Brunswick Stew From a Georgia Cook
I acquired a taste for Brunswick stew after becoming an adult. I love soup recipes, so I’m not sure why it took me so long to appreciate this hearty, homemade soup...stew. What’s the difference in soup and stew? I suppose it depends on how thick the mixture is, as stews are generally thicker and heartier than soups are. I suppose with Brunswick stew recipes, it could go either way. Most of us southerners like ours thick, but it’s easy to turn it into soup by adding more liquid. I’m actually simmering a big pot of the tasty stew now, as I type. We’ve been having some cold, dreary weather, so I’ve been using a lot of my soup recipes. Believe me – you’ll have a hard time finding a more rib-sticking, warming, and satisfying soup or stew than this Brunswick stew recipe, and it’s a great way to use leftover meats. You can use practically any type of meat or poultry, or even wild game. In fact, that’s what the original version contained. Most modern versions, however, use pulled pork, ground beef, and/or chicken. If you want to make some of the best stew you’ve ever tasted, check out this original recipe for Brunswick stew!
How To Make Brunswick Stew
Learning how to make this dish is easy! It’s easier if you use meats that are already cooked, along with canned or frozen veggies. In my opinion, you need to include barbecued or smoked pork – and lots of it. That’s what really “makes” the stew. The ground beef and the shredded chicken make nice additions, but it’s the pulled pork and the barbecue sauce that provide the signature flavor.
I use several different versions of this recipe, but I’d have to say that the one I include in this article is my all-time favorite. We eat this every week without getting tired of it. According to my taste buds, it has just the right amount of sweetness, heat, spiciness, and savory flavors. It’s got lots of meat in it, too, so you can easily make a meal of it.
Your tastes are most likely different than mine, but making my version will give you a good idea about how to get started. Once you taste the results, you can tweak the ingredients so the stew will be more to your liking. Of course, I think it’s perfect already!
Rate my recipe. Thanks a bunch!
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, chopped or diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, with liquid
- 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup bottled barbecue sauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup Louisiana hot sauce, (use more or less)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 tablespoons prepared mustard
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon Liquid Smoke
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 15-ounce can Leseur tiny green peas, with liquid
- 20-ounce tube frozen McKenzie's creamed white corn, thawed
- 15-ounce can green baby limas, with liquid
- 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, with liquid
- 1 - 2 cups cooked diced potatoes
- 2 pounds pulled pork barbecue
- 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
- salt, to taste
- Cook ground beef and onion in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until almost done. Add garlic and cook for one minute longer.
- Stir in chicken broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, Liquid Smoke, black pepper, and paprika. Stir until smooth. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir. Taste for salt.
- Simmer for 30 minutes or longer. Actually, I sometimes simmer my Brunswick stew for several hours!
The Origin of This Recipe
No one is exactly sure about the origin of this stew, as both Virginia and Georgia have laid claim to it. I’ve always lived in the state of Georgia, so I’m backing her claims. They make more sense to me, anyway. The original version was sort of a hunter’s concoction made with whatever wild game and game birds were on hand. The islands off the coast of the Peach State were important hunting grounds in days past, so it seems to me that the Georgia origin story has more credence. I chose to believe that the stew was first made in Brunswick, GA, in 1898. There’s even a pot there with a plaque commemorating the occasion! How can you argue with that kind of hard evidence?
The stew is a really big deal here. Practically every barbecue joint in the state has its own version. You can even buy it ready to eat in most of our grocery stores, too, especially the small privately owned stores. You can hardly toss a cat around here without its landing in a bowl of Brunswick stew, to coin an old southern expression. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s not much of one. You get the picture.
A "Usual" Bowl
Most standard recipes use a tomato base. It can be made from tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, canned diced tomatoes, or ketchup. Oftentimes, one or more of these are used. Vinegar and/or vinegar-based hot sauces are usually added, sometimes along with Worcestershire sauce and/or liquid smoke. Chicken stock or broth is often used, too.
When it comes to meats, each cook has his or her own ideas what works best in their Brunswick stew recipes, but chicken, ground round or chuck, and shredded smoked pork are pretty traditional. On the other hand, some cooks make chicken-only versions, while others might prefer pulled pork-only versions. Culinary purists might prefer sticking to the old fashioned recipe by using meat from deer, wild boar, rabbits, squirrels, quail, ducks, and/or doves.
There are also some variations when it comes to adding vegetables, grains, and root crops. The most common include lima beans (or butter beans), whole kernel corn, creamed corn, garden peas, potatoes, and onions. Some cooks might add any or all the following, too: okra, rice, celery, field peas, black-eyed peas, bell peppers, or hot peppers.