One of my favorite items to order at a BBQ restaurant is Brunswick Stew. Georgia and Virginia both claim to be the inventors of the delicious stew, but I’m not a historian and can’t give either bragging rights. What I can tell you is that Brunswick Stew is different all around Georgia where I’ve lived most of my life and had the opportunity to enjoy it.
The restaurant that I grew up eating BBQ at blends its Brunswick Stew so that everything becomes one and the only recognizable part of it is a tiny piece of potato that you occasionally stumble across. Their stew isn’t sweet or smokey, but it’s delicious. I often blend my stew at home if I’m reminiscing on childhood meals, but lately I’ve stopped doing the blender method.
The stew that I now love to make at home is similar to the flavor and texture of a popular BBQ restaurant, Country’s BBQ, which is a small chain with a few locations in Columbus, Georgia, one in Lagrange, Georgia and another in Auburn, Alabama. I grew up right outside of Atlanta where most of the restaurants blend their stew. Country’s BBQ was the first place that I had ever ordered Brunswick Stew from where I could tell exactly what I was eating because everything in the stew was left whole and I loved that about it.
I don’t always have pork roast hanging around in the fridge or freezer so I don’t always use pork in my stew. To me the soup is delicious with chicken and the vegetables, but if I do make a large pork roast I will often save 2 – 3 cups of the meat to use in Brunswick Stew. If you’re not a pork fan, your stew will taste delicious with just chicken.
Something to note is that around the South Brunswick Stew is often served with sliced white bread or rolls, and Club crackers. It’s customary to dip the white bread in the stew and use it to mop up every last drop of the stew in your bowl. Use or lose this suggestion. I’ve got an excellent Cornbread Muffin recipe if you prefer to serve it with cornbread.
My stew is a little on the sweet side, but that’s how I like it. I don’t add extra sugar, but the ketchup and BBQ sauce that I add are both sweet. If you prefer a less sweet stew I suggest adding a little more Worcestershire Sauce, adding a stronger BBQ Sauce than the Honey BBQ that I use, and reduce the amount of ketchup. Taste and adjust the stew as you see fit and of course add in whatever beans you enjoy. I use baby lima beans but many people use black eyed peas or even okra.
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I didn’t add the amount for pork since the photos above are of the stew without pork, but you can use 2 cups of pork and 2 cups of chicken if you prefer.
Wash the vegetables and dice the onions into 1/4 inch pieces. I don’t peel my potatoes because I like the peel but if you prefer, peel your potatoes and then dice them up into 1/2 inch cubes. Dice the meat up into 1/4 inch diced cubes. If you are using shredded meat I still recommend chopping it into smaller pieces.
In a large stock pot over medium heat, add the chicken broth, parsley flakes, garlic and onion powder and half of the salt and pepper. Add the onions and potatoes and the creamed corn. I use a knife to cut the stewed tomatoes up in the can before adding them to the stew mixture. Add the stewed tomatoes and their juice. Use the empty tomato can to measure out a full can of frozen lima beans. Note – if your family loves corn, add a can of whole corn, drained.
Add the diced meat, Worcestershire Sauce, BBQ sauce, and ketchup. I add the full 1/2 cup of ketchup but you can start with less, taste the stew and add the full amount if you like it sweet.
Allow the stew to come up to a low rolling boil and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover the pot partially with the lid and continue to simmer the stew while stirring often for 30 – 45 minutes. Taste the Brunswick Stew and add more salt and pepper if desired and if it thickens up too much add a little more chicken broth if you want a thinner stew.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer. This is an excellent freezer meal and very easy to double if you’re feeding a crowd. If you decide to blend the stew allow it to cool and blend it in batches.
Note – If you want to use pork but don’t want to cook a roast, you can use canned BBQ pork or even the packaged shredded BBQ pork found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, but I would add it first and taste the stew before adding in the recommended BBQ sauce to make sure you don’t make the flavor too strong since those items already contain some BBQ sauce.