Wednesday, November 27, 2019


Brunswick Stew was served at Virginia's tobacco-curing, sheep shearing, barn building, and other neighbor gatherings. The story goes that a hunting party in Brunswick County, well provisioned with tomatoes, onions, butter beans, okra, bacon, salt, and corn, left one man behind to have the dinner ready at the end of the day. He could only find a squirrel within range of the camp. So he shot it, cleaned it, and threw it into the pot with the vegetables. When it was served, all of the hunters agreed that squirrel was the finest and tenderest of all wild meats. Chicken is now substituted...and that's a good thing! 
In 1775 my 5th great grandfather, Capt. David Chadwell appeared at the Colonial Capitol Building in the City of Williamsburg to testify against another man who stole his horse. I like to think that maybe that evening he dined at one of the taverns and had Brunswick Stew, probably with squirrel. 

Lee's Kitchen Tips:
If you do not have or like okra, which also is a healthy thickener, just spoon out 3 tablespoons of the melted butter-bacon grease mixture into a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of flour to make a paste. Use this to thicken the stew before you add the boneless chicken pieces.
You can make this stew with your favorite bone-in chicken pieces or 1 whole chicken, cut up.

1 T avocado oil or your favorite oil
4 lbs, bone-in chicken pieces, remove skin, if desired
1-quart chicken stock or broth
3 cups water

6 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced
4 T unsalted butter
1 large sweet or yellow onion, diced
2 (14.5-oz) cans stewed or fire-roasted tomatoes
2 cups frozen lima or butter beans
2 cups frozen corn
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
½ cups sliced okra 
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t liquid smoke (optional)
1 sprig thyme or 1 t dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 t Old Bay seasoning
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce, optional

In a large cast-iron stew pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. 
Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes on each side.
Add the chicken stock, and water.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour.

Remove chicken with tongs or a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl to cool. 
Pour the broth into a large pitcher or measuring cup. 
You should have about 3½ to 4 cups of rich broth.
Leave the brown bits in the bottom of the pot.

In the same pot, fry the diced bacon until crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Add butter to the pot with the bacon fat and let melt.

Add the chopped onion to the butter mixture and sauté for 10 minutes.
Pour the reserved chicken broth into the pot with the sautéed onions.

Add the stewed tomatoes, lima beans, corn, potatoes, okra, Worcestershire, liquid smoke thyme, bay leaves, and Old Bay into the pot.
Slowly simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, remove pull the chicken off the bones into bite-size pieces and add to the pot. 
Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Simmer another 5 minutes, add the cooked bacon bits and serve with cornbread muffins and hot sauce, if desired.

Serves 6

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