The origins of the popular southern dish, Brunswick Stew, is often debated. “One version of Brunswick Stew traces its origins to Brunswick County, Virginia. Tradition has it that the dish was created in 1828 by an African-American chef, ‘Uncle’ Jimmy Matthews. While serving as camp cook during a hunting expedition, Matthews shot squirrels combined them with onions, dry bread and other ingredients, and made dinner.”
First catch your chickens, clean and cut them.
And in an iron pot you put them.
And water nearly to the top
And in it salt and pepper drop;
Boil slowly. Your tomatoes peel;
Put in a shin or so of veal;
And for the flavor bear in mind,
A chunk of middling with the rind.
Next some onions you throw in,
the young and tender skin,
And butter beans do not forget;
And what is more important yet;
The corn, but do not be too fast,
For you must cut and add it last;
For better than the flour you’ll find it’ll do
To give some thickness to the stew.
Some lemon peel cut very thin
May then be added and stirred in,
And ere it’s taken from the fire
Give it a dash of Worcestershire,
And soon you will hear its praises ring,
This is a dish fit for a king.
–Virginia Woodroof, 1930
This recipe was supplied by Ann Chandonnet, author of The Pioneer Village Cookbook, which can be found here! Don’t like to cook? Attend Richmond’s Brunswick Stew Festival next year! More information can be found on our food heritage events page.