Georgia Brunswick stew is so popular that in our coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia, the locals hold a Brunswick stew festival known as the Brunswick Rocking Stewbilee.
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At the festival, local businesses and non-profits compete in a friendly competition to find out who has the best Brunswick stew recipe. Most competitors also serve their favorite cornbread as the preferred side.
What is Georgia Brunswick stew?
It's a thick tomato-based stew that features smoked pork and chicken with corn and butter beans.
Each family and restaurant makes it a little bit different by adding their own unique twist. Some is sweeter, some is tangier, and some is spicier. You'll find our version is mild/medium spiciness, tangy, and full of meat and veggies.
What kind of meat do you use in a modern version?
The hardest thing to decide is what kind of meat you will use. You can choose to make your own pulled pork and pulled chicken, or purchase smoked pork and smoked chicken from a local BBQ place--it's up to you. If you're cooking your own meat, buy a Boston butt (pork shoulder) and a whole chicken.
Can you freeze this?
Yes, you most definitely can; in fact, Brunswick stew freezes really well! Just make sure to let it cool completely before freezing in airtight containers or zip-top freezer bags.
If you're in my area of coastal Georgia, you'll find that the locals eat it with fresh cornbread. Other Southern states are known to serve it with hush puppies, coleslaw, or pickles; the choice is yours. If you're really in a pinch, serve it with a thick slice of bread.
How to Make
First, gather the ingredients for the aromatics and the spices. Chop the onion and mince the garlic.
Next, gather the rest of the ingredients: chicken drippings and broth, plus the pulled meat and the veggies.
Chop up the fresh vine ripened tomatoes, and weigh the pulled chicken and pulled pork.
Heat up the oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the spices, liquid smoke, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the two kinds of BBQ sauce (one mustard style and the other a vinegar style).
Add the pulled chicken and the pulled pork.
Stir well to coat the meat. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the drippings from the roasted chicken. If you don't have any, use chicken broth or chicken stock.
Pour in the chicken stock.
Stir with a large wooden spoon before adding the canned and fresh tomatoes.
Finish by mixing in the yellow corn and butter beans. Cover and bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring every so often to prevent it from burning.
Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to medium low. Uncover the pot and let it simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring every 10 minutes.
Once it's done cooking, transfer most of the soup to a Dutch oven so it can fit in the fridge easier.
If you have never tried a hot bowl of Georgia-style Brunswick stew, I encourage you to make it soon. It's so good, you'll want seconds!
- Want it thicker? Cut back on the chicken stock or let it simmer with the lid off until the excess liquid has evaporated.
- Need it sweeter? Add a bit of sugar. If you accidentally added too much sugar, add some vinegar to correct it.
- Want other vegetables? Add sliced okra or diced potatoes.
- Need to lower the sodium? Use unsalted chicken broth and low sodium BBQ sauce.
- Need it spicier? Increase the Tabasco sauce to a tablespoon and add some crushed red pepper flakes.
- Modern meat choices? Use fresh or frozen pulled pork and chicken, or smoked pulled pork and chicken from a BBQ place.
- Traditional meat choices? Use squirrel, rabbit, possum, or hog head; just let the meat simmer longer.
- Need to freeze it? Put in an airtight container or zip top freezer bag for up to two months.
- Emeril Lagasse Dutch Oven: we have used and loved this heavy-bottomed pot for years.
- Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups: these handy measuring cups with pouring spouts are sturdy.
- Pyrex Glass Prep Bowls: prep ingredients ahead of time and store them in these pretty bowls.
Your family will love these other Southern recipes.
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Georgia Brunswick Stew
For the Aromatics
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups yellow onion, diced
- 4 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
For the Spices
For the Meat
For the Veggies
- 48 ounces canned crushed tomatoes, no salt added
- 4 cups vine ripe tomatoes, 6 medium
- 4 cups yellow corn kernels, fresh or frozen (optional)
- 4 cups baby butter beans, fresh or frozen
Preparing the Aromatics
- Chop the onions and mince the garlic.
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat until shimmering. Saute the onions for a few minutes until soft, stirring occasionally, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant, stirring constantly.
Seasoning the Brunswick Stew
- Lower the heat to medium-low and stir in the first 6 spices. Let cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly, then add the two BBQ sauces.
Adding in the Meat & Stock
- Add in all the meat, and stir well to coat the meat in the spices and BBQ sauce. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. This step makes the meat more flavorful.
- Pour in the chicken stock and drippings from the roasted chicken. (If you don't have any chicken drippings, just use additional chicken stock.)
Mixing in the Veggies
- While the meat is simmering, dice the fresh tomatoes.
- Increase the heat to medium high, then add the canned and fresh tomatoes, corn, and butter beans to the stew. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring every few minutes to prevent the bottom from burning. This should take about 15 minutes. Once it starts to boil, stir and lower the heat to medium-low, uncover, and simmer for at least an hour. I let mine simmer for 3 hours so the flavors could meld and the butter beans could soften.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Just note that this recipe is on the upper end of the mild range.
- Serve immediately with cornbread and sweet tea or let it cool and refrigerate.
- Have leftovers that need freezing? Allow it to cool then place in an airtight container or zip top freezer bag for up to two months.
This recipe was originally published on May 10, 2018.