Virginia's Brunswick Proclamation Stew 12.000

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

Smoke Signals Jan 8, 2014

The Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution in 2002 reaffirming the state as the birthplace and "capitol" of Brunswick stew and designating the fourth Wednesday in January as Brunswick Stew Day at the statehouse. The original recipe serves 600.

It's great to use fresh tomatoes and corn when they are in season. Some cooks dice the potatoes instead of cooking them whole and then mashing them. But the stew freezes better when the potatoes have been mashed.

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: 12 servings; 6 quarts

  • One 2 1/2-to-3-pound whole chicken
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 2 ribs celery
  • Water
  • 56 ounces diced, no-salt-added canned tomatoes plus their juices (see headnote)
  • 3 medium white potatoes, peeled (about 1 pound total)
  • 28 ounces canned butter beans, drained (baby lima beans; may substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 28 ounces canned whole-kernel corn, drained (may substitute 3 cups fresh or frozen)


Combine the chicken, onion and celery in a large stockpot. Cover with water (about 8 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat, using a spoon to skim off and discard any foam that forms on the surface. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low to maintain a low boil. Cook, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Discard the celery.

Transfer the whole chicken and the onion to a bowl to cool.

Use a slotted spoon to remove any bits of fat and/or skin from the broth. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the whole, peeled potatoes. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender; transfer them to a bowl and coarsely mash them. Return them to the pot.

Coarsely chop the onion and return it to the pot along with the butter beans and sugar. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper, stirring to incorporate. Cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The stew should be thick.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones. Coarsely chop the meat; the yield is 2 to 2 1/2 cups.

Uncover the pot; stir in the corn and the cooled, chopped chicken. Cook, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, so those ingredients are heated through.

Serve hot.

Rate it

Recipe Source

Adapted from a recipe provided by the Brunswick County/Lake Gaston Tourism Association Inc.

Tested by Jim Shahin.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at