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Brunswick Stew – mighty meaty

April 13, 2010

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.

The daring cooks challenge for April was a Brunswick stew – as I read through the recipe for this ‘pan-Southern classic’, I was somewhat perturbed by the sheer abundance of meat in it: there are three different kinds of meat in this one stew, which, for someone who just waxed lengthily about flexatariansim, is rather a lot.   The hostess, Wolf from Wolf’s Den assured us that the vegetarian option was a possibility, but as I read through the recipe it seemed that the amount of flavor that would come from the meat, first browned, then simmered long and slow, would be hard to achieve with vegetables only.  I decided to go the whole hog (whole rabbit?  whole chicken?) and make the recipe exactly as written in the first of the two options which comes from “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee”. I did however halve the recipe because ‘serves 12′ is more than me or my fridge can handle.  You can see the recipes on the Daring Kitchen site and also see photos of some of the other versions cooked up for the challenge.  Having decided on the recipe I had to assemble the extensive ingredients.

I am very lucky to live a bus ride away from The Meat Hook and Brooklyn Kitchen — a kitchen supplies store, venue for awesome classes and great place to get unusual meat products… I found a beautiful organic rabbit there and also bought a few slices of really amazing bacon.  (Being able to buy bacon by the slice is a real bonus, otherwise I have to buy a whole pack and then one thing leads to another and I’m sitting around all day eating pancakes and bacon).  I got the chicken from my local SuperFoodtown in BedStuy which has a suprisingly good selection of organic and pasture raised produce.  I was also excited to use a lot of my home canned goods in the recipe including two cans of beans, a can of corn, canned beef stock, and a can of tomatoes: thats five off the shelf and some space cleared out for new Tigress canjam goodies!

I thought the stew tasted really good but it was quite a lot of work and I’m not sure the extra work was worth the effort.  For example, fry the bacon, set it aside, toast the chillies, remove, brown the meat a few pieces at a time, etc, etc… it was a while before everything was finally in the pot.  and then after another while I had to take it out again, shred the meat off the bone and then cook some more.  I might try it again as a throw it all in and simmer for a long time stew and see how that turns out!

As for rabbit: I’m not sure I’ve ever had rabbit before but I like it. And apparently it’s the lowest cholesterol meat available which is good to know!  It had an ever so slightly gamey flavor which gave the whole stew as slightly exotic flavor!

The recipe suggested serving the stew with cornbread and so I made a batch of my favourite recipe: a sage and honey skilled cornbread from Epicurious.  This is the same cornbread I made for the last ‘Who’s your daddy chilli and cornbread contest’ and the only reason I didn’t win first place cornbread was because someone snuck in a bread with some cornmeal in it and served it with whipped cream, which is totally cheating.   I’m telling you, this is a phenomenal bread: and really easy to make too.  I love that you preheat the skillet and then melt the butter in it, getting the butter melted to mix in to the batter and simultaneously preparing the pan.  I love how beautiful the cornbread looks in the skillet and the sage and honey is a brilliant combination where the herb cuts the sweetness to give a rich and complex flavor that you should definitely try with or without the Brunswick stew.

By Talia

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2010 1:01 am

    What a delightful post – I love how you what the whole hog and did it with three meats (rabbit!) and your corn bread sounds and looks brilliant. I want to try it very soon.

    You used your own canned goods you really are one fine cook. Superb work on this challenge. And your photos are very profession. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    • April 14, 2010 7:07 am

      Thanks Audex: how lovely to get compliments from a cook as inspired as you! My co-blogger Noerah took the photos as always, its really fun to see what she can make from my cooking!

  2. April 14, 2010 2:45 am

    The last time I ate rabbit before this challenge was announced, was back when I was around 12 years old. It has been way too long. I agree with you that some of the recipe seemed a bit cumbersome, but the rabbit was a wonderful addition.

    I will come back to check out the details of the cornbread post.

    • April 14, 2010 7:08 am

      Its funny to think of all the converted rabbit eaters coming out of daring cooks kitchens this month! I’ll definitely use it again myself!

  3. April 14, 2010 5:20 am

    Wow, I’m soooo impressed with all the home canned good that you included! I also made the stew with rabbit (and even made rabbit broth instead of chicken broth) – it was the first time I had rabbit and I thought it was amazing!

    • April 14, 2010 7:16 am

      Thank you! I turned into quite a canning fiend and my big problem is using them all up well so this was a perfect opportunity!
      Your rabbit broth sounds great, I’m heading over to take a look now!

  4. April 14, 2010 6:54 am

    Great job and your stew looks gorgeous. Love the post as well as the pictures.

  5. April 14, 2010 7:14 am

    Wow, kudos for following the recipe to the “T”! Adding rabbit was also a daring thing to do… i still can’t wrap my mind around eating rabbit :( But maybe i should try someday considering how much you enjoyed it. Your stew looks wonderful although it was hard work to make it. Great job on the challenge!

    • April 14, 2010 7:18 am

      I tend to like to try a recipe as specified the first time around, otherwise you never know if you are missing out on something you wouldn’t have thought of! I think you should give the rabbit a try, its just a matter of getting used to the idea!

