Ahhh, stew. It’s kind of a sign of Fall when you begin craving soups and stews. We even had a little brush of Fall the other week. Temps in the seventies for cripes sake! I am all for it. But it’s back in the nineties for highs now, and in a way, Brunswick stew is also good for Summer. Its still technically BBQ season, and this traditional stew is often a side dish but is plenty flavorful and hearty enough to make it on its own as a meal.
The key ingredient in our version is, of course, some BBQ pork, which my hubby loves to make on a regular basis. There’s always plenty of leftovers, and my MIL uses hers to make Brunswick stew, and now we do as well.
The recipe that I looked up for inspiration called for lima beans, but since those make me shudder, I substituted my current favorite, cannellini beans.
I think just about every homemade soup I make starts off with onions and garlic, and plenty of each.
This is a nice, colorful mixture. After the onions and garlic saute for a bit, you just dump in the rest of the ingredients. So easy. Bring it all up to a simmer and cook for about an hour till it reduces down and thickens a little.
The result is a wonderfully smokey, intensely flavored BBQ stew that is perfect for just about any season. We can grill and BBQ pretty much all year-round where we live so there’s always room for this one in our kitchen. If you can’t, hopefully you’ve got a favorite BBQ place nearby to pick up some pork on your way home. For other ideas see the Notes below.
Want to morph this side dish into a meal all its own? Serve it with a small salad and some good, crusty bread to dip in the stew. Mmm!
And this is my secret ingredient – fresh cilantro! I just happened to have some in the fridge the first time I made this. The stew was good, but it needed a little pop. I spotted the cilantro in the fridge, threw some in, and it’s been going in ever since. It adds a wonderful, super fresh flavor that I couldn’t live without in this now. It contrasts very well with the BBQ flavor.
Know what else this goes perfect with? Football night! Hubby is only too happy to settle down with this meal and a game.
Hope you like it!
adapted from Gourmet, January 2008
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 11 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 8
- 1 medium sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 can corn, drained
- 1 can white beans, rinsed (such as cannellini or Great Northern)
- 1 32-ounce can diced tomatoes w/basil, garlic and oregano (with juice)
- 2 – 3 cups low-sodium, MSG-free chicken stock (such as Swansons)
- 1 pound smoked cubed or shredded pork shoulder, fatty pieces thrown out (aka Boston butt)
- 1 12.5 ounce can shredded chicken breast (or 2-3 fresh-cooked chicken breasts)
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup favorite barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oil large Dutch oven or other such heavy-bottom pot.
Over medium-low heat, cook the onions till tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes, stirring often to keep garlic from burning.
Raise heat to medium-high. Add the bay leaves, corn, tomatoes and juice, beans, pork, chicken, and barbecue sauce and stir well to combine. Slowly add in the chicken stock till you have just enough to make a soupy consistency (we used about 2 1/2 cups, but you might need or want the whole 3 cups). Salt and pepper to taste.
Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium to medium-low, place cover slightly off the pot to allow steam to escape, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Stew should reduce by about a third and thicken slightly. In the last ten minutes of cook time, stir in the cilantro. Discard the bay leaves when done. Serve it up with a salad or some fresh, crusty bread or both. Enjoy!
Can’t find cannellini beans? Use Great Northern canned beans instead. They have the same texture, they’re just slightly bigger.
If you don’t like BBQ pork, or if you can’t get it when you want to make the stew, consider just substituting more chicken instead, or even barbecued chicken (I chose to use canned chicken for this because at it’s heart it’s meant to be a quick, easy meal that you can get on the table on a busy weeknight). You can also see if your butcher stocks country-style spare ribs, which are simply pork shoulder that has been cut into strips suitable for quicker grilling. Cook them in a pan with salt and pepper on the stove or on the grill, chop (discarding any bones) and add to the stew.
If you want your stew to be even a little more thickened, you can add in a can of creamed corn along with or instead of the regular corn. Just depends on how much corn you like.