Brunswick stew is an amalgamation of vegetables, meat, and other stuff. And it shall eventually be the subject of this post.
This past weekend, as part of our 27th anniversary celebration, my husband and I ventured westward out toward the Blue Ridges. On Saturday we visited Staunton, Virginia (looks like “Stawn-ton” but pronounced “Stan-ton” by the natives), home of Mary Baldwin College, the Woodrow Wilson birthplace and library, and Blackfriar’s Shakespeare Theater. We did not encounter Brunswick stew there.
The concoction was featured on Sunday, when we attended the 2017 Apprenticeship Showcase of the Virginia Folklife Program. As per usual, one of the finalists of the annual Brunswick stew championship of Virginia, the Proclamation Stew Crew from, of course, Brunswick County, were there stirring their gigantic pot and offering generous helpings for $1.00 a bowl. Who could resist?
This reminded me not only of the time the crew came to the 2007 Smithsonian Folklife Festival to slave over their hot cauldron for hours, but also a recent and not nearly as satisfying encounter with a so-called Brunswick Stew at a barbecue concession in the Charlotte, NC airport. It was pretty terrible, consisting I think of all leftover bits of barbecue meat and veg from the sides that did not sell the day before all mashed together.
Which brings me to the final version of “Brunswick Stew” that I once inadvertently concocted during my Camp Randolph cooking days (see earlier post, Lake Effects, Part Three). The former cook of Camp Randolph apparently used to cook up a full turkey dinner every Sunday (in the middle of the summer!) for the residents. I compromised at a roast of some sort every Sunday, with turkey being featured every other week. Still, turkey leftovers were rampant and had to be addressed.
One Friday, I took bits of turkey and mixed them up with the leftover stuffing, some vegetables, and gravy and served it as a sort of, well, stew. “Marvy Brunswick stew!” declared one of the residents, and I had no idea what he was talking about.
Till years later, when I discovered the authentic Virginia version. Because, though Georgians also claim the stew was first created there, in my opinion the Virginia version reigns supreme.