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VD Stew


Dave the Cook
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I need your help.

Varmint has asked me to make the Brunswick Stew for the Pig Pickin'. I have no idea what I've done to deserve this honor, but I intend to take it very seriously.

For you deprived Northerners, Brunswick Stew is a melange of one or more meats, tomatoes, corn and lima beans. On these ingredients, every recipe agrees. But like many rustic dishes, there are probably as many variations as there are cooks. Its origin is lost in history; Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia all claim to be birthplaces. Virginia has the most reasonable proof, dating it to 1828. But common sense says that the combination of late-summer veggies with a small meaty animal doesn't require any more inspiration than hunger.

Unlike chili, clam chowder, or even barbecue itself, there appear to be no clear regional loyalties as far as ingredients go, though as you move west into the Appalachians, you're more likely to find game in the pot, and as you move South, the recipes seem to get more complicated, listing chicken, beef, pork and ham as well as peas and peppers.

It's a traditional accompaniment to barbecue, although a good one can stand on its own. But the association with smoked meat is so strong that many recipes call for smoked pork and/or chicken, barbecue sauce and the like. I've seen many Stews that seemed to be nothing more than pulled pork, beans and corn in a soup of diluted Bullseye. Or, as my new boss puts it:

I know that most of the renditions I've tried are mediocre. I've never had one knock off my socks . . . the typical nasty version is similar to sweetened Campbell's vegetable soup. God awful stuff.

The thing is, at the Pig Pickin', there will be a magnificent example of smoked pork right down the table from my stew, and I'm neither interested in competing with it, nor in robbing from it to make my dish.

So I'm on a mission from Varmint. Here's how he put it:

I want a f***ing awesome stew.
Here are the parameters we agreed on:

- It's a meat-and-vegetable stew. The two components should have equal billing.

- Thickening should come from the corn, potatoes and the texture of shredded meat (and the natural gelatin in the stock, if any), not from flour or corn meal.

- Just enough sweetness to highlight the veggies; just enough spice to control the sweetness and compliment the meat. It should support the pig, not overshadow it.

- Authenticity is less important than awesomeness, although Varmint has promised to bag a couple of squirrels (OK, what actually promised was a pair of Pel-Freez rabbits) personally if I can get the recipe right.

After a lot of research, I have pared the recipe down to its essentials. I threw out the okra (I don't like it), set aside James Beard's inclusion of madeira for the moment, and eliminated anything that called for bottled barbecue sauce. What I have left is remarkably close to the version in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook (I have the 11th edition):

One 3-lb. chicken

One onion, chopped

One pound tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped

One cup corn kernels

One cup shelled lima beans

One pound all-purpose potatoes, 1/2-inch cube

1. Simmer the chicken in about two quarts of water until the meat is cooked through. Remove and allow to cool.

2. Add the vegetables to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Remove the meat from the chicken and shred. Add to the pot along with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Simmer for another ten minutes.

Here's a list of potential modifications:

- Heat: jalapeno, cayenne, pepper sauce

- Meat: pork, ham, beef, sausage, bacon (using the sat to saute the veggies and/or brown the chicken

- Veggies: bell pepper, green beans, green peas

- Miscellaneous ingredients: stock rather than water; Worcestershire sauce; brown/white sugar; chili sauce; ketchup

- Techniques: brown the meat first

From the recipe above, I need to build Varmint and Dave's Brunswick Bonanza (we'll call it VD Stew for short).

For the next 46 days, my kitchen is gonna be Cooks Illustrated South. With the help of eGulls everywhere, I'll make a new version every weekend, dissect the results and modify the recipe during the week, and repeat until I have what Varmint wants. Or, of course, until time runs out.

Let's see if we can build the perfect VD Stew. What are your ideas?

