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Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Origin of Brunswick Stew - An Authentic 19th Century Recipe

Old Virginia Brunswick Stew

“We crossed the stream upon a shaking plank laid from bank to bank, and strolled down the slope to the scene of operations. An immense kettle was swung over a fire of logs that were so many living coals. The smell of Brunswick stew had been wafted to us while we leaned on the fence. A young man, who had the reputation of being an epicure, to the best of his knowledge and ability, superintended the manufacture of the famous delicacy. “Two dozen chickens went into it!” he assured us. “They wanted to make me think it couldn’t be made without green corn and fresh tomatoes. I knew a trick worth two of that. I have worked it before with dried tomatoes and dried sweet corn soaked overnight.” He smacked his lips and winked fatuously.”

This brief account of an 1844 barbecue held in Richmond, Virginia describes a scene that was typical of such events in the nineteenth century. Smoke lingering in the tops of trees, the enticing aroma of roasting meat in the air and the large kettle of simmering “barbecue stew” was a scene repeated over and over again all across the American South. The phrase “barbecue stew” refers not to a stew made of barbecued meats. Rather, it is a stew that was (and still is) traditionally cooked and served along with barbecue and it differs from region to region.

For the rest of the article and the recipe, navigate over to the Smoke Signals Barbecue Magazine site and check out the latest issue 13. In it I discuss the origins of Brunswick Stew, the modern Brunswick Stew rivalry between Virginia and Georgia, and the recipe for an authentic, 19th century Virginia Brunswick stew.

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