So I was inspired by Bad Mama's recent post about her eating experiences in North Carolina to make Brunswick stew. Brunswick stew doesn't have much to do with the original Brunswick, or Braunschweig, or even New Brunswick, Canada. Tradition says that it was named after Brunswick County (NB: a county is a small American administrative unit, which non-US readers might be familiar with from watching The Dukes of Hazzard), but which one? There are Brunswick Counties in Virginia and North Carolina, and to confuse matters further, there is a Brunswick, Georgia that has staked its claim to the stew. Originally it was a squirrel stew, cooked with corn. A lot of recipes include beans (especially lima beans) as well, which speaks to me of a Native American origin for the dish. Was the primeval Brunswick stew basically succotash with added squirrel? Unfortunately, history is silent on the matter. Anyway, it's hard to find good squirrel these days. Most current recipes use chicken. My version of Brunswick stew was a combination of yuppie and
white beige trash cooking. I took two unused boneless skinless Perdue chicken breasts that I had in the fridge (this is the yuppie part), about 300-400 grams worth, and cut them into chunks. I finished up the rest of my bacon, about 150 grams, cutting it into thin slices. I put the uncooked meat into my big skillet, chopped up a large white onion and put that in too, and covered the shebang with water and let it simmer for an hour. I also added a few shakes of black pepper and a tablespoon of Worchestershire sauce somewhere in there, to kill time.
At the end of the hour I added an 15-ounce (400 g) can of generic baby lima beans, an 15-ounce can of ditto stewed tomatoes, and an 15-ounce can of ditto creamed corn. (This is the trash part.) I turned up the heat somewhat and let it cook down, stirring more often as the stew thickened, adding some salt along the way. By the end, it was a very thick, rather orange-colored stew, with very little recognizable bacon or tomato.
It turned out to be a rather sweet stew as well (though not candy sweet), probably from the corn and the bacon fat, with an interesting tang. Other versions make it considerably more sour and pepperier, but it was a deliberate choice on my part to keep it basic. And it was very good; my version served two meals for the hungry bachelor, which probably translates to four to six at table. Rice, corn bread, or potatoes.