Brunswick stew is a classic Southern dish that is a perfect hearty one-pot meal for this time of year. Its origins remind me a little of French peasant stews, made with whatever meats and seasonal vegetables are on hand. So I thought it would be a perfect dish to cook up in my favorite cookware from Le Creuset. Simple, nutritious and economical, the stew makes a great Sunday night supper, with leftovers for lunch on Monday (maybe!).
Preparing Brunswick Stew is quick and simple, but make this dish on the weekend so that you have time to cook it low and slow. I used a whole organic chicken and some gorgeous locally smoked ham shanks, although pork shoulder is the more traditional meat to use. Lima beans, corn, onions and potatoes are the traditional veggies for Brunswick stew. For my stew, we brought home frozen veggies from our farmers market. I also had ripe jalapenos and fresh herbs from the garden, but you can use red pepper flakes and dried herbs as well. Stews are great for experimenting and using what you have on hand.
Brown up the chicken pieces in a little olive oil. Once the chicken is browned, take it out of the pot and set it aside. Then in the same pot, gently cook the onions, garlic, and jalapeno until they are soft. Add the fresh thyme and bay leaf, and cook for another couple of minutes.
Add all the vegetables, the meats, your favorite barbecue sauce and the chicken stock, and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to a low simmer. If you are feeling adventurous, add the anchovies, too. I promise you will not taste them at all, but they will kick up all the savory flavors in the stew and make it magnificent!
Turn the heat to low and gently simmer the stew until the meat is almost falling from the bones. I left our stew on a very low simmer for several hours, and the house smelled warm and wonderful. When you are ready to eat, remove the meat from the stew, and once it is cool enough to handle, remove all bones and shred the meat. Return the meat to the stew and heat until warmed through. Serve the stew with some crusty bread to sop up all the goodness. Enjoy!
Classic Brunswick Stew
¼ cup olive oil
1 whole chicken, preferably organic cut into 8 pieces
1-2 lb. smoked ham shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped
2-3 Jalapeno peppers (seeds and veins removed if you don’t like the heat), chopped fine
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
1 lb. fresh or frozen corn
1 lb. fresh or frozen lima beans
4 cups chicken stock
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite tomato-based barbecue sauce
2-3 anchovies, rinsed (optional)
Heat oil in an 8-qt. Le Creuset French oven or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper brown in the oil, turning once. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add thyme, and bay leaf; cook for 2 minutes. Add chicken and pork to pot along with all the vegetables and the chicken stock; bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until meat is tender and potatoes begin to fall apart, about 1 hour. Remove meat from pot, shred with two forks; return to pot. Simmer on very low heat until ready to serve.