Daring Kitchen April 2010 – 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.

The Brunswick stew is a traditional stew from Southeastern America. It was quite timely as the cold weather has just started to kick in downunder. I had friends coming over for a dinner and it seems like a good idea to have as many willing guinea pigs as possible. But then again, it was a little stressful as there was not much room for error. So I decided to stick as closely to the recipe as possible. Fingers cross or there will be no dinner but instead hungry friends that may throw peanuts at me.

Unfortunately, there was no more wild rabbit in Victoria market so I settled for a farmed rabbit. This must be one of the fattest rabbit that I have ever seen. Rabbit meat is usually pretty lean but this was quite fat! Is that normal? Oh! And I have a pleasant surprise to find the liver and kidneys in the rabbit. I kept it for another day ;) You will find out where and how soon!

Smoked bacon

Smoked bacon

I was killing 2 birds with one stone with this recipe. I added more chicken and rabbit to what the recipe has intended for because I needed the rabbit and chicken meat for another recipe. Anyway, this is the original recipe and it is really one of the better stews that I have tasted. I never expected to have both rabbit and chicken in one dish. And it worked wonders.

Chopped rabbit pieces

Chopped rabbit pieces

Ingredients:
(To some line items, I have added notes to mark the difference in ingredients)

Serves about 12

  • 1/4 lb / 113.88 grams / 4 oz slab bacon, rough diced – I used smoked bacon. It was fantastic!
  • 2 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened – I just used fresh red chillies instead
  • 1lb / 455.52 grams / 16oz rabbit, quartered, skinned
  • 1 4-5lb / 1822.08- 2277.6 grams / 64-80oz chicken, quartered, skinned, and most of the fat removed - I bought chicken thighs and halved them
  • 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 stock
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 large celery stalks
  • 2lbs / 911.04 grams / 32oz 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
  • 2 cups / 459.84 grams / 16.152oz fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (about 4 ears)
  • 3 cups / 689.76 grams / 24.228oz butterbeans, preferably fresh (1 ¼ lbs) or canned
  • 1 35oz can / 996.45 grams / 4 cups whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
  • ¼ cup / 57.48 grams / 2.019 oz red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Tabasco sauce to taste
Brunswick stew in the pot

Brunswick stew in the pot

Method:

  1. In the largest stockpot you have, 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 chillies. 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 chillies, add more bacon fat if needed ( I did!), 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, chillies and rabbit. Set it aside.
  3. Add 2 cups of your chicken broth or stock, if you prefer, to the pan and basically deglaze the 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, chillies 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 chillies. 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. 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.
Brunswick stew

Brunswick stew

It was a huge pot of stew. I could feed my friends. No peanuts were thrown. And we brought it to work for lunch as well. And as the recipe said, leave it overnight. The flavours really intensified. It was a filling meal itself that it didn’t need any additional rice or bread. I have to thank Wolf for sharing this recipe. Some of the chicken and the rabbit that I reserved from this stew was also transformed into another beautiful dish. This is going to be a stew that I will be making over and over again. Too delicious :)

How do you prevent rabbit from drying out?