Our friends Kitty and JD are from Danville, VA. They have the most wonderful accents! There is no doubt once you exchange a few words with them that they are from the South. I’m looking forward to their wedding in the Spring because Steve and I will get to visit the fabled town that we hear so much about.
For years now JD has been telling us about Brunswick Stew and how we should plan a fall party to make this. He swore it would be the thing to blog about. I have heard of Brunswick stew but have never had the desire to try it. The mix of meats, lima beans, corn, etc. did not sound particularly appealing to me. Being from West Virginia I thought I have a good grasp on Southern cooking, boy, was I wrong on this one. CLICK HERE to jump to the rcecipe
JD (or John David as Kitty calls him), has told us for years about Brunswick Stew, how roadside stands show up in the Fall and they make huge pots of this, stirring it with a big paddle. He has been trying to get us on board for throwing the traditional Brunswick Stew Party for years, then he met Kitty and she makes one of the best he has ever tasted.
We arranged a date in November to do this. Thankfully we had the perfect weather. It was chilly but the sun was out. This is the perfect way to celebrate the glorious fall weather.
There are some requirements to this so if you try this at home you much have a huge pot, a paddle to stir, and a crew to help with the stirring. This stew needs to be stirred constantly to prevent scorching. Refreshments are needed to fortify the labor force.
As promised, Kitty and JD showed up at 8:00 in the morning, with the meats prepared, all of the fixings, the paddle and breakfast. We had a huge pot and propane burner that we use to fry turkeys with. Kitty showed me how she prepared the meat during the week, we chopped onions and potatoes, boiled them for a bit and added all of the ingredients according to Kitty’s instructions. The paddle is to stir constantly, to keep it from sticking on the bottom.
The stew is made in huge quantities, that is the secret to the flavor and it cooks for about 4 hours, with constant stirring. That is the reason for the party – we needed manpower.
We set up the bar outside with everything for Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers, Aperol Spritzers and Mimosas. Kitty brought a huge crock pot full of her sausage dip and I set appetizer platters of chips, dips, cheese and crackers.
Guests floated in and out all day and stirred the stew as it cooked down into deliciousness. We served the main event about 3:00, keeping it warm through the evening as people came and went. This was the best fall picnic I have ever experienced. Everyone stayed outside huddled under the heaters as darkness fell.
The crowd helped to clean up then took off to the bars downtown. We had something to do on Sunday so we stayed behind, savoring a nightcap and how wonderful the day was. There must have been 10 quarts of the stew left over, even after we fed 30 people over the course of the day. It was quite the hit and the to go containers went fast. We enjoyed one during the week and I have a quart tucked into the freezer. It’s just the ticket for a cold evening to remember one of our best Fall parties.
We are already looking forward to next year so we can do it again.
Now for the Recipe:
This is so much more than just a stew. It’s an all day event! It’s so much fun to be a part of this experience. As I watched Kitty I’m fascinated. It hits me that I’m taking part in a ritual that has been handed down over time from one generation to the next, like the paddle used to stir the stew, the directions for the hot sauce: “you pour the bottle in and leave this much.” I’ve captured the recipe and encourage you to try it. I know, I had Kitty to show me the ropes but as you can see by the pictures in the blog everyone participates and it is so much fun. Yes, there is an enormous quantity but everyone loves the leftovers!
Like the French Cassoulet it is prepared in stages. The beef is cooked until tender and shredded then stored in it’s broth one day. The next day the same thing but with chicken. Make sure you allow for this a few days before. Kitty uses a crock pot set on low overnight, cools it down and shreds the meat the next day but please, do whatever works for you.
- 3-4 lbs. Beef, Use Sirloin Tip or the Equivalent
- 4-5 lbs Bone in Chicken Breast
- 3 lbs Diced Potatoes
- 3 lbs Diced Onions
- One Gallon Baby Butter Beans, with liquid
- One Gallon Crushed Tomatoes, with liquid
- One Gallon White Shoe Peg Corn, with liquid
- 14 oz can size tomato paste
- 18 oz Heinz chili sauce
- 4-6 oz pepper sauce. Like Texas Pete
- 1 lb butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup salt
- Up to 3 days before: Cook the meat the day before. Keep the broth.
- Add the potatoes and onions to the pot, cover with water and simmer about 20 minutes. Add the shredded beef, chicken along with the remaining ingredients to the pot. Cook on low stirring constantly or it will stick. I usually cook it about 4-6 hours. You want it to get thick, but if you notice it is getting too thick you can add a little water or broth while you are cooking.
- Hope y'all like it!
Sounds like it was a great meal, Monica. Makes me hungry just reading about it! This would be especially good for a large family gathering so everyone gets a turn at the paddle.
Great to hear from you. It’s a perfect party for your California winters!!!
What a fun party idea! Brunswick stew sounds so delicious and comforting—and the perfect way to warm up on a brisk autumn day 🙂
It was such fun! I’m so glad Kitty and JD shared their tradition with us.
I really wish I lived closer! I’d come over and help stir. Wow, four hours of constantly stirring the stew does take manpower.
Wouldn’t we have fun if you did live closer!
This stew sounds so delicious! I love that you have great gatherings like this. Even though it was cold, I know your hearts were warm with friendship.
Monica, would this be good using smoked meat? Thanks. Can’t wait to try this recipe.
It’s such a fun recipe! We boil the meat to soften it and then it melds into the stew. The smoked meat will give it a different flavor and texture. I’ve not tried that but if you do please let me know how it turns out!