Rabbit-Free Brunswick Stew
Wrong Stew-ie, but I love that little, animated guy. What other evil baby’s cheeks could you pinch while he devises a plan for a trebuchet that launches machetes directly at Lois?
This brings us to this month’s Daring Cooks challenge..the ‘STEW’ in the STEWIE, Brunswick stew! I love stew; all kinds of stew, all kinds of meats in stews, but not wabbit (yes, I meant to type ‘wabbit’). The thing is, Brunswick stew is sometimes known for being bunnylicious. Granted, there are all kinds of meats you can use in this stew, from chicken to pork to turkey, some with bunny, some without, but in my stew, no bunny, thank you. Never tried rabbit, do not want to try rabbit, and will never ever try rabbit.*
Maybe it’s the fluffiness or quivering nose, or maybe it’s the fact that I used to have guinea pigs (not in the same family, but sort of similar, right?) guinea pigs that had cute, little fluff ball babies. I don’t know the reason for sure, but they’re so soft and poofy that I don’t see them as something that needs to be basted with my gastric juices or something that will make me burp. They’re adorable pets to me, not food.
I know, my ‘chef meter’ just bottomed out.
The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
Brunswick stew is a super thick stew with a colorful, sometimes debated, history, loaded with meat(s), rich stock, veggies and I suppose whatever suits your taste in terms of spices, heat, and a little something acidic to cut the richness. According to definition, this stew is supposed to be thick enough that ‘the paddle stands up in the middle’. This stew is also categorized as sometimes using beef. In other words, it really seems to stress bunny, pork, and/or chicken, and even squirrel in some parts.
Well, since my squirrel slingshot is broken**, I decided to go with the least authentic or expected Brunswick stew meat, the one with the label of sometimes prefacing it; the low meat on the Brunswick totem pole; Beef. However, not just any cut of beef; short ribs, a marbled cut on the bone that morphs into amazing bites of succulent and tender heaven when slowly braised.
I started by cutting the meat from the bone into bite sized chunks, then using the short rib bones, first roasted then cracked, along with all the veggie scraps, to make a beautiful, rich, 4-hour long simmered beef bone stock. I omitted the beans and celery from the recipe, instead adding parsnips, cremini mushrooms, and some fresh herbs like thyme and sage. I also used cut up grape tomatoes in lieu of the larger whole tomatoes (less liquid = an overly chunky stewie) and kept some of the corn on the cob, sliced into disks. The latter was mostly for presentation because, well, unless you eat cob (or like to crack your teeth or break your jaw), it’s pretty impossible to stick a fork in it, and the small round makes for difficult cob cleaning nibbles. It is possible, albeit awkward!
I found these cheesy 70’s looking things in a box in my parent’s attic. Probably not the best or prettiest choice to photograph and serve this stew in. A What was I thinking? MOMENT.
The final touch to the stew was homemade BBQ sauce. No idea why, but I just felt it needed a little BBQ sauce stirred in. The stew turned out absolutely delicious, the short rib meat melt-in-your-mouth tender, the vegetables sweet and succulent, and yes, a paddle, well, a fork, stood up in the middle of it. Was my take on Brunswick stew really Brunswick stew? Would I be turned away from Brunswick stew competitions if I tried to enter? Would mountain folk throw rabbit feet at me? Probably. Regardless, I will be making this again, tonight in fact, due to several requests for more.
Don’t forget to check out other Daring Cooks Brunswick or ‘not so Brunswick’ stews by clicking on the links to their blogs at the Daring Cooks Blogroll. For the recipes for Brunswick Stew, click HERE.
* Yes, I think cows, pigs and chickens are cute too, but I don’t often see them bouncing through my yard or hanging out in pet shops. In fact, whenever I encounter and pet cows, pigs or chickens, I can’t eat them until the memory subsides, which sometimes lasts months!
** Just a joke, I do not own a squirrel slingshot, nor do I kill or eat squirrel. There’s always that one person who might take me seriously.