Brunswick Stew ~ A Family Favorite Recipe

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Of the dishes you make how many are family recipes?  I often think that favorite recipes are always the handed down ones written on old index cards.  As I looked at my family's favorite dishes that I make over and over, I realized most of them are new to us.  There are really no recipes that I make that are from my mom or grandmother.  Most likely because my mom was not a cook; she was a secretary who made meals for five children and her own mother after she came home from a long day on her feet.  Dinner was usually something inexpensive, simple, and quick, like dried out hamburgers.  No cheese, that would have been too costly.  Don't get me wrong.  I have an immense awe for what my mom did for us and now realize how difficult it is to cook a pleasant meal for a whole family, every night!

I do see the influence of my mother's cooking on the recipes I love.  They are directly inspired by dishes my mom made when I was a child.  Brunswick stew was a staple in her kitchen.  If you aren't familiar with this stew, it is like a thick vegetable soup with meat. She made a typical Virginian Brunswick stew with lots of chicken and lima beans.  Sadly, when I was served this for dinner, I would hide it in my drink cup underneath a crumpled up paper napkin.

My children have clear drink glasses that I can easily see the contents of so no hiding unwanted food for them.  Though there is no need in the case of Brunswick stew; they aren't as hostile to this southern classic as their live in cook.  Sure, the tomato soup appearance and the quantity of vegetables may strike them and make them a bit hesitant at first glance.  But every time {no exaggeration}, every time~ they finish their bowls by the sway of their own taste buds.

The difference? The addition of barbecue sauce and some ground pork.  I learned this from a restaurant.  A tremendous flavor, sweet and smokey, is added with the barbecue sauce. And the ground pork just gives a contrasting texture to the smooth vegetables and stew.  My six~year~old commented how he "really does not like lima beans except in this stew."

Throughout the fall and winter this stew reappears at the dinner table {and sometimes if lunch when there is rarely enough left}.  Sometimes I start from scratch with my own roasted chicken. Or I plan to use leftovers like Christmas turkey.  And southern style green beans, the ones I simmer with bacon for hours are great in this stew.  Just gather between 6~8 cups of vegetable {green beans, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes are all good choices} and about 4 cups of shredded or chopped poultry {turkey, chicken or even pork work} and you have the foundation of a great dinner.  Your family won't even know that you are using up leftovers!  Don't forget corn muffins or bread.  Can you say mmmmmm?

Family Favorite Brunswick Stew
1 lb ground meat {recommend ground pork}
1 lb poultry {about 3 chicken breasts or 4 c meat}, cooked and chopped or shredded
1 lb frozen lima beans
1 lb frozen corn kernals
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1.5 cup bbq sauce {recommend Sweet Baby Rays}
salt, pepper, thyme to season
chicken broth, as needed
shredded cheddar to garnish as desired

Brown ground pork in skillet; drain fat and set aside.  Heat olive oil in stew pot or dutch oven.  Saute onion and bell pepper.  Add browned meat, shredded poultry, and crushed tomatoes.  Season with salt, pepper and thyme.  Heat to simmer.  Add frozen {or leftover} vegetables; as they heat, the frozen veggies will thaw and thin the stew a bit.  After it has all simmered, add chicken broth if you want a thinner stew.   Continue to simmer for 45 minutes to an hour to allow flavors to blend and stew to thoroughly heat.  Alternately, after meat is browned and the veggies sauted, add all ingredients to a crock pot and heat on low setting for 5~8 hours.


  1. Anonymous2:47 PM

    Hey this looks really yummy but how many people is the recipe for? It sounds like a lot of meat, so perhaps for a big family? Thanks! :)

    1. Hi! I'm awful about figuring out how many servings my recipes serve. Our family, at home right now, is 8 {including a toddler} and it serves us with about 2 serving left over. I would say it is about 10~12 servings. It is a very thick stew, not soupy. Hope this helps!


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