Category Archives: soups, grits, and stews

Stovetop Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew 1When Caroline & I were divvying up the recipes for the cookbook, I was both elated and terrified to find Brunswick Stew end up in my pile. As you may know if you’ve been following this blog for a while, my family takes Brunswick Stew very seriously. It takes days to make it in the backyard in my great grandmother’s cauldron. We don’t mess around. So the idea of developing a stovetop version of this recipe that did justice to the stew my family cherishes? Terrifying.

I ended up creating what I think is a masterpiece. Started in separate pots the chicken and the pork cook to perfection and then are combined, along with all their juices, to create a stew that tastes like it took way longer than 8 hours. Which, you’ll remember, is a fraction of the time I think Brunswick Stew should take to cook. Unfortunately DK didn’t think that the average home cook was really going to spend 8 hours cooking a stew in multiple different vessels so they sent me back to a drawing board. I have a suspicion, however, that at least a handful of you ARE just the kind of home cooks who have been looking for something that tastes authentic but isn’t quite as involved– something that you’re happy to let simmer on your stove one chilly Sunday. Something that will feed your family all winter because this stew freezes like a dream. I know you’re out there, and this recipe is for you.

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Stovetop Brunswick Stew (the 8 Hour Version)

1 medium chicken, bones in

1 tbsp olive oil or butter

1.6lb  pork loin end, bone in

2 x 28oz cans diced tomatoes, in liquid

2 x 425g cans lima beans, in liquid

2 x 425g cans corn, in liquid

1  medium white or yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 dozen fingerling or creamer potatoes, quartered or roughly chopped

3 celery stalks, sliced with tender greens

3 tbsp Worcestershiree sauce

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp red pepper flakes

Place chicken in a Dutch oven or slow cooker, cover with water, and season with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp red pepper flakes. Cook on 250/120C for 4 hours or until meat falls off the bone easily. As the chicken cooks brown pork in large soup pan. Brown 30-45 seconds on each side and set aside.

Keeping the pot over medium heat add garlic, onion, and celery. Saute until onions are tender.  Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, and potatoes. Add 4 cups of water.

Return pork to pot and reduce heat to simmer. Stir in Worchestershire sauce, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked.

Pull the chicken meat off of the bone and add it to the soup pot, along with the chicken’s cooking liquid. Stir well, breaking the pork apart with your spoon until it is shredded, and return to simmer.Simmer an additional 2-4 hours, stirring occasionally. Season to taste and serve hot.

 

Blackbean & Butternut Squash Soup

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After letting the bone broth simmer on my stove for 24 hours, I was desperate for a bowl of soup. I love the way that a rich simmering soup started with bacon and butter brings the house to life, and how a soup full of layers of complex flavors can turn a cold, drab, rainy day into something special. Add in some crusty bread and a bottle of wine and you’ll have the perfect fall evening.

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My first soup of the year is always this one. A hearty soup that begins with bacon and includes enough garlic to ward off the worst of colds, healing bone broth, and my seasonal favorite butternut squash, this soup belongs in a world with red leaves and knee boots and cardamom spiced everything.
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Black Bean & Butternut Squash Soup

1 lb dried black beans
1 lb thick cut bacon
1/2 stick salted butter
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
6 cups bone broth
2 cups diced tomatoes
2 cups fresh cubed butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup fresh kale
1 tsp paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Soak beans overnight in a bowl, covered with a towel.

In a soup pot cook half of the bacon, diced. Add in minced garlic, chopped onion, and butter. Drain and rinse beans, and add to pot, along with bone broth and seasoning. Simmer 1 hour or until beans have softened. Add in tomatoes and kale. Simmer an additional hour, tasting frequently and adding salt as needed.

Heat oven to 425. Toss squash in oil and salt and roast for 20-25 minutes. As the squash is roasting, cook remaining bacon. Stir most of the squash into the soup, reserving some for garnish. Stir in apple cider vinegar.

Serve soup hot topped with squash and crispy bacon.

Bone Broth

bone broth 1After the round of sickness that swept through school and a few long days traveling by air and automobile, I came down with the inevitable cold. This time of year is hard on the body, and I often struggle with doing my best to take time for myself while all the world around me seems to be going mad. It’s easy to check out, order Indian food, and pledge to cook another day. In all honesty, we’ve been doing a lot more of that than I’d like to admit the past few months. But when a that first chill in the air (and fogginess in the chest) hits, my reset button switches. I pull myself up out of the muck of late summer and get back in the kitchen. An act that, inevitably, feeds much more than the body.

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The first thing on the menu this week was a generous batch of bone broth. Bone broth, like chicken stock, is a simple combination of vegetables, water, and beef bones, simmered for an extended period of time. This batch had beef bones (labeled “soup bones” in the butcher’s freezer department of the market), oxtail, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and carrots. The bones were roasted, the vegetables were chopped, water was added, and the broth simmered for over 24 hours.

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For the past few months I’ve been lamenting the end of summer, complaining to anyone who would listen that I wasn’t ready for the seasons to change. And I wasn’t. This summer was amazing- full of adventure, excitement, and opportunity. I loved every second of it and I was not willing to let go of long afternoons at the beach or boat rides or saying yes to everything because who cares, it’s summer! Finally, however, this week, I was ready. I got home from another big trip with a cold and a messy house and I just knew it was time. It was time to settle back in for fall. Time for long evenings on the couch with a book and a cup of tea, for pots of soup simmering for hours on end, time for roasts and root vegetables. And when I get sick of all that, it will be time to dream of watermelon again.

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Bone Broth

4-6 pounds beef bones & oxtail

4-6 pounds root vegetables- potatoes, carrots, onions, etc

1 head garlic (leave cloves whole)

1/2 stick butter

Salt

In a 425F oven, roast bones for 30 minutes.

Melt butter in a large soup pot. Add bones to the pot, along with onion, garlic, and remaining root vegetables. Fill pot with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Stir well and reduce broth to a simmer. Simmer with the lid on but slightly cracked, for 12-24 hours. Strain and freeze the broth.