Total time: 4-6 hours.
The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
I’ve halved the recipe and all but butchered the rest of it. My changes are mostly in italics. For the original recipe, please visit the Wolf’s Den.
Adapted from “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee
2 lb chicken (I used 2 pounds of t-bone steaks)
1/2 lb rabbit, quartered (I used 1/2 pound of homemade sausage)
4-6 slices bacon, roughly chopped
6 cups chicken broth or stock (I used beef broth)
1 lb potatoes
1 1/2 cups canned or soaked navy beans, drained
1 large onion
1 large tomato
1 large celery stalk
2 serrano peppers
1 1/2 tsps sea salt, and to taste
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
tabasco sauce to taste
1-In the largest stockpot you have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute. Remove to bowl with the bacon. (I removed the bacon, but I added my onions at this time and sauteed them until golden brown. Then I added my peppers and proceeded to step 2 without removing anything else from the pot.)
2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside. (I did not remove anything from the pot.)
3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. (Here’s where I transferred everything to my pre-warmed crockpot and set it to “High”.) Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. The stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. (Instead of playing the waiting game, I just dumped everything into my crockpot, including all the remaining vegetables, closed the lid and let it sit for 4 hours on high. I added the lemon juice, vinegar, and some super yummy chipotle tabasco just before serving.)
(Optional 4- If you used meat with bones, complete this step) With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones.
4- Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
5- Add in your onion, beans, and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, carefully crush them up. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, and beans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
6- You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.
For my broth, I did a slight variation of the optional Sunday Chicken Broth recipe provided in the challenge. Instead of using chicken bones, I used beef bones! Sunday Beef Broth!
This was a very different tasting stew from what I’m used to, even with my own personal touches. There seemed to be a very high acid content, which was startlingly good to me (not normally a fan of sour).