Brunswick Stew


Growing up in Virginia, Brunswick stew was definitely a part of the dinner table on more than one occasion.

From the famous Mrs. Fearnow’s “yellow can” (made in VA!) to local church & school Brunswick stew sales around town (it’s a tradition to make huge cauldrons of the stew for fundraising) – Brunswick stew is just about as Virginia as can be IMO!


Wellllll, technicallyyyyyy there is a debate of whether it originated in Brunswick County, VA or Brunswick, GA if we want to go there.

But who’s into technicalities anyway? 😉

Now if you’ve never heard of or had Brunswick stew, I’ll highlight the important facts for you:

  • tomato-based stew w/ beans (lima or butter), corn, okra, other veggies and meat
  • resembles thick veggie soup w/ meat, what makes it a stew is the consistency (thick! more meat/veg than liquid)
  • Virginia version uses chicken and sometimes rabbit as primary meat vs. Georgia where pork and beef are favored along with squirrel
  • the stew is usually allowed to cook for long periods of time (vs. soup)

My version tonight featured chicken.  Let’s face it, I’m not really in the market for cooking up a squirrel on a Tuesday night… just sayin 😉  But to each their own!

CookinFanatic Brunswick Stew

  • 2 (approx. 1lb) whole, skinless chicken legs
  • 2.5 cups reserved cooking water (from chicken)
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 red potatoes (medium size), peeled & diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cups frozen lima beans
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tblsp sugar
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste

I started with the whole chicken legs, which I picked up at Whole Foods and are usually a pretty great price (apparently I’m the only dark meat eater in Richmond?)

I placed them into boiling water and let cook for about 10 minutes until they were done.

Then I removed the chicken from the pot and removed the meat from the bone, shredding into small pieces.

Save the cooking liquid!!!

I added the diced onion to the hot pan along with 1 tsp olive oil, letting them soften for 5 minutes.  Then added the shredded chicken plus some sea salt & black pepper.

I let this cook over medium for another minute or two before adding the lima beans and corn.

Then in went 2.5 cups of the reserved chicken broth plus the tomato sauce.

And the spices:  poultry seasoning, oregano, more salt and pepper.

And surprise…. sugar!!

I let this come up to a boil and then turned down to a simmer, covered. 

Since I had the time this afternoon, I let this cook for about 2 hours before adding the potatoes.  Stirring occasionally.

**If you want to take a shortcut and don’t have the time to let this cook that long, then go ahead and keep at a boil and add your potatoes now! 😀 **

After about 2 hours you will have the most tender fall apart stew.  At this point, add your diced potatoes and let simmer away for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are very very tender. 

The trick is that you want all the ingredients to kind of become one (at least I think so) which is why the longer cooking time is ideal.

However the shortcut route will still achieve great flavor, just a little different consistency I think.

Bam.  Loved it. 😛

And yes, you got that right…. I actually ate real food tonight (see ya never bread w/ cream cheese!)

That’s a celebration in itself now isn’t it?

One that I’m very thankful for since this morning I was not feeling so hot again.  Another trip to the doctor and lots of rest later, seems like things are looking up finally!  Hoping I can shake this thing once and for all 😛

Tell me, have you ever had Brunswick stew????


28 responses to “Brunswick Stew

  1. Good call on substituting chicken! Looks nice & comforting – yum!

  2. SO glad to hear you’re feeling better. I have heard of brunswick stew but never had any idea what it was! I love how thick it is- I’m a bigger fan of thicker stews/soups vs. the thinner variety.

  3. MMmmm. I’m currently simmering myself some red beans & rice…but this looks sooo good too! Lovelovelovelovelove those skinless chicken thighs. I’m definitely team dark meat 🙂

    Glad you are feeling better lady!!! ❤

  4. I’m a Brunswick stew snob. Growing up I only called this type of stew Granddaddy stew because my grandfather always made it. He used both beef and chicken (with butterbeans, corn, potaotes, and tomato juice). He cooked it outdoors in an iron cauldron for many hours over an open fire. He constantly stirred it with a forked and debaked dogwood branch. What delicious memories.
    Many years later my future husband tried to get me to eat Mrs. Fearnow’s. Could not do it. I attempt to make Granddaddy Stew on my stove these days. I come close, but it’s not quite the same.

    Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories!

  5. First time I had brunswick stew was at the brunswick festival. Had different versions and a friend gave me a family recipe too. I agree about dark meat at whole foods, so much cheaper than the white meat! This looks so hearty!

  6. Oh this would be so yummy with rabbit! I can’t wait to make it, although I’ll use chicken as well 😉

  7. Squirrel? Bunny rabbit? I would probably stick to chicken, too. 🙂 It looks delicious – I’ve never heard of it! I’m a big fan of stews….maybe it’s all in my head, but they seem to fill me up more than soups.