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Dave, now that I'm home, I've found what may be the quintessential recipe from Bill Neal's "Southern Cooking." What is very important is this final sentence from the introductory paragraph: "[T]he devotees of this hearty meal still stir it slowly and continuously with long oak paddles as it bubbles away in iron pots over hardwood flames." Find a big ass iron pot, and I'll get the oak paddle!

Here's a list of ingredients:

1 chicken

1 rabbit

Heart, gizzard, liver from chicken

Liver and kidney from rabbit

Pork sidemeat

Onion

Celery

Carrots

Cabbage

Garlic

Thyme

Bay leaf

Red pepper flakes

Tomatoes

Lima beans

Potatoes

Corn

Stock

S&P

Additional vegetables in season

I'll provide details later, but this may very well be the base recipe to follow. Notice the lack of any sugar, which is fine with me. Let the corn do the sweetening.

Finally, "VD Stew????" Whassup with that?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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This looks good. I like the use of giblets. They might provide the slight gamy note that I'd like. Domesticated rabbit ain't gonna do it.

From my post:

From the recipe above, I need to build Varmint and Dave's Brunswick Bonanza (we'll call it VD Stew for short).

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I think that VD used as initials should be banned, as well as BM. The negative connotations are too strong. DV is much better.

I've never had Brunswick stew but it sounds really good. Personally I'd add some chopped up country ham. Also, remember that its Lee-ma beans, not Lie-ma.

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From Marion Brown's "The Southern Cook Book" (1951)

1 hen

2 lbs. stew beef

2 squirrels

2 lbs veal

1 qt butter beans

1 lb. tender okra

4 medium onions

18 ears corn

1/2 peck Irish potatoes

1/2 cup tomato catsup

1 large bunch celery

1 qt. can tomatoes, or 3 lbs. fresh tomatoes

1/2 lb. real butter

1 cup vinegar

1-1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Salt to taste

Good pinch cayenne

1 Tbsp prepared mustard.

Poach meat until tender. Remove. Cook veggies. Add butter. Add cooked meat. "After mixtures of meat and vegetables have been blended, cook to a thick mush." Add seasoning.

"Cook to a thick mush." God, I love that!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I've never had Brunswick stew but it sounds really good. Personally I'd add some chopped up country ham. Also, remember that its Lee-ma beans, not Lie-ma.

Country ham might be a bit strong for Brunswick Stew.

Actually, it's "butter beans" down here, Dean.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Dean, you know better than me. At least we both agree that "VD stew" is not a very appetizing name.

Yeah I was just thinking, what would you serve that with, Clap Casserole or Pasta a la Herpes?

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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I think that VD used as initials should be banned, as well as BM. The negative connotations are too strong. DV is much better.

I could have called it BS! BTW, I have no great affection for the name. If it's offensive rather than amusing to anyone, I'll ask a forum god to change it.

I've never had Brunswick stew but it sounds really good. Personally I'd add some chopped up country ham. Also, remember that its Lee-ma beans, not Lie-ma.

I agree, in small amounts -- a seasoning component rather than a main ingredient.

OTOH, the other day, in a fruitless search for guanciale, I ran across a long-lost porcine pal: cured side meat. It worked really well in a carbonara -- piggy and sweet without the smoky overtones of bacon. I'm thinking it could contribute a porky bass note and render fat for the veg saute at the same time.

Ah, and now I am told that Bob Neal had the same idea.

guajolote, if you don't make it to the Pickin' we'll make sure the Riot brings some home for you.

You're funnin' with the rednecks on pronunciation, right? I misspent a good part of my youth in Ohio. The city was Lee-ma, but what Grandma Scantland put up in Ball jars were lie-mas.

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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You're funnin' with the rednecks on pronunciation, right? I misspent a good part of my youth in Ohio. The city was Lee-ma, but what Grandma Scantland put up in Ball jars were lie-mas.

I have a friend from the Peruvian capital who used to make fun of the way everyone pronounced those beans, so now I call them Lee-ma. I mistakenly thought they were from South America, they're actually from Guatemala.

