Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew is a dish that seems to vary depending upon your location. While the history of this stew is complicated with many interesting, and sometimes wholly inaccurate stories, the fundamentals of the base of this remain the same. This is primarily a tomato based stew; the primary ingredient that is used for protein will differ depending upon where you live.

Brunswick stew
Brunswick stew

Just consider the stew to be a thick tomato soup with meat, that is probably the best approximation for this and probably the best way to describe it for those that haven’t grown up in an area where this is served. Whatever meat you choose to use will really be up to your personal taste, you can easily get away with using chicken, rabbit, or even squirrel if you can stomach it.

To add complexity and depth to this Brunswick Stew  you could use some remaining smoked pork or even smoked chicken. The smoked meats would add a flavor that you would typically find in the south and honestly you would do yourself a favor by taking the time to give that depth of flavor to this dish. Many dishes in the south take time to cook, they are slow to make but delicious and complex. Taking shortcuts is really doing yourself and this dish a disservice.

Ingredients for Brunswick stew

  • 1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces, skin removed
  • 1 pound meaty smoked ham hocks or smoked ham
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 medium-sized green bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 pounds fresh or frozen lima (or young butter) beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon or more ground chipotle (or other smoked, hot chili pepper)
  • 1 pound fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels (the “Silver Queen” variety is particularly good here)
  • 1 tablespoon hickory-flavored barbeque sauce (yes, I’m serious)
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


The first step is the following: In a large pot add the chicken, ham hock, and water with the chicken broth and simmer at a low temperature until the meat has become very tender. The meat should be fall of the bone tender and very easy to eat without the use of a knife. Remove the meat from the pot and allow it to cool down, this is to ensure for easy shredding of the meat. Once the meat has cooled down enough shred it using two forks or however you normally shred meat.

The second step is the following: In a frying pan add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic and heat the onions and the rest of the mixture until the onions have become golden brown. Next add this onion mix along with the lima beans, crushed red pepper, and ground chipotle, along with the tomatoes to the chicken broth and meat from the first step in this recipe. You only need to simmer until the lima beans are tender so it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes at the most.

The final step is the following: Add the barbeque sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper along with the corn to the pot and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

This Brunswick stew recipe should serve 8 people as a main course, however, if you are really hungry it may not last the night.

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