Brunswick Stew is a traditional Southern dish that dates back centuries. Although there is much debate over its origins, as well as the correct ingredients, it is well agreed that a heavy cast iron pot is the only acceptable vessel for this meat-and-vegetable stew. This Southern Brunswick Stew recipe, courtesy of cookbook author James Villa, is excerpted from The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook (Oxmoor House, 2012).
Southern Brunswick Stew Recipe
serves 8 to 10
4 bacon slices
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (6-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
2 celery ribs (with leaves), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 medium smoked ham hock, trimmed
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
1 small dried red chile, seeded and minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen sliced okra
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen baby lima beans
1 1/2 cups mashed cooked potatoes (optional)
1. Place a large cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain, reserving drippings in skillet; crumble the bacon and set aside.
2. Add the oil to the bacon drippings in the pan and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, brown on all sides and transfer to a platter. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, celery, and carrot; cook 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Return the chicken to the pan and add the ham hock, tomatoes with juices, chile, Worcestershire, paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Add enough water to cover the ingredients by 1 inch and stir. Bring to a steady simmer, skimming any scum off the surface; cover and cook slowly until the chicken is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Skim any excess fat from top.
4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and ham hock to the platter; when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the bones and any skin. Shred the meats and return to the pan. Add the corn, okra, lima beans, and reserved bacon. Simmer, uncovered, about 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes for the first half-hour and then frequently, to prevent the ingredients from scorching on the bottom of the pan.
5. Add the mashed potatoes, if desired, and cook, stirring, until the stew is thickened, about 15 minutes. Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning. Ladle the stew into large soup bowls.
More Recipes from The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook:
• Roasted Corn Pudding
• Seasonal Breakfast Frittata
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission from The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook, published by Oxmoor House, 2012.