  6. April 14, 2010 8:07 am

    Can I just say how much I love that red pot in the first picture??? I am so impressed with your stew, with your ingredients, with your DELICIOUS looking cornbread, and I will admit to a touch of pot envy… :) Love your post and youru beautiful pictures. Really amazing job on this challenge.

    • April 14, 2010 9:16 am

      Thanks Shelley. I actually had pot envy for years myself and got several le creusets free from a friend last year which was really awesome! She couldn’t use them because they have one of those smart cooktops that switches off if it doesn’t think there is a pot on the stove, and it somehow doesn’t sense the le creuset pot because it is a light color… her loss, my gain! so my advice is to make friends with people with smart cooktops!

  7. April 14, 2010 10:25 am

    Your stew looks great! And so does the cornbread. They just seem to be a match made in the South! Congrats on well done challenge. Can hardly wait for canning season myself.

    • April 14, 2010 8:42 pm

      Thanks Sarah:
      Canning season is almost here! Pickled asparagus could be pinging this weekend!

  8. April 14, 2010 10:42 am

    Eating pancakes with bacon sounds like my perfect day. Just add some golden syrup to that and you’re set! ;-) Looks like your stew turned out perfectly – great job on sticking to the recipe, I struggle to do that.

    • April 14, 2010 8:42 pm

      I agree: pancakes makes any day a good day! I struggle not to stick to recipes and wish I had your problem instead!

  9. April 14, 2010 11:40 am

    Wow, with your canned goods and quality meats it must taste divine.

    • April 14, 2010 8:44 pm

      I feel lucky to have access to such great meats and to have shelves full of canned goods. Fortunately I think the canvolution is spreading along with demand for organic and pasture raised meats so hopefully they’ll be accessible all over soon enough!

  10. April 14, 2010 1:26 pm

    Congratulations – It’s great that you were able to use your own canned vegetables; we were disappointed that corn, etc were not in season when we made this. The finished stew looks so rich and inviting, and I must make that cornbread some time!

    • April 14, 2010 8:45 pm

      I felt the same way about not being able to use seasonal veg and it took me a while to realise I had lots in cans. The corn and stock are a bit more difficult to put up as they need to be pressure canned but the tomatoes are a great starter canning project for anyone wanting to have them on hand for future stewing needs!!

  11. April 14, 2010 2:24 pm

    What a delicious looking stew! And that cornbread is amazing! Yummy!! Great job :)

    • April 14, 2010 8:46 pm

      Thanks. The cornbread truly is yummy: it was one of those five star epicurious recipes with rave reviews so you know you can’t go wrong!

  12. April 14, 2010 5:31 pm

    Lovely job! And even though I don’t like cornbread, yours looks yummy too!

    • April 14, 2010 8:48 pm

      Thank you for visiting and commenting, you have probably seen more brunswick stew than you ever imagined. But more especially, thank you for the challenge. It was a new discovery, as was the rabbit meat!

  13. April 15, 2010 2:35 pm

    You are brave with the rabbit cooking… I have never ventured that far! Nice work!

    As for the DB challenge, I am still procrastinating, we’ll see.

  14. April 17, 2010 12:38 am

    Your stew looks wonderful, and the cornbread takes it over the top. Wish I had some of the stew left.

    • April 17, 2010 11:48 am

      Thanks Cindy Ruth: I made so much of the stew I think it’ll take at least another batch of cornbread before I finish it! You must have more people eating at your home than I do!

  15. April 17, 2010 10:36 am

    Wow! Gorgeous pictures! I love, love your pot! Those cornbread looks so good! That is a scrumptious looking stew!

    How many hours did you make your stew? I made mine at least 4 hours started cooking the oxtail around 7ish in the morning. I halved the recipe since it’s only me and my husband. I always have homemade chicken stock ready, so, that helped. I left my oxtail intact , i only had to shred the wings and the legquarters of the chicken. I got done almost lunchtime, blogged them midnight. It was worth it.

    • April 17, 2010 11:47 am

      Thank you!
      I cooked mine for a long time as well, probably 4 or 5 hours… before that it was too soupy. I like leaving food cooking for a long time though, it always makes the flavor so intense! definitely worth it.
      i love oxtail, I need to cook it sometime soon!

  16. April 19, 2010 7:58 am

    Your stew turned out beautiful and as mentioned by many, your co-blogger’s photos are spectacular and really make one’s mouth water. Even though I was anti-bunny in my stew, I must admit, I don’t think I would be able to turn down a bowl of your stew with a hunk of that gorgeous cornbread.

    BTW, does Noerah have any tips on using artificial lighting for photos? I have no natural light due to a small forest surrounding my abode *sigh*, so I make do with Lowell Ego Lights, but they’re just not working for me.

    • April 20, 2010 9:56 pm

      I think your first mistake is calling it bunny: who can eat anything that sounds so cute?!

      Noerah pretty much always uses natural light – she says one day she’ll move on to artificial lighting but she’s not ready yet! Sorry we can’t help with this yet!

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