Official Brunswick Stew 10.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Smoke Signals Jan 8, 2014

Official, as in inspired by the Brunswick Stewmaster's Association of Brunswick County, Va. We have cut the recipe in half and tweaked it just a bit, but it still makes a lot of stew. So Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin recommends doing what the Brunswickians do: Stash some in your freezer, portioned in freezer-safe zip-top bags, and give some to friends.

It's best to have the ingredients prepped before you start; hold the potatoes in cool water, if needed, to keep them from discoloring, then drain and dry before using. Fatback is available in most larger grocery stores (you might have to ask the folks in the white coats to bring it out), Asian markets and butcher shops.

It's preferable to use fresh corn and butter beans when they are in season.

Make Ahead: The stew can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 4 months.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 10 servings; 5 quarts

  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of most visible fat
  • 3 ounces fatback, cut into 4 long slabs (see headnote)
  • Water
  • 2 pounds white potatoes, peeled and cut into planks 3 inches long by 1 inch wide by 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 pounds yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 28 ounces canned, crushed, no-salt-added tomatoes plus their juices
  • 28 ounces canned butter beans (baby lima beans; may substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen), drained
  • 28 ounces canned white shoe peg corn, drained (may substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


Combine the chicken and fatback in a large stockpot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour; the chicken should begin to shred easily. Discard the fatback.

Stir in the potatoes, onions, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are quite soft.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices and the butter beans; once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, cook for 15 minutes, then stir in the corn and butter. Cook for about 1 hour, reducing the heat to medium-low if needed, so the stew becomes quite thick.

Serve hot, or portion into servings and cool completely before storing.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from the Brunswick Stewmaster's Association of Brunswick County, Va.

Tested by Jeff Donald and Jim Shahin.

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