Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve looked forward to cold weather because I know it means our family will cook Brunswick Stew. The recipe has been in my family for generations, but this particular one is credited to my Great Granny Burnette. She is 95 years old and was born and raised in Oxford, NC where she still lives. At the annual family reunion, Granny would cook a pot of her amazing Brunswick Stew which can feed a crowd.
According to Brunswick County Historians, Brunswick Stew was developed in 1828 by chef Jimmy Matthews. Since then, it has been prepared and altered by many stew masters. Also referred to as “Virginia ambrosia”, the stew can be made in large batches and has been served at many fundraisers, church functions, family reunions and political pep rallies.
I went home to Tallahassee, FL last weekend to visit my parents. My grandparents came in town along with my aunt, uncle and cousin so there was a full house! My mom decided it would be a great opportunity to make a pot of granny’s Brunswick Stew since we had so many guests for the weekend so she pulled out her grandmother’s cast iron wash pot and started cooking. Thankfully we had leftovers, so I headed back to my home in Gainesville, FL after the weekend with extra stew to enjoy throughout the week.
Granny’s Brunswick Stew Recipe
(compliments of my great grandmother, Laura Burnette)
Makes 48 qts. of stew – This recipe is designed to feed a crowd and requires a very large wash pot/stew pot so be sure to scale it down accordingly as needed.
- 4 small or 3 large hens (about 10-12 lbs)
- 10 pounds of beef chuck (boneless) or 12 pounds beef chuck (with bones)
- It’s best to use bone in beef chuck to use in the bottom of the pot which helps prevent sticking. As the butcher for extra bones if boneless chuck isn’t available.
- 8 pounds of pork – boneless or Boston Butt
- 2 gallons butter beans (these will cook to pieces)
- 8 pounds of onions
- 1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper
- Salt – to taste
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 gallons tomatoes – crushed or chopped
- 36 oz. of ketchup
- 2 lbs butter
- 10 pounds potatoes
- 2 gallons of shoe peg white corn
- Precook the meat the night before. Put meat in a large pot. Pour enough water over the meat until it is covered. Bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 1 hour. Refrigerate meat and broth until ready to make the stew.
- In a large cast iron pot, combine precooked meats, broth, beef bones, butter beans, onions, red pepper salt and sugar. Add water until the meat is covered.
- Cook over low heat for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
- Add tomatoes, ketchup, potatoes and butter and cook for 1 hour (or until potatoes are soft enough to mash on the side of the pot).
- Add corn and cook for 30 more minutes. Stir every few minutes after adding corn to avoid sticking to the pot.
- Serve in bowls and enjoy!
- Serve with Saltine Crackers or white loaf bread.
- Have Tobasco sauce ready for those who like an extra kick.
- This stew is great for freezing leftovers and enjoying later.
- This recipe can be scaled down significantly and made in a large stock pot on the stove.