Brunswick Stew, April Daring Cooks

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.

This is basically a hunter’s style stew from Virginia and Georgia. So first things first, I went rabbit hunting. It was a great opportunity to spend some time outside in the fresh air with my Friend Kyle and my cousin’s son Cam.

We had the best intentions of being on the trails come sunrise. Well due to a forgotten 4 wheeler key, that didn’t happen. So in the end we only saw one rabbit and one Ptarmigan and didn’t get a shot at either. Still, all in all, it was a beautiful Spring day and I can’t wait to try again.

Lucky for me, my wonderful local butcher always has frozen bunnies in stock. Check out the Rabbit Cacciatore blog for a bit of information on how to butcher. I cut up the rabbit into legs, bellies, ribs, and loin.

The day before the stew was made I whipped up a slow simmered chicken stock. I used a whole organic chicken, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, bay, rosemary, thyme, and peppercorns. The chicken was slowly simmered for about an hour and then it was removed and cooled. When the meat was cool enough to handle, I picked all the meat from the chicken and put the bones back in the pot to continue simmering. After a few hours, cool, strain, and defat the stock.

Day Of

First into the pot is some bacon lardons and then I went with 3 seeded and chopped serrano chiles. When the bacon has rendered most of its fat, pull out the bacon and chiles and reserve. I added a bit of olive oil to the pot and then started the process  of browning the pieces of rabbit. It took doing it in batches so that the pot didn’t become overcrowded. Make sure to season both sides with salt and pepper. It smelled so good at this early stage that I promptly ate both of the belly pieces right out of the skillet. (cooks prerogative)

Pull out all the rabbit and set aside. Now into the same pot goes a diced red onion. Use this and a good flat edged wooden spoon to loosen as much of the pan fond as possible.

These were sweated for a few minutes and then the pot was deglazed with homemade chicken stock. It was about 3 cups and that was then reduced by about half. I then put the rabbit back in the pot along with the chiles and bacon. Add more stock to cover along with some bay leaves, thyme, and a bit of chopped sage. This was simmered slowly on the stove for about 90 minutes. I put a lid on but had it cocked open a bit.

After the 90 minutes, I pulled out the rabbit pieces to cool. Now I added in my celery, more onion, baby yellow potatoes, and carrots. These simmered while I picked the rabbit carcass. Then I added back the rabbit meat, the chicken meat from yesterday’s stock, frozen corn, frozen lima beans, and a small can of diced tomatoes. The stock was then seasoned with a very healthy dose of Tabasco and a bit of red wine vinegar.  

From looking at several other Daring Cook’s posts, I decided on a drop dumpling. Mine were inspired by a Jamie Oliver recipe. They were 3 cups of AP flour, 16 Tbsps cold butter, 1 1/2 Tbsps baking powder, salt, milk, and a bunch of fresh chopped tarragon.

Cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then bring the dough together with just a little bit of milk. It doesn’t take much. Do not overwork or knead the dough. Just bring it together and then use your hands to roll out into a couple of thick ropes. Cut the dough into about 18-20 equal pieces. Now roll the pieces into balls and set gently on top of the stew. Grate about 1/2 of a nutmeg over the top of the dumplings.

Now the whole pot goes into a pre-heated 375F oven uncovered. Leave them alone for about 35 minutes. I then pulled out and brushed the tops with melted butter. Allow to bake for another 10 minutes.

When they come out, the entire top has been sealed by the dumplings. The tops of the dumplings are also golden brown and have a crispy top. The whole kitchen at this point smells amazing. I of course had some immediately.

It is a very tasty and hearty stew, especially with the added dumplings. Parts of the original recipe had weird steps and certain things seemed out of order to me. I really wanted to deglaze with wine after browning the rabbit. One of those old recipes that has a long history and is done that way because that is always the way it has been done I guess.

I may or may not make this again in the future. I will however make the dumplings again. I will also definitely make the Rabbit Cacciatore that I discovered while researching this recipe over and over.

Be sure to check out the other Daring Cook’s take on this challenge.


~ by climbhighak on April 14, 2010.

35 Responses to “Brunswick Stew, April Daring Cooks”

  1. Mmm mmm MMM! Looks wonderful. The dumplings are a great idea (and thanks for sharing the recipe with us).

    Your butcher sounds way cooler than mine. 😦

  2. So ambitious that you wanted to use fresh (and I mean FRESH) rabbit! Your stew looks delicious and those dumplings look so yummy, I want to taste one through my screen! Great job!

  3. Cam looks cool seating infront of you, that’s a gorgeous shot, lovely view! Did he realize that you guys were hunting for little bunny?=;)
    I like the dumpling idea. I will have to try that recipe next time. I’m surprised i can’t find rabbit here in my neighborhood, that’s why i opted for oxtail.

    I will check on that rabbit cacciatore blog.

    • Actually that is Kyle with Cameron. Cameron has been on hunts since he was in diapers. We let him carry his own gun (no bullets). Then after we let him shoot at some cans.

  4. Great you were able to use rabbit meat… I wasn’t so lucky. Love the idea of dopped dumplings – perfect accompaniment fo this stew!
    Cheers. Anula

  5. The stew looks really good but the dumplings look incredible! I wouldn’t have thought of adding those but I bet they’re fantastic!

  6. Looks really tasty. I was not brave enough to find a rabbit, so I used a game hen and some pork. I also browned my onions. Great job on the challenge. Cheers!

