I’d never had Brunswick Stew until we’d moved down South, so I’m assuming that a lot of you haven’t heard of it either. I’m here to enlighten you! I noticed it on menus in a few places when we lived in Virginia, and then saw it more often when we lived in Georgia. As I was looking at the history of Brunswick Stew when I was prepping for this post, I realized that I am absolutely no help in solving the mystery of where exactly Brunswick Stew began. You see, Brunswick County, Virginia AND Brunswick, Georgia both claim to have originated the amazing concoction we now know as Brunswick Stew. My confusion lies in that I first ate Brunswick Stew in Virginia, but at that time, it was cooked for me by someone who was originally from Georgia.
See? No help.
What I DO know is, I love good Brunswick Stew, and this recipe was a huge hit with my family, and makes for a delicious fall/winter-warm-you-up-inside type dinner…regardless of where you call home.
Everybody’s Brunswick Stew is a little bit different from the next, but most often, it’s a tomato based stew with corn, some type of bean, other veggies, and shredded meat. In my research, I saw that squirrel and opossum meat were often used in early stews (and probably still used in some places). I, however, can’t go there, so I use what I learned to love in Brunswick Stew…smoked shredded pork.
My husband has a smoker, and he loves to smoke pork for BBQ sandwiches. We always have leftovers, though, and the leftovers are the perfect thing for this amazing stew.
If you don’t have a handy-dandy smoker-loving husband at your house, just grab a pound and a half of pulled pork at your favorite BBQ joint to go, and use that. You could use chicken, in a pinch, but I think the smoke from the smoked meat really lends a lot of flavor to the dish.
To make things even better, it couldn’t be easier to throw together. I start by sauteing a chopped onion and some minced garlic in some melted butter in a big pot on the stove top.
While that was cooking, I got my other ingredients together. You’ll need chicken stock, that pulled pork I was talking about, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and some BBQ sauce.
In my opinion, the BBQ sauce you choose can make or break this dish. Personally, I like to use Stubb’s, because it’s just sweet enough and has a peppery kick to it. I think a super sweet sauce might just be too much for the dish.
So, into the pot went all of those ingredients, and then I stirred in some frozen corn and frozen lima beans.
I seasoned it with salt and pepper, gave it a good stir, brought it to a boil, and then reduced the heat down to a simmer. I let the stew cook for an hour and a half, until it was thick, rich, and delicious.
Serve it up alongside some cornbread, and you’ve got a delicious, simple meal on your hands. It’s thick, and hearty, and just chock full of delicious flavor. It’s a great alternative to chili, and definitely a crowd pleaser.
In fact, my little crowd at home was so pleased with it, we’ll have to whip up another batch really soon. It really doesn’t matter to me who came up with the idea for Brunswick Stew first. I’m just glad they did.
Adapted from Jamie Deen
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 large sweet onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1½ cups barbecue sauce (I use Stubb's Original)
- 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1½ lbs. pulled smoked pork
- 8 oz. frozen corn
- 8 oz. frozen lima beans
- salt and pepper
- Melt the butter in a large stock pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic and saute until softened, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cayenne, and pulled pork. Stir to combine. Stir in the frozen corn and lima beans. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the stew to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer for 1½ hours, until thick.