I'm going to try to track some Brunswick Stew down in Chicago this weekend, there are enough southerners here that I think I can find a decent version.

Does anyone know why it's called Brunswick Stew? Any relation to the bowling company?

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Dave, now that I'm home, I've found what may be the quintessential recipe from Bill Neal's "Southern Cooking."  What is very important is this final sentence from the introductory paragraph: "[T]he devotees of this hearty meal still stir it slowly and continuously with long oak paddles as it bubbles away in iron pots over hardwood flames."  Find a big ass iron pot, and I'll get the oak paddle!

Here's a list of ingredients:

1 chicken

1 rabbit

Heart, gizzard, liver from chicken

Liver and kidney from rabbit

Pork sidemeat

Onion

Celery

Carrots

Cabbage

Garlic

Thyme

Bay leaf

Red pepper flakes

Tomatoes

Lima beans

Potatoes

Corn

Stock

S&P

Additional vegetables in season

I'll provide details later, but this may very well be the base recipe to follow.  Notice the lack of any sugar, which is fine with me.  Let the corn do the sweetening.

Finally, "VD Stew????"  Whassup with that?

substitute freshly caught and skinned squirrel for rabbit

eliminate pork side meat- uh? what is a pork side meat?

rest looks good

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Does anyone know why it's called Brunswick Stew? Any relation to the bowling company?

Brunswick, Georgia

or

Brunswick County, Virginia

or

Brunswick, North Carolina

They all claim to have "invented" it.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, they were all named for Brunswick-Lineburg -- an area in Germany ruled by the British King George I. I don't know if he bowled.

what is a pork side meat?

Side meat comes from the rear of the pig's belly, between where American bacon comes from and the back legs. It's usually cured with salt, but not smoked. It's fatty and sweet -- fatter than American bacon, but leaner than fatback. The word "unctuous" comes to mind.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Prudhomme has a recipe for Brunswick Stew that looks promising. From the intro:

"This stew probably originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, in the 1820s, when it would have been made with squirrel, but no vegetables."

His version uses chicken combined with potatoes, onion, green pepper, tomato, limas, and corn. And lots of spices and herbs.

Dave, I'll forward the recipe to you if you want it.

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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substitute freshly caught and skinned squirrel for rabbit

Any tips on catching squirrels? Looks like Varmint's gonna need 'em.

My neighbor has a squirrel trap and has caught about 50 this summer. They eat the apples from his backyard tree, so I suppose they'd have a nice sweet, fruity flavor. Of course they are northern city squirrels, which might make a difference.

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Here are some more to ponder:

Brunswick Stew #1

1 5-lb hen

3 lbs trimmed round steak

4 lbs onions, chopped

3 lbs chopped okra

1/2 lb bacon

1/4 lb raw ham

1 lemon, sliced thinly

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 C chopped parsley

10 peppercorns

5 cans tomatoes to which 1 tsp baking soda is added

1/2 C vinegar

1 small bottle catsup

1 large bottle Lea & Perrins

Tabasco & salt to taste

1 large can sliced mushrooms

6 ears corn, kernels cut off cob

1/2 lb butter

"This recipe is quite famous in the Greenwood area as it is the one used by the late Mr. John H. Pettey when he entertained such groups as the Delta Council and the National Cottonseed Association," - Bayou Cuisine.

