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The History of Brunswick Stew

March 1, 2016
By Michael Gordon , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Since the start of the hunting season usually involves squirrel, dove and sometimes venison, I wanted to include a recipe for Brunswick stew. This stew is said to have originated in the early 19th century on a plantation in Brunswick, Georgia, July 2 1898. Virginia also claims the dish, stating that a chef for the legislator in Brunswick County, VA invented it on a hunting trip, also in 1828. And last but not least, famous writer and cookbook expert, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, author of "The Yearling" and also "Cross Creek Cookery Cookbook" 1942, says that Queen Victoria loved Brunswick stew and it originated in the original Brunswick, Germany.

I know the first time I tasted it was on a hunting trip with my dad in 1970. We ate it from a thermos bottle and it was delicious. My father's mother's family was from Germany and the only time I ever heard of it was on that trip. We called it Brunswick stew then and it was made from squirrel meat, sausage, tomatoes, lima beans and corn. It was thick and delicious. I tend to want to believe that it is an American creation and I'm sticking with it.

I looked up Brunswick stew and found that the ingredients vary. But my research leads me to believe that authentic Brunswick stew contains one of the following meats: squirrel, rabbit, or opossum. It's usually served in the summer and it's really thick meat stew with vegetable, because if it was thin it would be vegetable soup with meat. Beef, pork, chicken and other domestic meats are used by some today who wish not to bother with catching and preparing wild game. But authentic Brunswick stew is made from game.

Article Photos

Brunswick stew is said to have originated in the early 19th century on a plantation in Brunswick, Georgia, July 2 1898.

Brunswick stew

Recipe

3-4 squirrels (about 18 oz.) dressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. If using older squirrels quarter them leaving legs whole.

Fact Box

The first time I tasted it was on a hunting trip with my dad in 1970. We ate it from a thermos bottle and it was delicious.

11/2 cups flour

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup diced potatoes cooked

1 cup celery, diced

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup bell pepper, diced

1 cup lima beans

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup corn

1 pint homemade canned tomatoes or 1 14 oz. can of tomatoes

1 tsp Tabasco, 4-5 dashes if you like spice

1 lb ground Italian sausage crumbled

2 teaspoons rosemary

1 teaspoon thyme

1 bay leave

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

3 cups chicken stock

Lemon juice

Method: In a large bowl, mix half the flour, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place squirrel in bowl with flour mixture and coat thoroughly.

In a large Dutch oven, or heavy stock pot, heat olive oil until almost smoking. Brown squirrel in batches. Change oil if needed. Remove squirrel and set aside.

Add celery, onions, bell pepper, sausage and garlic to the pot. Add more olive oil for sauting if needed. Cook until vegetables are translucent over medium heat. Add remaining tablespoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Then add the remaining flour and stir until thick. This begins your stew. Add the stock stir well to mix. Then add the corn, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, wine and squirrel meat to the pot. Bring mixture to a boil then lower to simmer for about 35-45 minutes. Add extra stock if necessary. Dash the Tabasco into the stew then cover. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over stew, if desired. Serve with cornbread or fresh baked bread.

 
 

 

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