Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brunswick Stew

Brunswick Stew

I still can't believe it. I *actually* went to the store and I bought a piece of warthog. Not many people will have the balls to pick up a packet of warthog meat, nevertheless actually buy the thing. I don't even have to mention the actual cooking and eating part do I?

As the cashier so eloquently put it (with slightly raised eyebrows I might add) "Is it for dog food?"
My answer? A slightly embarassed "No".

But why should I feel embarrassed? I should feel heroic for going where no (sensible) (wo)man has gone before! To infinity and beyond! Or something like that anyway... In all seriousness though I did have a little bit of "WhatTheHellAmIDoing" going on while heading home with my warthog tucked securely in a plastic shopping bag. The whole experience seemed a bit surreal and the smell of the raw warthog meat when I removed it from it's wrapping wasn't exactly enticing. It didn't smell bad, but it sure did smell.... odd. Wild is probably a better word. Which is to be expected. It is after all a wild animal.

I have a very vivid imagination and it didn't help that I was picturing a crazed warthog face the whole time while chopping the meat up. Thankfully the crazed warthog stayed locked in my mind though...

So you're probably dying to know: Why Warthog? Why it's for the Daring Cooks challenge of course! You didn't think I was crazy enough to attempt something like this of my own volition, did you?

The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.

Wolf gave us some history on Brunswick Stew:

"Brunswick Stew has a long, and oft debated history. Brunswick, Georgia claimed that the first Brunswick Stew was created there in 1898. There is, at the Golden Isles Welcome Center on Interstate 95, a bronzed stew pot with a plaque proclaiming this fact.

However, Brunswick, Virginia claims that the first Brunswick Stew was created there by a camp cook named Jimmy Matthews in 1828, for a hunting expedition led by Dr. Creed Haskings, a member of the Virginia State Legislature for a number of years.

Every year, there is an Annual Brunswick Stew Cookoff that pits ‘Stewmasters’ from both Virgina and Georgia against their counterparts, and takes place every October in Georgia. The Brunswick Stewmasters recipe says *exactly* what is used in competion stews, and states that 'Adding any additional ingredient(s) will disqualify the stew from being an original Brunswick Stew.'

However, most agree that, Brunswick stew is not done properly 'until the paddle stands up in the middle.'

Brunswick Stew

The stew was actually pretty easy to make. You know once I got rid of the crazed warthog image... It's a lengthy process sure, but involves very little legwork on the cook's part. You just brown all the meat, add the stock, potatoes and carrots, then cook for about an hour and a half. Then you add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another half an hour. Simple.

The end result? A flavourful hodgepodge of ingredients that will happily sate an empty belly. Even if mine wasn't thick enough to hold a paddle standing in the middle...

Brunswick Stew
Serves 6 - 8

The original recipe calls for rabbit, but I opted to add a little South African flavour instead. Warthog is very similar in taste and appearance to ostrich, though somewhat drier. I have no idea what part of the warthog I used, but it was a longish flat piece with no bones in, I suppose you could call it a fillet.You can substitute the warthog with any other venison (or use rabbit if you're able to find it where you live).

3 tbsp olive oil
50g bacon, roughly chopped
750g chicken pieces on the bone, skinned
350g warthog*, cut into chunks
1 tbsp salt
4 cups chicken stock 
4 potatoes, peeled & cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups whole corn kernels (drained if using canned)
2 cups butterbeans (drained if using canned)
2 tins whole tomatoes in puree, drained (reserve juice for another use)
tabasco sauce, to taste (optional)

1. Dry-fry bacon over high heat in a large enough saucepan to accomodate your stew. Remove when browned, and set aside.
2. Add half the olive oil to the saucepan and sear (brown) the chicken pieces on all sides, then remove and set aside with the bacon. Repeat the process with the warthog pieces. Carefully salt the seared meats.
3. By now you should have sticky brown bits in the bottom of your pan. Add the chicken stock, stirring to loosen up all the flavourpacked brown bits, then allow to reduce by at least half.
4. Return your meat to the pan, adding the rest of the stock, as well as the potatoes, carrots, onion, chilli flakes and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover with lid, allowing the stew to simmer for about an hour and a half. The chicken should be falling off the bone and the warthog and vegetables should be quite soft.
5. Using two forks, shred the chicken and warthog finely. I did this in the saucepan, but you might find it easier to remove the meat first. If you removed the meat, add it back to the pan.
6. Add the corn, butter beans and tomatoes to the stew, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and cover with a lid. Cook for another half an hour to forty-five minutes. Taste, adjusting seasoning if needed and optionally add tabasco sauce to your liking.

Serve as is or with rice or bread to mop up the juices.


Adele @ WillworkforBiltong on April 14, 2010 12:10 am said...

Well done Marisa! It looks fabulous. I really miss our lovely South African fare. Kangaroo is good, but you know, no warthog.

Joanne on April 14, 2010 5:35 am said...