Put chicken and beef in large pot. Add water to cover. Cook until chicken is falling from bones. Remove chicken and pull meat off and add to pot. Discard bones. Cook bacon in skillet. Remove bacon from grease and add to stew. Cube ham and add to bacon grease. Fry ham until done, and then add to stew. Into skillet put onions, celery, okra. Fry until onions are clear. Add to stew. Add lemon and parsley to stew. Stew slowly for hours until meats are completely shredded. In separate pan, put tomatoes, catsup, vinegar, Worsty, Tabasco. Cook for about an hour. Add to stew. Continue stewing until flavors are well combined. Add more liquid if needed. Add butter as stew cooks to prevent sticking. About thirty minutes before serving time, add mushrooms and corn. Serves 12

Brunswick Stew #2

3 fine grey squirrels

1/2 lb lean ham

2 chickens or 1 hen (4-5 lbs)

4 onions, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red pepper pod, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T sugar

1/4 C Lea & Perrin

S&P to taste

2 qts tomatoes, chopped

2 lbs okra, chopped

1 qt fresh corn, cut from cob

parsley, chopped

2 sticks butter

Cut squirrels and hen into pieces for frying. Place in large stew pot with onions, peppers, garlic, sugar, Lea & Perrin, S&P, covering with water. Boil slowly until meat leaves the bones. Remove bones and add all remaining ingredients. Stew slowly for at least 6 hours, stirring frequently. Add more water if necessary, but do not make it watery. It is a thick stew. Serves 20

Brunswick Stew #3

1 large stewing hen

1 #2 can tomatoes

1 T olive oil

1 1/2 T flour

3 T shortening

2 white onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

heart of celery, chopped

1 pint broth

1 #2 can creamed corn

1/2 bunch green onions, chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

1 T chopped bell pepper

S&P to taste

4 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half

Boil chicken until very tender in enough seasoned water to make 1 pint of chicken broth. Remove chicken meat from bones. Reserve broth. Saute tomatoes in EVOO until tomatoes are thickened. Make a roux with the flour, shortening, onions, garlic and celery. Add to the roux the broth and all other ingredients except the eggs. Cook for at least two or three hours or until all flavors are combined. Add more broth if needed. Just before serving, add egg halves. Serves 6

Brunswick Stew #4

This recipe has been cut down from the original recipe calling for 350 pounds of chicken to feed hundreds of people at the annual Billups Dove Hunt at the Billups Plantation in Indianola, Mississippi, cooked each year by Billy Montjoy. The stew would be started by 6:00 am, cooked in an old black caldron and stirred with a boat paddle off and on until serving after the hunt. It has been enjoyed by many Mississippians, as well as people from all over the country, and has been written about in newspapers in several southern cities. - Southern Sideboards

6 hens or heavy fryers

10-12 lbs lean beef, cubed

2 lbs center cut ham, cubed

1 lb bacon, chopped

1 lb cubed salt meat, skin removed

5-6 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed

18 large white onions, quartered

5 whole bunches celery, chopped

2 bunches parsley, chopped

10 lbs fresh or frozen whole okra

4 or 5 17-oz cans lima beans, drained

4 or 5 16-oz cans cut green beans, drained

18 16-oz cans stewed tomatoes

6 17-oz cans creamed corn

1 lb butter

3 15-oz bottles Lea & Perrin

1 8-oz can black pepper

1 1-1/8-oz can red pepper

1 2-oz bottle Tabasco

4 or 5 14-oz bottles catsup

juice of 4 lemons

4 4-oz cans mushrooms, drained

Boil chicken in water to cover until meat pulls from the bone. Remove meat from bone, discard all skin and bones and chop meat. Strain stock. Add beef, ham, bacon, salt meat, potatoes, onions, celery and parsley to stock. If you need to, add more water to cover. Cover pot and simmer over moderate heat one hour, stirring infrequently. Add chicken, whole okra, and other vegetables except tomatoes, corn and mushrooms. Continue cooking for one hour. Add tomatoes. Cook for another hour. Add corn. Add butter and all remaining ingredients except mushrooms. Add water as needed. About 30 minutes before serving, add mushrooms. Serves 40-50.

