswick stew. So I decided to do some googling and found a few recipes that sounded familiar to what I had eaten. Searching around the house, I found variations of most of the ingredients required, and after a quick trip to the grocery store I was ready to begin the process of making my first brunswick stew. I was a little skeptical of how it would turn out, after all, the ingredients seemed too simple to create the same tasty flavor which I had experienced during my first few encounters with brunswick stew in Virginia. To my delight and surprise, the stew came out so well that I wouldn't even tweek the recipe for the next time I make it!

Brunswick Stew
Makes approximately 6 main servings

Ingredients
1 split chicken breast, skin on
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups of frozen baby lima beans
2 cups of frozen corn
3 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
Water or chicken stock
1-2 cups frozen chopped okra (optional)

Directions
1. Place chicken in a pot and just cover with water (or stock)
2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook chicken on a low heat for 2-3 hours until tender and falling off bone
3.  Remove chicken and set aside to cool
4.  Add onion and chopped tomatoes to broth, bring to a boil and start reducing broth if necessary
5.  When onions are soft, add potatoes
6.  When potatoes are tender, add tomato sauce, baby lima beans, corn, and pepper, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer
7.  Remove chicken skin and bones, shred chicken breast, and add back to stew (you can adjust the amount of chicken you add back to the pan; try to balance the amount of chicken with the amount of vegetables)
8.  The stew should be pretty thick, but if it's not, it can be simmered for a little while longer until it reduces