My Odyssey to Brunswick
If you know anything about Brunswick stew you know there’s a bajillion different ways to make it. I was just on Facebook thumbing through my feed when I came across an old high school chum who had posted his favorite recipe. If you think religion and politics are polarizing topics on social media, go ahead and post your opinion on BBQ. Wow! The comments were feisty and even claims of blasphemy were made over my friend’s Brunswick stew recipe.
Three years ago I came across what sounded like a pretty decent recipe in Garden & Gun magazine. Proudly touted as the best recipe as it was the secret of a long standing BBQ joint in Brunswick GA proper (St. Simon’s). I was instantly inspired to expand my smoky horizons and give it a go. The results were pretty outstanding but I found myself over the course of the next 5 days eating bowl after bowl and not only ingesting the ingredients but ingesting the passion to create my own version.
Over the next three years I kept meticulous notes on each iteration of Brunswick stew I made. I didn’t work in isolation but instead shared these pots with friends and neighbors and solicited their feedback. I’ve never had any terrible feedback but just like my chum’s social media post, people can’t contain themselves when it comes to critiquing BBQ.
My odyssey to Brunswick has found me standing in grocery stores blankly staring at spices, sauces and wondering if my next step would lead to a tragic waste of about $50 worth of ingredients. I am proud to say that my journey has been fruitful and having just finished my 2015 version I felt it was now perfected enough to share. Hopefully, you will not be offended that I didn’t use chicken or that I used baby Lima beans. Look past what you know to be your comfort zone and give this recipe a try. The personal preferences that get introduced into BBQ by each person, people, location, region and available ingredients is what makes it like no other food in the world.
My recipe is a traditional base with some shortcuts on things that make the process not be a weekend long undertaking. Don’t get too hung up on finding the exact ingredients I used. If you can’t find something, find the next most similar thing and go for it. The results may astound you.
I hope you like it and you’ll give some CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM on new ways to make it in 2016.
Cracklin’s Brunswick Stew
Yield: 15-20 Servings
1/2 lb. Salted Butter
2 Large Sweet VIDALIA Onions. Diced
5 Very Large Cloves of Garlic. Crushed
1 tsp. Cayenne
3 – 12oz. Bags Frozen Yellow Kernel Corn
2 – 12oz. Bags Frozen Baby Lima Beans
1 – 14.5oz. Can Red Gold Brand Diced Tomatoes
1 – 28oz. Can Hunt’s Brand Crushed Red Tomatoes
1/2 tbsp. Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tbsp. Sea Salt
48oz. Box of Chicken Stock (not light or reduced sodium)
3/4 C. Wicker’s BBQ Marinade (Sub. John Boy & Billy’s Eastern Carolina or any vinegar based BBQ sauce or marinade)
1 C. Cattlemen’s Master Reserve Carolina Tangy Gold BBQ Sauce (Sub. Sticky Fingers Carolina Classic or other mustard based BBQ sauce).
1/4 C. Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce (don’t recommend using the store brand)
2-3 lbs. Smoked Boston Butt or PicNic. Pulled and slightly chopped to remain chunky. (Sub. grilled pork tenderloins).
Note: Don’t sauce your meat too much if at all while cooking. We just want the smoke flavor in the meat. We’ll leave the rest of the flavor up to the stew. I cooked a picnic coated in mustard and rubbed with McCormick’s Rib Rub and smoked it with oak wood exclusively for 18 hours. I’m certain any method you choose to cook the meat will be fine and pork tenderloins on the gas grill with only salt and pepper would suffice.
- In a stock pot melt butter over medium heat.
- Add diced onions, then garlic and sweat for about 15 minutes until translucent.
- Stir in black pepper, cayenne pepper and sea salt.
- Stir in Worcestershire Sauce
- Simmer about 7 minutes
- Add BBQ sauces and meat to the pot covering the meat thoroughly with all ingredients to this point. Cook 10 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, corn, Lima beans and stir in chicken stock.
- Simmer a few hours.
I usually simmer 4 hours, cool 2 hours and then refrigerate and serve the next day slowly reheated. I find the flavors to be more blended and fewer individual ingredients stand out to the taste than if served on the day of making it. It also freezes well in pint bags.
People of Brunswick would probably prefer it be served with saltines. I prefer cornbread from a cast iron triangle pan. And of course the best option being Cracklin Cornbread if it can be had.
This recipe will turn out spicier than you might think. Wait until it’s served and allow each person to add their desired amount of Texas Pete or Frank’s hot sauce to taste.
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