Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Look Ma - No Hands! a.k.a Brunswick Stew

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Stew. When the challenge was posted, I wasn't real excited. It had been warming up and it seemed like soup time was past. Obviously, I'm still getting used to the moody weather. Weather here has been on again, off again. One day it's gorgeous sun and the next it's biting winds. Lately, it's been the windy one more often than not. Brunswick Stew was beginning to sound pretty good!

Before our last move, I gave away all of my spices, herbs and generally, anything that came in a bottle, bag or tin that could be used to flavor food. I figured it was just extra weight and I could buy new after we settled in.


I forgot that we might want to eat real food...maybe even cook it once in awhile. Slowly, I have been building up my pantry sidekicks. I never realized how diverse my collection was. I rarely had to purchase much even when trying new recipes. I've signed up (again) with the Daring Bakers and this time with the Daring Cooks. Think my collection will be up to par soon!

It's been a crazy month and although I planned and prepped to make this recipe, I didn't actually have time to get it together until today...with that said, I did make a few adjustments, accounting for items I didn't have readily available and those I didn't read correctly!

Thankfully, Wolf gave plenty of room for interpretation and 2 recipes to choose from. I took the path of least resistance for this one and used most of the ingredients from the more time consuming recipe and basically tossed it all in the slow cooker on my way to work. I must say it was good!

Mmmm...slow cooker potatoes...

Recipe One, the Long Way-From “The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-Be Southerners” by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

Serves about 12

1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced (Forgot to thaw it! Didn't use.)
2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned (Didn't have any turkey or rabbit. Although, I suppose I could have snared a few from the neighbors is spring time and the bunnies are everywhere!)

1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed
1 Tablespoon / 14.235 grams / ½ oz sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
2-3 quarts / 8-12 cups / 64.607-96.9oz Chicken Broth (used Organic Free Range Chicken Broth - it was on sale.)
2 Bay leaves
2 large celery stalks
2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
1 ½ cups / 344.88 grams / 12.114oz carrots (about 5 small carrots), chopped
3 ½ / 804.72 grams / 28.266oz cups onion (about 4 medium onions) chopped (I only used 1/2 a baseball sized onion)
2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears) (used canned - I was getting ready for work!)
3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or defrosted frozen (used canned limas - working on the pantry items, remember?)
1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained (used diced...didn't have time to squish the chunks!)
¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar (oops! did it say VINEGAR? I thought it said vino...)
Juice of 2 lemons (totally forgot this one until I started working on the post LOL)
Tabasco sauce to taste (prefer and used there such a thing as too much garlic?)

The only thing I added to the recipe was Italian sausage...was craving it. Used two sweet links and one hot. Thinking when I reheat it tomorrow that I'm going to add some spinach. haha. No, really.
Recipe directions taken from the challenge:
1-In the largest stockpot you have, which is hopefully larger than the 5 qt ones I have, preferably a 10-12 qt or even a Dutch Oven if you’re lucky enough to have one, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.

2- Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and rabbit. Set it aside.

3- Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the4 pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Supposedly, the stock may become a yellow tinge with pieces of chicken or rabbit floating up, the celery will be very limp, as will the chiles. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.

4- With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and rabbit pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf, celery, chiles, bacon and discard.5 After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.

5- Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. As you add the tomatoes, crush them up, be careful not to pull a me, and squirt juice straight up into the air, requiring cleaning of the entire stove. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.

6- you can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.

And basically what I did was...poured the broth into the slow cooker, turned it on high, then...
1- browned the chicken and the sausage with some seasonings, the onions and the serranos. Cut the meat into chunks, toss the whole mess into the broth.
2- Deglazed the pan with the vino and poured it all into the cooker.
3- Chunk the fresh vegetables. Put them in.
4- Open the canned stuff (drained the corn and limas) and add it to the mix.
I know, it doesn't sound glam, but trust me! I left it on high for an hour and then switched it to low on my way out the door.
When I got home the plan was to make a salad and some quick rolls for sides, but after only 4 hours of sleep and a skipped lunch, I figured that was a little much.
Eaten "as is." Yum.
(Now there is a bit of a test with Brunswick Stew...does your spoon stand up? Mine did in the slow cooker...and the bowl!)

I didn't really believe the whole "spoon standing in the stew" bit, so here's my practice with a plastic spoon!
(pictures taken after we had eaten...I was hungry!)

This is with a heavy metal spoon...hum with me now...I'm still standing!

I'm already looking foward to the next challenge. Thanks Wolf!

What have you been eating lately?


1 comment:

  1. WOW! Thanks...I would love to try this! I'm in Erie, PA at the moment for my husband to go to school and I am missing my southern food! I'll have to jot down the name of that cookbook and pick it up.
    I'm about to head to the kitchen to make banana bread, so that's what I'll be eating today! Thanks for sharing!!!


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