The Daring Cooks’ Challenges 04/10: Brunswick Stew

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. You can find the complete challenge here.

When I read the recipe I had to smile a little bit because just a day earlier or so I had ordered a rabbit for Easter. My FIRST rabbit – cooking-wise and taste-wise. Perfect! The lady at the farm told me I was going to get a whole rabbit. WHAT? A whole rabbit? With the head and offals? I was about to chicken out and asked the hubby if he could cut the head off. He declined… In the end, he agreed to do it, but when I came home with the rabbit I thought I could do it as well. Interestingly, the people at the farm had wrapped up the head in aluminium foil (see picture below). I’ll have to ask them for the reason next time I go there. I wonder if it’s because they know many people would have problems cutting the head off, and if it doesn’t look like a head, it would be a less a problem. Any other ideas?

Anyway, back to the challenge. As I had ordered that rabbit, I decided to take the first recipe  Wolf offered which calls for a tiny amount of rabbit. She also offered a recipe for chicken broth, but I decided to make rabbit broth for the stew. So I cut the head off, discarded it (I know you can use it for broth, but I was absolutely NOT willing to unwrap the rabbit’s head), deboned the rabbit which took me FOREVER and made the rabbit broth.

The mis en place was another thing that took forever. So many different things for this stew (see picture below). But the result was a very scrumptious dish. I just wish I hadn’t added the lemon juice and red wine vinegar in the end. I tasted it before adding both, and it was perfect, but as I’m a rule obeyer I added both (just because the recipe calls for it). It was still good then, but without the sourness it would have been better. I should have trusted my gut over my brain, I think.

Without further ado, here are the recipes for the rabbit broth and the Brunswick stew.

Rabbit broth

(originally a chicken broth, adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)

Makes about 1 quart
Estimated Time- 1 ¼ hours

Ingredients:

  • Bones and trimmings of 1 rabbit
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 6 large stems fresh parsley
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 2″ lengths
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 5 cups cold water
  • 1 cup crisp dry white wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Place bones/trimmings in medium stockpot and add onion, parsley, celery and bay leaves. Add wine and water, liquid should cover all ingredients, if not, add more until it does. Bring to vigorous simmer over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer gently for roughly 45 minutes to an hour.
  2. Strain broth into bowl through fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids, then salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Store in tightly sealed container in refrigerator until the remaining fat congeals on the top. Remove the fat, and unless not using within 2 days, keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator.

Brunswick Stew

(adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)

Serves about 4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz slab bacon, rough diced
  • 2 tsp chili flakes
  • 4 oz rabbit, deboned and diced
  • 1 lb chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
  • 4 cups rabbit broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 8 oz potatoes, peeled, rough diced
  • 1 1/2 small carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup butterbeans
  • 1 cup whole, peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 0,5 oz red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chili flakes.
  2. Season liberally both sides of the rabbit and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the rabbit pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, and rabbit. Set it aside.
  3. Add 1/2 cups of the rabbit broth to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaf, celery, potatoes, chicken, rabbit, bacon, and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours.
  4. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
  5. Add in your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoes. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

This recipe called for only 4 oz of rabbit. Stay tuned for learning what I did with the rest of the rabbit.

29 responses to “The Daring Cooks’ Challenges 04/10: Brunswick Stew

  1. You are so ambitious!! I’m very impressed.

  2. Hahah! Yes! The army of prep bowls definitely made it out of the cupboard for this challenge. :)

    I decided that the next time I serve this stew, I’ll be serving it pho style with all the optional flavorings on the table “to taste”; I didn’t mind the sour the first night, but the leftovers were not the best.

    I’m way impressed with your rabbit deboning skills! Well done!

  3. I love that photo of all the ingredients well done and you are lucky to have ordered a whole! rabbit before hand. Yes I would add the vinegar/lemon juice as a side dish I liked it but some of my guests wanted a touch more sugar in it! Superb effort and thanks for all the support in the forums. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    Lovely photographs!

  4. I knew the stew was a lot of work but seeing all your prep bowls certainly drives it home! Rabbit broth sounds like a great idea: and how fortuitous that you had just ordered rabbit!

  5. So ambitious to use rabbit – and how funny that you had already been planning on trying it! Fate! I love the picture of all of the prep bowls set out. Your stew looks fantastic! Excellent job, as always, on the challenge!

  6. Great job on your challenge and using rabbit as well. It must have been delicious.

  7. as a person that cooks rabbit I can tell you that here in Germany you get the head wrapped because of the eyes and brain. It`s the best part ( no I do not eat it, but have grandmothers that do) and it would spoil if uncovered.
    not to forget it looks crazy.
    your stew looks delicious.

    • Thanks for letting me know why rabbits’ heads are wrapped in aluminium foil. I wonder if that is a German habit or if they do that in other countries, too!

  8. WOW, your picture of the rabbit is crazy. I’m glad you didnt use the head for stock, LOL. Your stew looks great! All the ingredients you put out looks so fresh. Great job on the challenge

  9. Great looking stew! And that rabbit – YUM! Personally I didn’t have an acces to that kind of meat…
    Cheers. Anula.

  10. You’re brave! I don’t know if I could cut up a whole rabbit like that – thank goodness for the foil wrapped head though!

  11. Great job on the stew! I am glad we didn’t put out a formal mise en place for this one – would have flipped over the number of ingredients in it.

  12. Too funny about he rabbit order. And I am impressed with the rabbit stock! Looks amazing.

  13. I agree the mis en place took me forever as well, and in fact I could not fit it all in the photo. In the end though it was worth prepping properly made the rest of the stew a breeze to prepare. Oh and big high fives for using rabbit! One day I will attempt it.. one day.

  14. Your stew looks delicious! I love how organized you are and your rabbit story is so funny, this is definitely a learning experience for us all! Great job!

  15. Looks yummy! I haven’t tried cooking rabbit yet, but now I’m interested.

  16. I am definitely making my next one with rabbit as soon as I catch the pesky cottontail that plagues my vegetable garden every year, just kidding.:D
    It’s always available at the grocery store but without the head.

    Your stew looks delicious!

  17. Wow, even I didn’t use rabbit in mine.}:P Might have been the fact that, despite growing up eating rabbit, I have a real one named Rue.

    LOL

    no idea as to why they wrapped the head, but your guess sounds good to me!

  18. You’re a braver soul than I am… I don’t know if I could have cut the head off, but at least they were nice enough to skin it for you :)

    Great job on the stew btw, sorry to hear the lemon juice and vinegar didn’t work as well as you had hoped.

  19. Great job… While I can’t fully appreciate your efforts due to the fact that I Kosher/vegetarian, I love how you adapted the stock and were brave enough to really go for it! Thank you for sharing your work!

  20. So what did you think of the taste of it?

    I have not had rabbit yet. I would be willing to try it, cook with it. When the opportunity arises. I sure have neough of them in my backyard.

    Fantastic job here.

  21. I have suggestions for the other rabbit. Confit some in either lard or duck fat and then make a rillette. The offals and head could also be boiled to make a terrine.

    • Oh, I already cooked the rest of it – I made a Middle Eastern stew which I still have to blog about. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

  22. Waw!! You did a master job!

    The stew looks fab too!

  23. I am also a fan of your mise en place picture.
    Great job on the challenge!

  24. Love the mise en place photo as well! Your stew looks amazing.

  25. Your stew turned out gorgeous..love how you presented it in a ramekin. You would have to keep the mise en place from me because I would be constantly picking lol

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