Recipe Time: Brunswick Stew

Brunswick stew is a frequent side dish at barbecue places, especially in North Carolina, where at places like Parker’s in Wilson, Brunswick Stew is part of the rhythm of life.

I have never made Brunswick stew, but I do have a recipe from a cookbook written by my maternal grandmother, Nana, aka Selma Shadburn Griffin:

Boil one hog head until tender. Boil a hen until tender. Remove meat from bones and cut up fine, mashing hog head meat, tongue, etc. Remove excess grease from chicken stock, add the meat, 2 cans of corn, 3 cans of tomatoes, 3 tablespoons of ketchup, ½ cup of barbecue sauce, 1 lemon sliced, rind and all. Salt and pepper to taste. Usually the barbecue sauce furnishes enough pepper. Add 2-3 chopped onions. Cook on medium heat at least an hour, stirring frequently to keep from sticking.

I wonder if she just forgot about the lima beans.  Brunswick stew should have lima beans.

This recipe is from the fall of 1946, and was included because my parents and their neighbors were slaughtering a couple of hogs they had acquired. They had planned to sell them, but prices started falling. Thus the ready availability of a fully equipped hogs head and its use as opposed to, say, squirrel.

The only barbecue sauce recipe in the book is one for goat. My father had acquired a goat (and soon, two kids). Here’s the barbecue sauce recipe:

3 pt. vinegar              1 pt. catsup

¼ lb. butter                1 T. salt

1 T. red pepper            1 T. sugar

1 T. black pepper

It looks good.  I would add more pepper — red and black.

At the time, my parents and my older brother, Jim, were living in what has been described as a converted chicken coop out in the country outside Chapel Hill (where there was a severe housing shortage). This was while my father was finishing his undergraduate and graduate work at UNC on the GI Bill (for his WWII service in the Marine Corps).  The chickens lived outside.  My mother (Dear) insists that they had half of an actual house, but I am as skeptical as one can (or should) be of one’s mother.  By the time I was born, they had moved up to an apartment in what I recall as a converted barracks in Victory Village in Chapel Hill.  They later moved to Glen Lennox, a development of brick apartments that are still there.

Give the recipe a try.


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4 thoughts on “Recipe Time: Brunswick Stew

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