Don’t Mess with the Brunswick Stew!

Are you a fan of Brunswick Stew? I’ve been eating Brunswick Stew since I was a small child. The first Brunswick Stew I ate was at Robinson Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

A few years later, the Men of the Church at Rocky River Presbyterian in Concord, North Carolina started making Brunswick Stew for our congregation every October. In the beginning, we’d say, “It’s good, but not as good as Robinson’s.” Gradually, the recipe or technique of stirring it for hours in a cast iron pot over an open fire improved and we started saying, “This is as good as Robinson’s.”

Times have changed since I was a child. A year or two ago, barbecue was added for those who don’t like Brunswick Stew. Desserts are included now. Everything is free, unless you want to purchase additional stew or barbecue to take home.

Rocky River Presbyterian Church
Rocky River Presbyterian Church, 7940 Rocky River Road, Concord, NC 28025

Saturday was the annual Brunswick Stew at Rocky River Presbyterian. It used to just be something the Men of the Church did for the congregation.  The event has evolved into a fall festival for the community with games and other activities for the children. I assisted my sister in giving tours of our 157-year-old sanctuary.

Attendance was great this year (estimated at 300-400) and the weather was beautiful. After the rain and wind on Thursday from the remains of Hurricane Michael, everyone enjoyed a chance to get outside and do something besides pick up limbs. There were children and families all over the church grove playing games and painting pumpkins.

The stew this year was perhaps the best it’s ever been. Sometimes I think someone thinks black pepper has not been added to the pot, so that someone adds black pepper. Once it’s been added twice, it’s too much for my taste. One year it tasted like someone had veered off the recipe and sneaked some cumin in the pot. That was worse than the time there was too much pepper. This year it was delicious! This year it was perfect!

Don’t mess with the Brunswick Stew, guys! Don’t mess with the Brunswick Stew!

I wanted to include the recipe for Rocky River Presbyterian Brunswick Stew, but it got skewed no matter what I did. Suffice it to say it contains beef, chicken, chicken broth, corn, lima beans, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

If you’d like to have the exact recipe, leave a comment below and I’ll gladly give you the details. The stew freezes well.

The Men of the Church hold the secret to the method of cooking the stew. It is cooked in a cast iron stew pot over a fire in the parking lot behind the fellowship hall.

Since my last blog post

I’ve worked a little on genealogy. Finding that the original handwritten deeds for the land one of my ancestors purchased in the 1760s have been digitized was a wonderful find because the originals had faded to the point that they couldn’t be read at all. It is amazing how technology makes history come alive.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book or two to read. I’m still reading My Dear Hamilton:  A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. (Give me a break. It’s 642 pages!)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog. I appreciate it! I welcome your comments.

Let’s continue the conversation. Does Brunswick Stew sound like something you would eat? Have you eaten it? Does the community or culture you were raised in or have lived in have a dish similar to the one I’ve described?

Janet

21 thoughts on “Don’t Mess with the Brunswick Stew!

  1. That’s great, Michael! You might want to trim this down to a more manageable amount, but here’s the recipe for Rocky River Presbyterian Church Brunswick Stew: 30 pounds beef, cooked and chopped; 16 hens, cooked, deboned, and chopped; broth from the chickens; 4 gallons or corn; 4 gallons of lima beans; 6-8 gallons of tomatoes; 2 pounds of butter; salt and pepper to your own judgment. My estimate is that this feeds 100 people, but many of them take a second helping. It is cooked in a cast iron pot over an open fire for about 12 hours. It freezes well. Good luck! I hope you like it as much as I do.

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  2. I’m thrilled that it sounds good to you! As I replied to Michael, you might want to trim this down to a more manageable amount, but here’s the recipe for Rocky River Presbyterian Church Brunswick Stew: 30 pounds beef, cooked and chopped; 16 hens, cooked, deboned, and chopped; broth from the chickens; 4 gallons or corn; 4 gallons of lima beans; 6-8 gallons of tomatoes; 2 pounds of butter; salt and pepper to your own judgment. My estimate is that this feeds 100 people, but many of them take a second helping. It is cooked in a cast iron pot over an open fire for about 12 hours. It freezes well. Good luck! I hope y’all like it as much as I do.

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  3. Brunswick Stew sounds great to me. I love long books–if they’re good–and often wish that good books I’m reading would go on forever, and, related, I wish that writers I love, like Hemingway, and Conrad, had been much more prolific. But there are two kinds of writers, it seems. The one is prolific and good reading ,and the other writes few things and is meticulous with them–and they are perfect., If only the perfectionists were also prolific. Best wishes, Janet, your friend David.

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  4. I have mixed feelings about long books. I have thoroughly enjoyed My Dear Hamilton this month, but I’m ready to finish it later today and move on to another book. It has gotten good reviews, but many people have commented that it was too long. Perhaps it should have been published as a book and a sequel. I had to laugh at the rest of your comment. It makes me wonder if I’ll fall into the second category — but simply because I waited so late in life to start trying to write a book. I laugh because I don’t aspire to write “the great American novel.” I’ll just be happy (I think!) if I finish writing it, get it published, and know that it has been enjoyed by the people who read it. Thanks, as always, for your comments.

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  5. Janet, I’m so happy you posted your church’s Brunswick stew recipe. I’m going to make it this week in a much smaller quantity. It seems like cold weather food. Temperatures have plummeted in my corner of Michigan. It’s time for those hearty, slow-cooking stews. Despite my southern roots and growing up on pretty tradtional southern food, I don’t recall eating Brunswick stew. My mom made a similar dish with beef, no chicken, and the addition of okra. It may have been influenced by traditional Brunswick stew. Her people had North Carolina roots. Thank you for this recipe. I’ve always loved trying foods from small communities. That tiny connection makes me feel like the world is a little smaller. I’ll let you know how my effort turns out.

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  6. Kit, I am thrilled that you’re going to try the Brunswick Stew recipe! Please do let me know how it turns out — and if you added spices or other ingredients you like. The stew your mother made sounds good. I like okra. I like it fried and I like it in vegetable soup. I’m excited that you want to try the Brunswick Stew. Temperatures are plummeting in NC as of tonight. It will be our first night below freezing here in the southern piedmont of the state with a prediction here in the mid-20s. Lows in the NC mountains of around 20 degrees. Quite a sudden drop! I guess it’s officially winter now. Thanks so much for your comments!

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