If you had asked me 10 years ago when I was 20, where I thought I'd be living once I graduated from college, I probably would have told you Chicago or Indianapolis or some other big city in the Midwest. I would have never thought that I'd be living in the South. It's crazy where life takes you. Anyways, Atlanta is officially home for me now and I don't plan on moving anywhere else anytime soon.
Living in the South for 3+ years has definitely rubbed off on me. I have yet to speak with a drawl, but I have developed a taste for Southern comfort foods. Some of my favorite Southern delicacies include Fried Green Tomatoes, Pimento Cheese, Grits (mixed with lots of cheese & butter), Banana Pudding, Squash Casserole, and Mac N' Cheese (which is actually considered a vegetable in some restaurants).
You also can't live in the South without having a whole bunch of BBQ restaurants nearby. I had BBQ growing up in the Midwest, but nothing like the stuff you find down South. I've even ventured out to a few BBQ competitions such as the Big Pig Jig and Memphis in May. Needless to say, I'm a BBQ lover. Out of the numerous BBQ joints I've eaten at in Metro Atlanta, Williamson Bros BBQ
and Swallow at the Hollow
have to be my 2 favorite BBQ joints. One side dish you'll find at a lot of BBQ places is Brunswick Stew and it varies widely from restaurant to restaurant. Sometimes it's filled with veggies and big chunks of BBQ. Or sometimes it's finely shredded BBQ in a tomato broth. I think the stew is a way for restaurants to use up leftover BBQ and veggies. Anytime I venture out to a new BBQ joint, I always have to try their Brunswick Stew.
After trying many different versions of Brunswick Stew, I decided to try it making it myself. I've made a few batches over the past year or so, but I think I've finally come up with a decent blend of veggies and spices. But much like when I make chili, it comes out different each time, for better or for worse. Anyways, here's my take on Brunswick Stew. I do cheat a bit and get pulled pork from a local BBQ restaurant. But I've seen versions with just shredded chicken or beef (or if you really want to be adventurous use venison, squirrel, rabbit, as that's supposedly what Brunswick Stew was traditionally made with). This recipe would also be super easy to modify too, depending on your veggie preferences. I could see okra, lima beans, carrots, and other veggies added to the mix.
1 - large Vidalia Onion, diced
2 - Poblano Peppers, diced
1 pound Red Potatoes, cut into bite size pieces
1 small package Frozen Corn
1.5 pounds smoked Pulled Pork
1 - 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes
1 - small jar Roasted Red Peppers, diced
1 - 14.5 oz. can Diced Tomatoes
2 - Garlic cloves, finely minced
48 oz. Chicken Broth
2 - Bay Leaves
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Your Favorite BBQ Sauce, to taste
1. Saute the Onion, Green Peppers, and Garlic in a little bit of Olive Oil in your stew pot on Medium Heat, until the onions start to become slightly caramelized.
2. Add the Chicken Broth, Crushed Tomatoes, Diced Tomatoes (plus juice), Pulled Pork, Bay Leaves, Frozen Corn, Roasted Red Peppers, and Red Potatoes to the stew pot. Stir to combine.
3. Add BBQ Sauce, Black Pepper, and Salt to taste.
4. Allow the stew to cook on low heat, covered, for at least 1 - 2 hours or until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the stew from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
5. Remove the Bay Leaves.
6. Serve with a slice of Cornbread.
As for the Cornbread, I followed this Skillet Cornbread
recipe. This was actually the first time I used my cast iron skillet for baking. It allowed for the edges of the cornbread to come out nice and crunchy, while leaving the inside moist and chewy. Normally, I prefer my cornbread a bit on the sweeter side. This version was a bit salty and savory, due to the bacon fat called for in the recipe. But it paired perfectly with the Brunswick Stew. Bacon fat is cooking gold. Seriously. Save that shit.