(From the American Heritage Cookbook)
Unbeknownst to most of us now days, there has been an ongoing lay-of-claim to this well known recipe. The all out feud has been between Brunswick County, North Carolina, and Brunswick County, Virginia. Unfortunately, an undisputed documented case happens to be in Virginia’s favor dating way back to 1828. The story goes, Dr. Creed Haskins, who was from Mount Donum, was a member of Virginia’s State Legislature. During this time, he was the sponsor of a political rally and he wanted something very special to serve. Turns out, he had his heart set on a squirrel stew made once for him by Jimmy Mathews – squirrel being the primary ingredient in Brunswick Stew at one time. Creed loved the stew so much, he couldn’t think of anything better to serve. Now while chicken has come to replace the “squirrel”, believe it or not, Brunswick stew was to Political Rallies (held by both Whigs and Democrats), Family Reunions, Cockfights, Tobacco Curings and pretty much every other Virginia Gathering during that time, what Turkey is to Christmas and Thanksgiving (now days). In honor of that, I give to you the historical Recipe—leaving the Squirrel optional unless you’re from the South and happen to have a mess of Squirrel lying around. winks
Remember, these recipes are from scratch—meaning EVERYTHING is from scratch. Back then, people couldn’t just pop by their local grocery store for a can of whatever.
- Two 3 pound Chickens, cut into pieces
- 2 pounds shin bone of Beef or Veal
- 1 Ham bone from a baked Virginia or Country Ham
- 1 Squirrel cut into pieces (optional)
- 3 quarts of Water
- 1/2 cup of Sugar1 Bay Leaf
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 2 tablespoon of chopped Parsley
- 2 sliced Onion
- 4 cups of chopped Tomatoes (without skins)
- 2 cups of chopped celery (can use tops)
- 2 cups of Butter Beans or Lima
- 4 cups of Corn
- 1/2 cup of Butter
- 1 pod crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon of coarse Black Pepper
- 4 large Potatoes, pared and boiled until tender
- Put chicken, beef or veal bone, ham bone, squirrel, water, sugar, bay leaf, basil and parsley in a large soup kettle. Cook over a low heat until meat is tender and falling off the bones.
- Remove meat from broth and cool.
- While meat is cooling, add onions, tomatoes, celery and beans to the broth. Cook until beans are tender.
- Once meat cools, remove it from the bones. Cut into small pieces and add it back to the broth.
- Add corn.
- Simmer for ten minutes and then add butter, red pepper pod and black coarse pepper. Add salt to taste.
- Work potatoes through a ricer or blender, then, stir into stew. Stir constantly for 15 minutes until the mixture is the consistency of mush. Serves 20.
NOTES: Now a days, people don’t stir or work their soups into “mush” so much as they did in 1828. So feel free to leave that part out.