Brunswick Stew – mighty meaty
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.