We woke this morning to 35 degrees and the first frost of the season. With a freeze warning in the forecast for the next several nights, we harvested the last of the tomatoes and peppers from the garden, and now the growing season of 2015 is over. When the temps dip this low, it’s time to put a pot on the stove and make up a batch of Brunswick stew, that Commonwealth staple that has kept generations of Virginians warm in cold weather.
The Brunswick stew recipe I have used for years is from the cookbook, Virginia Hospitality: A Book of Recipes From 200 Years of Gracious Entertaining. As with any cook, I have variations (in parentheses). Stew is best when the flavors are given time to meld together so each day it tastes better than the day before. The recipe easily doubles and triples for larger groups. Stay warm, and enjoy!
1 whole chicken, cut up (I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
1 onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
16 ounces white shoepeg corn
10 ounces frozen small butter beans
1 pound canned tomatoes
2 small potatoes, cubed (I double or triple that amount)
1/3 cup ketchup
2-3 Tablespoons vinegar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
1/4 teaspoon marjoram (omit)
2-3 Tablespoons butter
Place chicken in Dutch oven and add enough water to cover well. Add onion, celery, salt, and pepper. Boil until chicken comes off bones easily. Remove chicken to cool and add corn, butter beans, tomatoes, potatoes, ketchup, and vinegar; cook 2 hours or until tender. Remove chicken from bones or shred chicken breasts and add to vegetables along with Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, marjoram, and butter. Serves 6-8.
Note: Vary amount of water for thick or soupy stew. Add a cube of chicken bouillon after the first or second serving.