One-Pot Wonders

Classic Virginia Brunswick Stew

October 19, 2015
5 Ratings
Photo by onetinyspark
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 1.5 pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs (thighs are traditionally used)
  • 1.5 ounces fatback, cut into 4 long slabs
  • 4 cups cups of low sodium chicken stock (water is traditionally used)
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 3/4 - 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 14 ounces canned, crushed, no-salt-added tomatoes plus their juices
  • 14 ounces canned, drained butter beans (use fresh if in season)
  • 14 ounces canned, drained white shoe peg corn, drained (use fresh if in season)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Smoked paprika to taste
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Serve the stew hot and if you can’t eat it all, store it in the freezer (after it cools) for another day!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Aaron Zevgolis
    Aaron Zevgolis
  • Allison Gilbert
    Allison Gilbert
  • onetinyspark
  • Lenora

5 Reviews

Aaron Z. May 6, 2020
True Brunswick Stew calls for pork in addition to the chicken. I have helped make batches cooked in 40 gallon cast iron pots that boat oars are used to stir it (cooked by burning wood). Have done similar at more than one place and all have used both chicken and pork.
Aaron Z. May 6, 2020
I will add we cooked 6 of the 40 gallon pots at a time. So 240 gallons at a time.
Allison G. January 19, 2020
Thank you for posting this recipe. I grew up in southern VA where Brunswick Stew is a staple. I tried this last night and adapted it to cook in my pressure cooker. It was amazing. It tasted just like I remember!
onetinyspark January 19, 2020
I'm so happy this recipe worked for you! It means a lot since it is such a classic and is part of your history!
Lenora November 14, 2019
I have used this recipe for Brunswick Stew recipe for 40 years or more. I have added my own additions to it like Virginia Ham which gives this stew a distinctive taste and flavor. My children love it now passing on to my grandchildren. I add more spices to it for my taste. Do not be afraid to experiment!