Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April Daring Cook's Challenge - New Brunswick Stew

Kitchen shears are my new favorite utensil.
Why are they my new favorite utensil?  Well, I was having a wrestling match with a 3lb chicken and it was winning - until I remembered the kitchen shears. The beautiful, sleek, seriously sharp kitchen shears. They sliced right through those chicken bones with ease and grace as if to say why have you been struggling with this for the better part of 20 minutes? Weakling.
Lesson one: Don't underestimate the kitchen shears.
Lesson two: Read a recipe before you buy the ingredients - or you could just do what I did.
I bought all my ingredients (so I thought), set aside a night to cook and serve the meal, and of course, left no time for errors or extra runs to the supermarket. Then, just as I went to start cooking at 4:30 Monday afternoon, I realized I should have bought 3lbs of chicken breasts, some quantity of 3 other meats, lima beans and a can of whole peeled tomatoes. I had none of the above, but I did have plenty of homemade chicken stock in my freezer. I thought for a few minutes, decided I would cut my chicken into pieces, use the ground sirloin that I already had defrosting and just flat out make my own recipe. I know I was supposed to use one of the two recipes provided by the Daring Cook's Host but I was out of time and options. I made it up as I went and it came out quite good. Hopefully the Daring Kitchen police won't be too angry. 

Not-Even-A-Little-Bit-Traditional Brunswick Stew

New Brunswick Stew is a modern adaption of Brunswick Stew (squirrel stew). It replaces squirrel with rabbit and also includes several other meats like pork and chicken. I've eaten rabbit once before but I've never cooked it. Unfortunately, there is no butcher in Binghamton and short of killing your own that's the only place you'll find rabbit meat. I did check Wegmans just in case but when I asked if they could order it for me, the kid working behind the meat counter looked at me as if I was seriously disturbed. The answer was obviously: no crazy lady, we don't sell cute, furry, backyard animals. I even tried to get a friend to hunt one for me. He hunts plenty of deer and other animals but declined on the rabbit citing them as too cute and furry. By this point I officially felt like a horrible, soul-less person trying to kill cute and furry animals. I gave up and went with chicken and beef.

 I used homemade BBQ Sauce because Jason made 7 quarts of of it from the Dinosaur BBQ cookbook. In case you are wondering 7 quarts is a TON of BBQ sauce and we've been doing everything short of drinking it to try to use it all up. I encourage you to use the Paul Purdome Chicken Seasoning because it really is the best. I use it on everything but if you can't find it you can replace it with hot paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Serves 6-8

1 onion
2 leeks chopped
1 lb boneless chicken breast
1 lb chicken thighs (bone-in)
1 lb lean ground sirloin
4 cups chicken broth (I used homemade)

Paul Purdome chicken seasoning 
red cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves

28oz butter beans
1 14oz can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 cups spicy BBQ sauce (see headnote)
1 pound frozen green peas
10oz frozen baby corn

A few tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat pastry but white is fine)

kosher salt

In a large dutch oven (mine is 5 1/2 quarts), sauté the onion and leeks in olive oil until just soft
add the chicken and season generously with chicken spice. Cook about 5 minutes, flipping the pieces half way through.
Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add ground sirloin to the pan and cook until just brown but not cooked through
Add chicken back to the pan
Add chicken broth, bay leaves, and a dash of cayenne pepper.
Cover and bring to boil.

Cook for about 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through and easy to shred.
Remove chicken pieces and shred the meat. Remove the drumstick and thigh bones and return shredded meat to the pot.
Add beans, BBQ sauce and diced tomatoes.
Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
At this point it will still be pretty thin.
Put a few tablespoons of the flour in a small bowl and whisk in about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of liquid from the pot. When the mixture is smooth stir it back into the pot and continue to simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes. If it's still too thin repeat the process and simmer for another few minutes. 
Remove the bay leaves and throw them out.

At this point I covered it and turned off the heat for about a half an hour to wait for my friends to come over. This step isn't necessary but it did help thicken it up a great deal. 

If you skip this step then just stir in the peas and corn, cook until both are hot and serve.
If you choose to let it sit like I did, add the peas and corn and bring it back to simmer until heated through.
Serve with a good chunk of crusty bread. The leftovers store well in the fridge and freezer and taste even better the second day.


  1. Ok, I confess that up until reading this post, I had no clue what Brunswick Stew was, and really, I should turn my culinary diploma to the wall in shame.

    I'd even seen in on a menu recently, and remember thinking 'What the heck is THAT?' Oh the agony. The sorrow. My life evolves around food. I had no clue. So thanks. I do know now. Your stew looks amazing, even if it isn't authentic.

  2. Thanks Kate! Oh and don't feel bad, I have never even HEARD of it until I read this month's challenge...and yea my life revolves around food too. I'm just really not well versed in southern food I guess. I guess we both learned something!


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