Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brunswick Stew

Growing up, Brunswick Stew was always a favorite. My godmother, Mary Virginia, always had a fantastic recipe. Recently, she shared it with my mom, who shared it with me. The best part? It's still as wonderful and comforting and yet, it's not a difficult recipe! I'm posting her original recipe, along with my tweaks, which someone said make it Brunswitt Stew. From the reviews I got at the church supper, I'll take it. And without further ado, Brunswick Stew!

Brunswick Stew a la Mary Virginia
- 1 package (4 halves) chicken breasts, with skin and bones-- add more water if you find a value pack with 5 halves!
- 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
- 4 medium potatoes, diced (I used red most recently, and they were lovely. Yukon Golds would be delicious as well.)
- 1 average sized onion, chopped
- 2 cans butterbeans (I used one bag of frozen butterbeans, aka baby limas, and it was perfect.)
- 2 cans whole-grain white corn (I used 2 of the cans of white shoepeg corn, which are small but have a lot of corn in them!)
- 1 stick margarine (I switched to butter, just the regular salted variety.)
- salt and pepper to taste
- small amount of sugar (which I didn't add because I didn't think it was needed, plus I like my stew more savory.)

ALW additions:
- chicken stock if you need a little extra liquid later in cooking (I used unsalted.)
- tomato paste (the kind in the tube, which you should always have on hand, unless you cannot eat tomatoes!)

Salt and pepper each chicken breast, then cover with water in a large pot. You only want water to cover, but add more liquid later if you feel you need it or want a more brothy soup.

Add some more salt and pepper to the water as the chicken cooks as this is making your chicken stock. You want it flavorful!

When cooked, remove the chicken breasts and set aside to cool. Skim the stock of surface fat (schmaltz!). Save the schmaltz if you'll make authentic matzo ball later; otherwise, let it cool and trash it.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, butterbeans, and onions to the stock. Let simmer.

While this is cooking, take the cooled chicken and peel off the skin. You can either chop the chicken or simply pull it off of the bone into small pieces. You can guess which one I did.

Add the chicken back to the pot and bring to a boil. Let cook until the potatoes are tender.

Add the corn, being careful to stir the pot frequently as the corn will stick to the pan otherwise.

Check for seasonings (here's where you would add the chicken stock and/or tomato paste, should you feel you need it.) and then ladle into bowls to serve. It's delicious with ham biscuits or cornbread on the side.

This reheats very well, often tasting even better the next day, and also freezes beautifully.

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