Classic Southern Brunswick stew is a meaty, bbq-y blend of meats, veggies and spices. The traditional recipe simmered all day and used everything from pork and beef to rabbit and squirrel. My chicken Brunswick stew is much less intimidating. This savory, sweet and spicy melange is loaded with shredded cooked chicken breasts, potatoes, corn and lima beans and it’s ready to eat in about an hour.
Brunswick stew – A food fight
As a food blogger of nearly 8 years, I’ve learned that food and recipes can be very territorial. It happens when someone “not from around here” recreates someone else’s regional “signature dish”.
I dared to make a cheesesteak sandwich — and am still getting hate mail from Philadelphians.
It also happens when two (or more) people/restaurants or entire geographies claim ownership rights to a recipe or dish.
The famous French Dip sandwich comes to mind… Did it originate at Phillipe’s or Cole’s?
Likewise, the origins of classic Southern Brunswick stew is claimed by both Georgia and Virginia (with a nod to North Carolina as they actually have more restaurants that serve this hearty potage than the other two).
The back story of Southern Brunswick Stew
According to this 1993 New York Times article, both Brunswick, Georgia and Brunswick, Virginia have laid claim to the famous dish.
Virginia showing documented proof of a cook making this stew for a hunting camp party (from county records dating back to 1828) and Georgia claiming dominion because they hold the “original” iron pot (from a former slave ship) that the ‘first batch’ of Brunswick stew was made in.
But that’s not the only controversy in this culinary drama. There’s also a general disagreement about the recipe itself…
What makes a Brunswick stew?
- What type(s) of meat that should be used? It varies by state and region, but recipes include everything from chicken, pork and beef, to squirrel and other freshly kilt’ varmints and critters.
- In Georgia it’s spicy and always includes peas. Virginia’s version lacks spice (and peas).
- There’s rancor about the thickness or brothiness of the stock. (Should it eat like a brothy soup or stick to your ribs stew?) Georgia likes it thin, while Virginians want it thick.
- Is it a side dish or a main course? Georgians eat it like a side dish, while it’s the main course in Virginia and North Carolina.
- There’s even bickering about the proper accompaniments to go with a bowl of Brunswick stew. Plain white bread, corn bread, potato salad or grilled potatoes.
This is just some of the debate that surrounds this dish. To avoid being part of the melee, I’d like to state emphatically that I’m not choosing sides.
Additionally, I’m not claiming that this Chicken Brunswick stew is an authentic Virginia or Georgia version of a Brunswick stew recipe.
In fact, this ISN’T a true representation of either regions recipe, but more of an amalgam of both. Consider this a neutral “Switzerland” version.
“You guys argue about it, I’m going eat.”
Now that you’ve been briefed, let’s get to the recipe.
Chicken Brunswick stew ingredients:
- Kosher Salt
- Olive Oil
- Cayenne Pepper
- Cider Vinegar
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Yukon Gold Potatoes
- Frozen Lima Beans
- Frozen Corn
I recommend my All Purpose Instant Pot Pulled Chicken for this stew, however, you can also use baked chicken breasts or pulled meat from a rotisserie bird.
You can use your favorite store-bought variety BBQ sauce (try Stubb’s) or try my sweet and spicy Jim Beam BBQ Sauce, which is excellent here.
Despite its hefty ingredient list, this simple Brunswick stew recipe comes together in about an hour.
How to make chicken Brunswick stew
- Sweat the carrots, onion and celery, then add the garlic.
- Add the chicken, tomatoes, broth, BBQ sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and molasses and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Stir in the diced potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the frozen corn and lima beans and simmer for 10 minutes.
That’s it. One pot. Ready in under an hour — and most of the prep is done is 20 minutes. Oh sure, you can give it a stir every once in a while as you sip your glass of wine, but beyond that, it’s a pretty stress-free dinner.
If you’re a fan of one pot meals, chicken Brunswick stew should be in your regular weeknight rotation. It’s hearty, rich and satisfying. Even picky eaters love this one.
So break out your dutch oven and dump all of the ingredients into the pot! Dinner will be ready before you know it.
Use a heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, and slowly warm it over medium heat. This is a thick stew and tends to get thicker as it sits. Therefore, you may need to add a little bit more chicken broth to the stew as you reheat it. I recommend adding 1/3 to 1/2 cup of low sodium stock and mixing well.
Yes. You can make it up to several days in advance. Bonus: it’ll give the flavors an opportunity to marry even more.
Absolutely. Package leftovers in a freezer-safe container and it will keep for up to 3 months. Defrost before reheating.
Why you’ll love chicken Brunswick stew:
- It uses pantry staples and everyday ingredients.
- Frozen lima beans and corn work great in this recipe.
- You don’t have to peel the potatoes.
- It’s thick, rich and barbecue-y.
- It’s an easy one-pot meal.
- It doesn’t have to cook all day.
- This is pretty much a dump and go meal. Especially if you’ve got pulled chicken and BBQ sauce at the ready.
- You can make it as spicy or tame as you like, according to your diners’ tastes.
- It makes a big pot of stew to feed a crowd or have leftovers another night.
What to serve with chicken Brunswick stew:
- Hatch Chile Skillet Cornbread
- Black Pepper Buttermilk Biscuits
- Cheddar Chive Popovers
- 3 Ingredient Drop Biscuits
More easy one pot dinners you might like:
- Mussels and Sausage with Wine and Garlic
- Irish Stout Braised Chicken Thighs
- Sausage Sauerkraut Skillet Dinner
- Instant Pot BBQ Pulled Pork Tenderloin
Chicken Brunswick Stew
- Large Heavy Bottomed Pot or Dutch Oven
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups Shredded Cooked Chicken
- 15 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 1/2 cups Jim Beam BBQ Sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 2 large Yukon Gold potatoes diced into 1/2" cubes
- 1 cup frozen lima beans
- 2 cups frozen corn
- hot sauce optional
- chopped parsley or chives optional
- shredded cheddar cheese optional
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add the carrots, onions and celery and sprinkle with kosher salt. Sweat the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until they start to soften and the onions and celery begin to look slightly translucent.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for one minute.
- Add the cooked shredded chicken, canned tomatoes, BBQ Sauce, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce and molasses. Stir to combine and turn the heat up to high. When the mixture starts to boil, cover with the lid, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the diced potatoes and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the lima beans and corn and simmer for 10 more minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.
- Serve with hot sauce on the side and sprinkle each bowl with parsley, chives or cheddar cheese as desired.