Tomato-based and usually containing various vegetables and meats, Brunswick Stew is said to have originated in either Brunswick, Georgia, or Brunswick County, Virginia. A plaque on an old iron pot in the town of Brunswick states that the first stew was made in it on July 2, 1898, on nearby St. Simons Island. But in Virginia, the story goes that a state legislator’s cook created a special squirrel stew for a hunting expedition.
This Saturday, Georgia’s second-largest coastal city honors its claim at the 13th annual Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbilee. Held at Mary Ross Waterfront Park, cooking teams from all over compete for the best version of the stew. Contest rules call for participants to be “of good cheer and demeanor” and say “no spiking an opponent’s stew with anything.” The judged part of the competition is a blind taste test, and participants are required to make at least 10 gallons of stew. There’s also a People’s Choice competition, and tasting tickets are $6 in advance and $9 the day of.
So, if you’re in the Golden Isles this weekend, don’t miss this opportunity to taste the best of the best of what is truly a regional dish. Events kick off at 8:30 a.m. The recipe below comes from Stewmaster Griffin Bufkin of Southern Soul Barbeque on St.Simons Island, which serves the stew on their menu.
1/2 pound salted butter
3 cups (2 large) finely diced sweet onions
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup vinegar barbecue sauce (Southern Soul Barbeque’s Red Wine Swine is recommended)
1/2 cup brown sweet barbecue sauce (Southern Soul Barbeque’s Sweet Georgia Soul is recommended)
1 pound smoked pulled pork
1/2 pound smoked pulled chicken
1/2 pound smoked pulled turkey
1 pound smoked chopped beef brisket
1 (number 10) can crushed tomatoes
1 quart fresh or frozen yellow corn kernels
1 quart fresh or frozen baby lima beans
1 quart or more quality chicken stock
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onions and the garlic, and saute until the onions are translucent, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of vinegar sauce and 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Stir in the pulled pork, chicken, turkey and brisket. Add the crushed tomatoes and all of the vegetables. Stir in the chicken stock and let simmer for a couple hours over medium heat. Transfer the stew to a serving bowl and serve with warm buttermilk cornbread.