Last week’s dinner: Brunswick stew

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The recipe for Brunswick stew had been sitting on my Pinterest board for a while. Though I had seen it on Cracker Barrel menus for years, I had no clue what it was. Soooooo, I turned to the natural place…Wikipedia:

Recipes for Brunswick stew vary greatly but it is usually a tomato-based stew containing various types of lima beans/butter beans, corn, okra, and othervegetables, and one or more types of meat. Most recipes claiming authenticity call for squirrel or rabbit meat, but chicken, pork, and beef are also common ingredients. Some versions have a distinctly smoky taste. Eastern North Carolina Brunswick Stew has potatoes, which thickens it considerably. Eastern Virginia Brunswick Stew tends to be thinner, with more tomato flavor and less smoky flavor.

Well then. Since we’re a little light on varmint around here, I figured chicken thighs would work in its stead. Pork, turkey, venison or rabbit (I actually love rabbit, but I’m not sure where in Syracuse I can find a good piece of it) would all work here.

2012-12-18 at 17-30-38What appealed to me was the wide range of vegetables in a nice, thick tomato base. I opted for the Eastern Virginia version, eliminating the potatoes since it was a weeknight dinner and I didn’t want to wait all night for them to cook.

WHAT WORKED: Dredging the chicken in cornstarch. By dusting the chicken in flour and then dredging it in cornstarch, you get the flavor and the sauce thickener you need all in one step.

WHAT DIDN’T: Time. It takes more than an hour to make correctly and cook down fully. We didn’t sit down until almost 5:30 p.m. (unheard of) to eat. One of my friends likes to give me crap for finishing dinner before he gets out of work. As I like to remind him, his job sucks.

WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: I can’t remember. Hell, I can’t even remember what day of the week I made this, as evidenced by the post’s title.

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: Most likely for a weekend dinner or if I’m having the in-laws over.

2012-12-18 at 18-11-43Brunswick Stew
A meta recipe created from six or seven websites

  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • pan-searing flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 8 oz. frozen lima beans
  • 8 oz. frozen corn
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2 bay leaves



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Dust chicken thighs with pan-searing flour, then dredge in cornstarch. Heat 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. When it shimmers, reduce heat to medium or medium-high and brown chicken on all sides. Set chicken on a plate and set aside.


2012-12-18 at 18-02-35Using the same Dutch oven on medium-high heat, saute onions in an additional 1 tbsp. of olive oil. When they turn translucent, add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil. Add corn, lima beans, carrots, bell pepper and water or broth. Return to a boil, add the bay leaves, chicken* and accumulated juices, cover partially, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for one hour, remove the bay leaves and serve hot.


*Note that many recipes call for you to debone the browned chicken and add to the pot. I kept it on the bone and cooked the thighs in the stew to bring out some more flavor from the skin and bones. It’s up to you.

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