  7. Nice job with the challenge – and a great idea to use the dumpling crust (we are big fans of Jamie Oliver’s stuff too). From your first picture, it seems like it’s definitely still ‘hearty stew weather’ for you!

  8. Your version of the stew with the dumplings look so delicious. Great job!

  9. oh it looks delicious and I love the step by step pictures.

  10. When I read you went rabbit hunting, I was like: “OMG, he’s using a rabbit he’s hunted himself, this is sooo cool”. You disappointed me ;o). No, not really! I’m so impressed that you almost hunted a rabbit! The stew looks very delicious! I also used rabbit – this was my first rabbit ever, and I even had to butcher it. But I made it, and it was scrumptious!

    • I think I know why we weren’t seeing many rabbits. Today (4/15), we went back to the same place and had a huge lynx come out on the trail behind us. I think the lynx has been eating rabbit even more than me.

  11. Dumplings look really tasty!

  12. Your dumplings look delicious

  13. Here we have 90 degree weather (well, not today, lol), and you still have snow. This amuses me.}:P

    Great job on the Challewnge! I am so making those dumplings after I go buy a new Tarragon plant- mine didn’t overwinter, bummer.

    • The snow is melting fast. Sunrise today was 6:42am and sunset will be 9:18pm. I think we are gaining 5+ minutes of sunlight per day. So summer will be here soon enough.

  14. The drop dumplings look amazing! Extra props for such creativity.

  15. While I am vegetarian, so can’t fully appreciate your efforts, your stew looks great. Those dumplings are calling to me… I love that you really held true to the roots of the recipe but hunting your own rabbit… Good work!!

  16. Nice job! And I have to say I applaud your efforts to actually go and shoot a rabbit. I saw ptarmigan when I visited Alaska. How is that meat?

  17. Robert,
    Your version looks so comforting and hearty, especially with those nice biscuits – I will definitely try this in the Fall, with rabbit. But that Rabbit Cacciatore! OMG! Polenta is my new favorite comfort food side dish! We may have fresh produce here, but I can’t hop on my snowmobile and go rabbit hunting in the beautiful wilderness…

    • Scroll back several blogs and look for “What to do with fresh egg”. It has a great little dish of creamy polenta with bacon and green onions served with a farm fresh poached egg on top. One of my favorite ways to eat polenta.

  18. Robert…I think the only person who could get me to eat bunny would be you, because your experience with game is out of this world – and your dishes using it look sensational. I have no doubt bunny tastes’s just the fluffy image, can’t bring myself to take that step LOL

    That said..your stew is quintessential Brunswick perfection and OH MY GOD..those dumplings are killing me! I’m a dumpling fanatic to the 1000th degree, from spaetzle to matzo balls to bread dumplings — EVERY KIND of steamed or boiled doughy love. I was thinking of doing a dumpling on my ‘not so’ Brunswick stew. Seeing yours, I now wish I did 😦

    Finally, what I meant by ‘There’s always that one person..’ was, there’s always that one person that might think I’m serious about popping squirrels with a slingshot, and then the emails, the protests etc etc..LOL

  19. Those dumplings look fantastic! What a great addition to this stew!

  20. Wow you are right our dumplings do look similar. Your stew photos are amazing – it makes me want to try rabbit in my next stew. Great blog BTW

  21. You had me drooling reading about the browned rabbit belly. I would have eaten them too while cooking.:)

    Fantastic looking stew and dumplings!

    • There are often benefits to hanging out in the kitchen while someone is cooking. Those little pieces of belly reminded me so much of bacon even without any smoking. Sometimes a simple ingredient, some salt & pepper, and a little technique can make magic.

  22. How lucky you are that you hunt. When I was a kid, we had rabbit, biscuits and gravy all the time. Just had to pick through the buckshot, sometimes. The dumplings are a great idea! I’ll pass it on to my daughter who cooks better than I.

  23. I really love that you used a whole chicken to make the stock, but also used the meat in the stew itself – I have a hard time with any recipe that calls for discarding that much meat. Your stew must have been doubly delicious.

    Those are some gorgeous dumplings too!

    • I didn’t have homemade stock on hand. So to maximize the bird I did things this way. Ideally I would have had homemade stock already and then the chicken could have been browned like the rabbit.

      Any recipe that calls for tossing out meat from a poached chicken is from a wasteful cook and immediately is dismissed. At least chicken salad or chicken soup would be in order.

  24. Robert: You’re stew looks great, and I especially like the idea of the dumplings. I have a couple of questions-have you ever eaten wild rabbit from around here? Does it taste like the domestic ones? I live in Eagle River, and always have rabbits around. Next question-what butcher do you use? Last year when looking for rabbits, I could only find them in the valley at Matanuska Meats. Bought several of them, then noticed later the sticker that said they came from China. I really would rather my meat come from a little closer to home.

    • The wild rabbit tastes stronger, especially in the fat. It tastes more like the tundra. My butcher is Mr. Prime Beef at Old Seward Hwy and 76th. I didn’t notice any made in China stickers. Will ask when I go in next time.

      Their house made sausages are amazing. Great customer service on special orders as well. I have bought everything from bones to birds, to whole pigs. They also carry not so ordinary stuff like capon, ground buffalo, bison, duck, goose, etc. Stuff that many of my cook friends in the states seem to have trouble locating.

  25. Your dumpling topped stew looks rather amazing!

  26. Your stew looks great! The dumplings looks wonderful and you take very good pictures of your food too.

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