Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Spring Version of Brunswick Stew, for The Daring Cooks' Challenge

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.

Brunswick stew is a traditional dish from the southeastern United States. Debate exists as to the origin of the dish. Brunswick County, Virginia, claims to be the home of the original, created in 1928.  A plaque on a pot in Brunswick, Georgia, states the first Brunswick stew was cooked in that pot in 1898, on nearby St. Simons Island.

Recipes vary, but it is usually a tomato-based stew, containing lima beans, corn, onions, potatoes, and one or more types of meat. Most authentic recipes call for squirrel or rabbit, but chicken, pork, and beef are also used.

I've prepared Mario Batali's Braised Stuffed Rabbit Legs with Walnuts, Prosecco, Dried Cherries and Apricots, and it was quite delicious.  I have not yet prepared any recipes calling for Squirrel, and don't think I will anytime in the foreseeable future.

For this Daring Cooks' Challenge, I chose to adapt the recipe from the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook, into a lighter, Italian-inspired, Spring version, using chicken and a few different varieties of vegetables.

We are enjoying beautiful Spring weather, and I wasn't in the mood for a thick, hearty, bowl of stew.  Can you blame me, when these beauties were calling out to me during our Saturday morning stroll through the Little Italy Farmers' Market??  I also found some fresh, white corn and sweet, baby Roma tomatoes.

Spring Brunswick Stew, for two...

Spring Brunswick Stew
Serves 4


4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
6 bone-in, skinned, chicken thighs  (rinsed and patted dry)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup Italian white wine
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlics, peeled and crushed
2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 ears of corn
1 cup fresh shelled favas
10-12 small Cipollini onions, outer skin peeled and hard roots cut off
1 package, about 2 cups, fresh baby Roma tomatoes
8-10 assorted small fingerling and baby potatoes
A few drizzles of olive oil
1 Tablespoon Sherry or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Dash of Chipotle Tabasco, to taste
2 Tbsp. Chopped Italian parsley for garnish


In a Dutch Oven, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a paper towel to drain.

Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.  Brown chicken in rendered bacon fat, over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add pinch of red pepper, carrots and celery to the pan, and cook over medium-high for about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.  Add chicken broth and wine, scraping up any brown bits from the pan, and simmer for about 5 minutes, allowing to reduce slightly.  Return chicken thighs to the pan, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 minutes.

This is before covering and braising (meaty side down)

While the chicken is cooking, preheat oven to 375 F.  Place cipollini onions and tomatoes on one side of a baking sheet, and place the potatoes on the other side.  Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss gently to coat.

Roast for 30 minutes, keeping the potatoes separated from the onions and tomatoes.

In a saute pan, add another drizzle of olive oil and saute the favas and corn together for about 5 minutes.  When the tomatoes and onions are roasted, add them to the fava and corn mixture and gently combine.

These are the favas beans after removing from the pods and blanching.  You then must shell them again to pop out the bright green, sweet, inner bean.  Here's a link on how to shell fresh favas, here.

When chicken is done braising, remove it from the Dutch Oven and tent with foil to keep warm.

To the braising liquid, add Sherry vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of Chipotle Tabasco, and simmer for another few minutes.  Carefully pour liquid into a blender and blend until smooth.  Pass through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids, and reserving the sauce.

To plate, spoon the fava, corn, tomato and onion "succotash" into shallow serving bowls, top with 1-2 chicken thighs, arrange a few potatoes around the edge, spoon sauce over the top of the chicken, and garnish with bacon and chopped Italian parsley.


You can find the original Challenge recipes in The Daring Kitchen Recipe Archives, here.

Thank you, Wolf, for hosting this month's Daring Cooks' Challenge!  The flavor combinations in this dish were wonderful, and I hope you find my Spring version an interesting variation of the Lee Bros.' recipe.


Marisa said...

I love your photo of the two bowls of stew with the flowers - so pretty! And your spring version is a great twist on a heavy stew.

Jo said...

Great job on your challenge and love your version of this. The stew looks delicious and I certainly wouldn't mind having some more.

anjelikuh said...

WOW, what a great take on Brunswick stew. Love how you incorporated such beautiful looking spring veggies. And your presentation of the stew looks amazing, great job!

Asha @ FSK said...

Love your interpretation of the stew! much more inline with the season.. ooh! cipollini onions.. i love them!!

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen said...

I love your seasonal interpretation of this dish - those fava beans look beautiful, they're just coming in at out local farmers market. Great job!

Wolf said...

1828, silly, not 1928.}:P

I absolutely love that you did a deconstructed version of this Challenge! It looks stunning!

climbhighak said...

After seeing your photos in the forums, I was really looking forward to seeing your entire post. Access to such great produce is almost enough to entice me away from the Arctic. Almost.

Your treatment and technique in this dish is amazing and looks outstanding. Great post.

Lynnylu said...

I like your lighter version and I love the photo of the flowers, bowls of stew and spoons. Brunswick stew is great in the winter, but when I made it, we had some really hot days, so it didn't quite appeal to me at that time. Still, it's a very tasty stew and works well with ordinary supermarket veggies. Don't think I could eat the squirrel either. Thanks for commenting on my blog.