Are you looking for a flavorful soup that's a little different from the soups you make all of the time? I have one for you to try-Brunswick Stew. It's April, so it's time for another Daring Cooks Challenge. 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 had heard of Brunswick Stew, but had no idea of what it was. I am going to quote Wolf here because she gives a wonderful history of the stew. "Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact.
However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years. He was said to have used squirrel in the original Brunswick Stew created for the group when they returned. The hunters were at first skeptical of the thick, hearty concoction, but upon tasting it, were convinced and asked for more.
Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia.
In the early 20th Cent, the rivalry of the two Brunswicks helped make this dish as popular as it is today, and it quickly became a pan-Southern classic. Some recipe call for the original addition of squirrel, but most allow for chicken, turkey, ham, or pork, even beef on occasion. Rabbit is also used. The vegetables can vary widely from variation to variation, however, the Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that “Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.”
As Daring Cooks, we had two choices of recipes to make. One was a much longer version than the other. I chose the long version, but did make one exception-I used Swanson's Chicken Broth instead of making my own. I figured if the stew was going to cook for over 3 hours, it would be flavorful enough, and I was right. When I tasted it, I would have thought for sure I had used home-made broth. In my version, I used rabbit and chicken. I only had boneless, skinless chicken breasts, so that's what I used. I was afraid they would be dry and unflavorful, but that wasn't the case at all. When I make this again, I'd use a whole chicken, but if you're like me and need to use what's in your freezer, the chicken breasts worked just fine. But also know that I had a whole rabbit in the freezer, so the dark meat and the bones of the rabbit really added to the flavor here. Don't skip the rabbit and use only boneless chicken breasts, or you'll have no flavor. For the vegetables, I used potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, frozen corn and frozen lima beans.