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.
(originally a chicken broth, adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)
Makes about 1 quart
Estimated Time- 1 ¼ hours
- 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
- 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.
- Strain broth into bowl through fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids, then salt and pepper to taste.
- 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.
(adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook)
Serves about 4.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.