If there was a list somewhere of iconic Southern recipes, somewhere near the top of that list would be Brunswick Stew. It is part-and-parcel of any Southern cook’s repertoire although its origins are somewhat murky. Of course, Brunswick, Georgia, claims bragging rights to the delicious recipe as does Brunswick County, Virginia. Who really knows where it originated? I’m sure I don’t, but I know this – it is one of the most delicious combinations of meat and vegetables ever created. And, frankly, no Southern barbecue would be complete without a pot of Brunswick Stew.
All through the South there are thousands of local, mom-and-pop barbecue restaurants. Every one of them serving up their own special barbecued meats, sauces, and Brunswick Stew. Every one is different and nearly every one of them is delicious. Depending on the cook, Brunswick Stew may have a base of all pork, all chicken or a mixture of the two. I prefer all chicken for mine. In years past, rabbit and other wild game meats were used, but that’s quite rare these days. The two things, however, that all Brunswick Stews must be is “smoky” and “sweet.” The smoky aspect usually comes from the meat and the sweet from the addition of barbecue sauce.
Put the ham bone in a large cooking pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Add the chicken to the pot along with the bay leaves, thyme, parsley, celery, onions and peppercorns. I had some celery leaves left over from making celery sticks the day before, so that’s what I used. Waste not, want not! Simmer, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender – approximately 1 ½ hours.
Note: Using the ham bone is optional, but it gives an extra smoky depth of flavor to the Brunswick stew. If you don’t have a ham bone, you may start with the simmering of the chicken and aromatic herbs. Use a barbecue sauce with a smoky flavor where called for later in the recipe.
When tender, set the chicken aside until cool enough to handle. I usually prepare the recipe to this point and place the chicken and broth in separate containers in the refrigerator overnight. That also gives me an opportunity to let the fat rise to the top of the broth so that I can remove the majority of it before finishing the recipe.
Remove and discard the bones and skin from the chicken. Finely shred the chicken meat and return to the broth.
Add the onion, butterbeans or baby lima beans, corn, potatoes, diced tomatoes, barbecue sauce, catsup, salt and red pepper flakes, if using. Add more water if needed to make a thick soupy stew.
Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the vegetables are tender. Makes 15-18 servings.
Brunswick Stew is most often served as a side dish along with barbecued chicken or pork, baked beans and potato salad. It may also be served in a big bowl with saltine crackers on the side.
Enjoy! All text and photographs on Never Enough Thyme are copyright protected. Please do not use any material from this site without obtaining prior permission. If you'd like to post this recipe on your site, please create your own original photographs and either re-write the recipe in your own words or link to this post.
All text and photographs on Never Enough Thyme are copyright protected. Please do not use any material from this site without obtaining prior permission. If you'd like to post this recipe on your site, please create your own original photographs and either re-write the recipe in your own words or link to this post.
More Brunswick Stew recipes you might enjoy:
- A “world famous” Brunswick Stew recipe from St. Simons Island, Georgia
- Several Brunswick Stew recipes from Gardner’s
- Brunswick Stew on Eat This