Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Daring Cooks' April Challenge - Brunswick Stew


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.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I love, love, love stew. I love making it, letting the scents waft along and fill the apartment. I love nurturing it in the pot for hours, before letting it nurture me at the dinner table.


Spring appeared to get off to an early start this year in Montreal, with a couple of summery warm days. However, we’ve had our share of chilly days as well this past month, which meant that this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge, Brunswick stew, was still perfectly in season. Spring is the time where white meat stews take the stage away from beef stews, as far as I’m concerned!

Brunswick stew originates from Virginia (and not, as I initially presumed, from New Brunswick). Like most stews, it appears to be subjected to endless variations. Therefore, I didn’t feel the least bit guilty about substituting pork for rabbit (a change which our hostess, Wolf, fully endorsed). I’m clearly not a vegetarian, but having had a pet rabbit for 9 years has left me completely incapable of cooking with this particular meat.

We were given two recipes for this challenge: one fast, one slow. Ever the slow-food lover, I took the long road, and simmered my pork (I used baby back ribs) and chicken pieces for two hours, until the meat was falling from the bone. I stopped short of making stock from scratch, because, well, I did have other things to do.


One thing I did like about the Brunswick stew is that it is chock-full of vegetables: butterbeans, corn, onions, carrot, celery, potatoes, tomatoes… Just what a stew should be: both filling and healthy. I also like the inclusion of lemon juice and vinegar, which lent a sour taste that I rarely find in stews.

This stew is best served with bread. I decided to make my own, and baked a big loaf of Marcy Goldman's whole wheat Greek bread. I wish I could have gotten it to be crustier, but the thick, heavy crumb was perfect to go with the creamy stew.

The only thing I would change would be to add some herbs: I felt there was some depth of flavour that was lacking from this dish. A simple sprinkling of flat leaf parsley would do wonders. It’s hard for me to guess whether tarragon’s unique liquorice-aniseed flavour would work with this or not… it might, but it might also be disastrous. Fortunately, since I made the full recipe for 12 people (what’s the point of having a giant Dutch oven if you’re not going to use it to capacity?), we’ll have plenty to chances to test things out with the frozen leftovers.


So, thank you Wolf, for adding another stew to my roster! Be sure to check out the original recipe here at the Daring Kitchen, and look over the blogroll while you’re at it!

16 comments:

  1. the stew and the bread look amazing. great work on this months challenge.

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  2. Waw!! The bread & your stew are looking grand!! A top meal, Valérie!

    Many greets from sunny Brussels!

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  3. Yummy, your slow cooked (I'm a fan of slow cooking too) version looks so delicious!

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  4. I didnt use rabbit as well and it was still yummy, don't think i can ever cook with rabbit either :S Props for making your own greek bread, it looks perfect with a bowl of brusnwick stew!

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  5. your bread & stew look delicious! I agree, this stew was very warming on a chilly day!

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  6. Tarragon would be good, I added some to mine. LOL.

    I have a rabbit as well, Rue. Had 2 but Puck died last summer at the ripe old age of roughly 12 yrs.}:P

    Lovely finished stew and yummy looking bread!

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  7. Homemade bread makes all the difference. It looks delicious, but agree a few herbs in there would have helped.

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  8. I used pork, too, instead of rabbit. Your stew looks so delicious, and that bread looks so perfect. Great job on the challenge.

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  9. Gorgeous, I love the light colors in your stew, and that bread looks awesome! I bet pork would be fantastic in this stew, and still keep a southern spirit. Great job!

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  10. Glad you loved it! This was my first month in Daring Cooks, but I just couldn't muster up any enthusiasm for a stew. I'm not a fan, and it just seemed so heavy. However, yours looks fresh and yummy! I agree that fresh herbs would have been a great addition--I love tarragon.

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  11. Valerie, you did a fantastic job with this challenge. Your photos are among the best I've seen. This is not an easy dish to capture well. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  12. Oh, Val..I knew there was no way my choco-bunny pal was putting rabbit in this stew lol regardless, not needed, especially when it turns out like yours did. It looks so perfectly chunky, bright and delicious!

    ALSO, Happy belated Blogiversary!! Those poached eggs over mushrooms looks amazing! What a great read too :)

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  13. I hope you won't hold it against me but my grandmother's fried rabbit allowed me to love the bunnies and ... still enjoy them for dinner. As a young child perhaps I was given her fried rabbit to eat and didn't know it was rabbit when we played with the bunnies. As much as I loved my mother's and grandmother's fried chicken (and I've never ever had better), grandmother's fried rabbit was still light years better. One of those things I dream about to this day.

    So tell me what foodie games do you play on the iPhone. With the solitare I play, I would for sure have to leave it plugged in for hours ;-) and my batter last hours, I just know it can't last 24 when you're on it as much as I am.

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  14. I am so glad to be back from holiday and get to enjoy your Brunswick Stew. Delicious and fits with the whole wheat Greek loaf.

    Sawadee from Bangkok,
    Kris

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  15. That just looks absolutely delicious Valerie and... I am sad to say I missed another Daring Cooks... What is with me these days?? This does look like a very good stew!

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  16. Valerie, I'm back again. I just wanted to thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate them. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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