You are one seriously courageous woman. I don't even know where I would begin to find warthog around here. Looks hearty and delicious!

Marisa on April 14, 2010 7:31 am said...

Thanks ladies! I had many moments of doubt, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do!

nina on April 14, 2010 9:04 am said...

Indeed, you have gone where this woman has never gone before, well done!!

Audax on April 14, 2010 10:21 am said...

Warthog well you win on that point well done. And your photography is superb good enough for a cook book. The pictures really set off the stew. Excellent effort on this challenge and thanks for the comments on the forums. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Marisa on April 14, 2010 11:00 am said...

Audax - *Blush* Thanks for the compliment! I actually had a really hard time photographing this stew - it's not very photogenic unfortunately.

Nina - The things I'll do in the name of science...

Wendy @ Mint Tea on April 14, 2010 12:38 pm said...

Well done!!! That looks wonderful! Warthog meat is wonderful to cook with, especially the fillet! Lovely photos! xxxx PS. A miracle, I can see blogspot blogs today!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is sooo creative and BRAVE to take warthog. I guess, that's even more unusual than the crocodile stew Audax made!

Jo on April 14, 2010 1:53 pm said...

Great job on your challenge and love your version of this. Love the photos as well, they are fab!

shelley c. on April 14, 2010 2:01 pm said...

Wow - you certainly took "Daring" to a whole new level with this challenge! Warthog - that is a new one for me! I am glad that it came out well and that you enjoyed the stew. Great job!

Wic on April 14, 2010 2:55 pm said...

amazing and daring work on this months challenge. love the presentation.

Anna on April 14, 2010 3:50 pm said...

Great presentation and nice looking stew!
Cheers :) Anula.

innBrooklyn on April 14, 2010 3:51 pm said...

You actually had me laughing out loud at the statement on the forum that warthog 'tasted quite similar to ostrich' - I had to come have a look. I'm a South African (though living in Brooklyn) and they've just started to sell ostrich at our local farmer's market. But I think I'm going to have a hard time finding warthog! well done!

Frances said...

Looks quite yummy despite the exotic your writing by the when are we coming to dinner?;)

FabFrugalFood on April 14, 2010 5:06 pm said...

Your stew looks fabulous! And I love your photography. Gorgeous.

Marisa on April 14, 2010 5:09 pm said...

Wendy - Thanks for the compliment, glad a glitch is working in your favour today!
Ap269 - I'll tell you, I felt crazy and not brave most of the way through it.
Jo - Thank you! It's always fun to put a twist on challenge recipe.
Shelley - Glad I lived up to the "Daring" name!
Wic & Anula - Thanks for the kind words, I actually fretted quite a bit about the presentation, so glad it came together in the end.
Inn Brooklyn - always great meeting another SA foodie! Hopping over to your blog right now.
Frances - Thanks! Keep your eyes on your inbox, wanting to do a themed evening sometime soon.

Denise on April 14, 2010 5:18 pm said...

Funny post; now I have an image of you discreetly carrying your package of warthog home! Beautiful presentation and photos!

Monkeyshines in the Kitchen on April 14, 2010 5:29 pm said...

Gorgeous stew! Warthog?! Who knew?! I love the concept of WhatTheHellHaveIDone and WhyDidIDoThisToMyself...

Marisa on April 14, 2010 5:41 pm said...

FabFrugalFood - Thank you so much! *bows graciously*

Denise - Discreetly indeed! It was a very surreal experience.

Monkeyshines - Yup, the warthog experience was definitely one of those WhatTheHellHaveIDone moments... Also immensely satisfying!

Anonymous said...

You must have felt a bit crazy walking out of there with warthog, I can just imagine it! But it looks great! and that's saying a lot since I'm not that adventurous:)

chef_d on April 14, 2010 8:56 pm said...

That's a very good looking stew! Warthog reminds me of Pumba in the Lion King. Great job!

Wolf on April 14, 2010 10:58 pm said...

Daring indeed! Lovely finished Stew as well! Well done! }:P

And I know what a warthog looks like, they do look rather insane. LOL

Unknown on April 15, 2010 12:45 am said...

Lovely photos! Your stew looks perfect!

Anonymous said...

It takes a great cook to see the flavor in something so ugly. This is the perfect recipe for such a game animal. Kudos for the wild hog.

Marisa on April 15, 2010 8:13 am said...

Chocswirl - yup, it felt weird! Thanks for the compliment too.

Chef D - Hahaha! Poor old Pumba. Lion King will never be the same again.

Wolf - Thanks. Very kind words coming from the mastermind behind this challenge.

Rochelle - Thank you!

Climbhighak - I agree with you, the warthog really shines in a stew type treatment like this.

soleil on April 15, 2010 11:52 am said...

Wow, I've never heard of warthog meat! Your pictures are lovely. Fun challenge!

Ann on May 04, 2010 5:59 am said...

"Errrr...Waiter...There's a Warthog in My Stew...."
Good Lord, you deserve an award for that!

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