If you have ever lived in south or central Virginia, it is likely you have heard of Brunswick stew. Until I moved to Richmond and started to date my husband, I had no knowledge of the thick tomato, potato, butter bean concoction. But once I did hear of it, I quickly realized that it is an institution in those parts (there are annual Brunswick Stew Festivals all over the state). A classic, beloved dish that is so satisfying it can cure any winter blues. This recipe is inspired by the taste of "Mrs. Fearnow’s Delicious Brunswick Stew with Chicken” (in the yellow can) and adapted from the Brunswick Stewmaster’s Association of Brunswick County, Virginia —onetinyspark
boneless chicken breast or thighs (thighs are traditionally used)
fatback, cut into 4 long slabs
cups of low sodium chicken stock (water is traditionally used)
Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
yellow onion, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 teaspoons
kosher salt, or to taste
3/4 - 1 tablespoons
canned, crushed, no-salt-added tomatoes plus their juices
canned, drained butter beans (use fresh if in season)
canned, drained white shoe peg corn, drained (use fresh if in season)
unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Place the chicken and fatback in a large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour. Discard the fatback, and help the chicken shred (it will happen easily) in the pot with two forks.
Next, add in the potatoes, onions, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt and sugar. Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the potatoes are soft – roughly 30 minutes or so.
After, stir in the tomatoes, their juices and the butter beans. Cook for another 15-20 minutes and then stir in the corn and butter pieces. Let the stew cook on low, uncovered, for an hour longer so it becomes nice and thick.
Serve the stew hot and if you can’t eat it all, store it in the freezer (after it cools) for another day!