Brunswick Stew # 5

1 4-lb hen

1 1/2 lbs lean beef, chopped

1 lb lean pork, chopped

2 qts cold water

2 T salt

1/2 t whole black peppercorns

2 T dried red pepper

1 C potatoes, large dice

1 C snap beans, snapped

1 C peas

1 1/2 C chopped onion

2 C sliced okra

2 C lima beans

2 C corn kernels cut from cob

2 1/2 qt fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 t ground black pepper

1/3 C butter

Tabasco to taste

Put chicken, beef, pork into large stewpot with water, salt, peppercorns and red pepper. Cover and cook slowly for 2 hours or until meat falls from bones. Discard bones.

Return meat to stock. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook gently for several hours, stirring often to prevent scorching. Makes 1 1/2 gallons.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Prudhomme has a recipe for Brunswick Stew that looks promising. From the intro:

"This stew probably originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, in the 1820s, when it would have been made with squirrel, but no vegetables."

His version uses chicken combined with potatoes, onion, green pepper, tomato, limas, and corn. And lots of spices and herbs.

Dave, I'll forward the recipe to you if you want it.

PJ

Wow. I didn't check Chef Paul.

Lots of spices and herbs, of course -- otherwise it's not worth his time, right? (I adore Prudhomme.) Save me some time and tell me which book? I've probably got it. And thanks.

I wonder why no vegetables, though this site, which claims to tell the "true" story, doesn't mention veg either: squirrel, butter, onions, stale bread and seasoning.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Hard boiled eggs??  That must be a Texas version! :wink:

And mushrooms!

I've seen lemon in a number of places -- there may be some legitimacy there.

Jaymes -- those are great resources, and not just for the technical stuff, but for the little glimpses into other people's kitchens:

"5 cans tomatoes to which 1 tsp baking soda is added" -- what's that about?

"3 fine grey squirrels" -- priceless

"cooked in an old black caldron and stirred with a boat paddle off and on until serving" -- this is looking more and more important!

" It has been enjoyed by many Mississippians, as well as people from all over the country, and has been written about in newspapers in several southern cities" -- I love Junior League-type cookbooks.

Edited by Dave the Cook (log)

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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If I may chime in regarding the end product, this dish should not be a carrier for spice. Dave hit it on the head in his initial post: meat, veggies, tomato, natural thickeners, some spice and some sweet. I personally don't think green peppers should be in this dish. Some sour (lemon/vinegar) and sweet appear to be common. Damn, Dave, you have indeed taken on quite a task!!!

Malawry's in charge of the hush puppies. Who wants to do the slaw??? :wink: BTW, my Tennessee friend Todd used to make my slaw for me -- he called it "Haw River Slaw" because he included clover picked from the banks of the Haw River. Top that one!!!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Hard boiled eggs??  That must be a Texas version! :wink:

And mushrooms!

I've seen lemon in a number of places -- there may be some legitimacy there.

Remember, this will be for a North Carolina pig pickin'. We can't stray too far away from the norm!

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Hard boiled eggs??  That must be a Texas version! :wink:

Nope. That particular recipe comes from a very fine lady that lives in Baton Rouge. :rolleyes:

And #5 recipe belongs to a woman from Spartanburg, South Carolina.

The other three are from Mississippians.

Nary a Texan among'um.

:biggrin:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Prudhomme has a recipe for Brunswick Stew that looks promising. From the intro:

"This stew probably originated in Brunswick County, Virginia, in the 1820s, when it would have been made with squirrel, but no vegetables."

His version uses chicken combined with potatoes, onion, green pepper, tomato, limas, and corn. And lots of spices and herbs.

Dave, I'll forward the recipe to you if you want it.

PJ

Wow. I didn't check Chef Paul.

Lots of spices and herbs, of course -- otherwise it's not worth his time, right? (I adore Prudhomme.) Save me some time and tell me which book? I've probably got it. And thanks.

I wonder why no vegetables, though this site, which claims to tell the "true" story, doesn't mention veg either: squirrel, butter, onions, stale bread and seasoning.

"Seasoned America".

PJ

"Epater les bourgeois."

--Lester Bangs via Bruce Sterling

(Dori Bangs)

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