    I’m SO glad you are feeling better, girl. Hope you get some rest and here’s to the (hopefully rapidly approaching) weekend!!

  8. oh wow did this bring back memories, my mom and grandmother used to make this to sneak lima beans into my meal! i loved it! definitely reminds me of when I was younger 🙂

  9. LOVE Brunswick stew, though I’ve never made it myself! Thanks for the awesome recipe! However, I am the only one in this house that will actually eat it. But, good news – I can freeze & also share the wealth with my parents who love it too!

  10. George Fearnow

    We sold the business in 1999, and I retired after 30 years of making Brunswick Stew. My Grandmother, my mother & father, and my aunt & uncle made the stew from about 1929. Comment on history. Brunswick stew origin lies with the spices used. Williamsburg was most likely the start of Brunswick Stew but Brunswick County, VA and Brunswick, Georgia will protest that.
    Recipe suggestions: 1.) Use white shoe-peg corn 2.) Use a whole chicken to get the best broth. 3.) Save the lesser fatty pieces of skin to be minced and added back in. 4.) Use salt & sugar in equal amounts but maybe less if you use sea salt. 5.) Use red pepper & black pepper. 6.) Use whole tomatoes but crush and dice in a 50/50 mix. 7.) Use russet potatoes (thickness increases directly by stirring). 8.)Onions & carrots should minced. 9.) Okra can be used but it can be bitter sometimes. 9.) Oregano & poultry seasoning were never in Brunswick Stew of colonial times. 10.) Yes – The original recipe calls for squirrel or wild game.

  11. Mr. Fearnow, many thanks for your responses! Have been a big fan of your family recipe in the big yellow cans for years!!! Been trying to locate your “namesake” stew for about 6 months now, and guess Bost Distributing isn’t making it right now/anymore? Not on their shopping site, but still listed on their company website. Oh my goodness, I may be forced to start cooking again!

    • George Fearnow

      They went bankrupt. Nobody is making now. I have not heard what they intend to do about selling the brand name. Government regulations are stacked against small canneries. You cannot divide the expensive government regulations with the smaller production count. In the 1950’s, there were over 600 canneries in Virginia. when I sold out, we were one of the last 4 canneries left in the state. Bobby Ukrop might be interested in producing it, but I have not heard anything definite. Brunswick stew is a lot of work especially for a small batch.

      • PookiesMama

        Ahhhh, the challenges of our economy and its affect on small businesses! Well, it’s missed by many! But, looks like I’ll need to cook up a storm! Thanks SOOO much for caring enough to reply. Much appreciated!

  12. Seems like a good small batch business for local fairs amd farmer’s markets, especially if it tastes close to the “yellow can” – that would even be a good uncopyrighted name for it ! Any takers ?? LOL
    I have been trying to get the taste close to the yellow can (usually you want your own distict flavors but not in this case – LOL) and have come to an acceptable replacement until I see it on the shelves again !

    • George Fearnow

      Somebody took it over, and is selling Wal-Mart again. I have not seen it anywhere else but Wal-Mart. I do not know who the new owners are. It has changed hands at least 4 times. They might still be using Bost name.

      • Yes indeed it is sold in selected Wall-Mart stores. Thank You Mr. Fearnow for all your hard labor in making this stew a wonderful childhood memory. The soup is far tastier than the sum of its parts. It must be that secret spice blend. Now I can enjoy it again. I still can’t make anything that tastes like it.

  13. Judi Bailey

    Yippe , glad to report Mrs Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew in back on the market. It can be ordered on line and has been released to Walmart stores. Just ordered my first case…can’t wait !! Interesting to hear from one of the sons !!

  14. Is Walmart the only store to purchase at? We had it for sale at our local Kroger but it keeps selling out and has been out of stock for weeks. I am going to try my hand at recreating to the best of my ability. Mrs. Fearnow’s is truly THE BEST!!!

  15. Tracy Clary

    For any and everyone who have left comments here regarding Brunswick Stew; If you are interested in sampling a brand new start-up brand of Brunswick Stew, please contact me via e-mail at The new brand is just getting off the ground and they are looking for some Brunswick Stew connoisseurs to sample and complete a short survey. This new brand is being prepared by a life-long Stewmaster and Brunswick County, Virginia resident, using a recipie thats been in his family for many generations. It is Award Winning Brunswick Stew !!!!
    Please contact them by e-mail, ASAP.

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  20. Susan Kendall

    I have been enjoying Mrs.Fearnow’s Brunswick Stew most of my life (about 50 yrs), since my native-Richmonder mother kept it stocked in our kitchen. I can buy it in northern Virginia at Walmart, and I am so thankful! Mr. George Fearnow referred (above) to Brunswick Stew’s likely origin in Williamsburg, and it is served there currently. Best wishes to the Fearnow family!

  21. I have found that it taste best if I cook it in my crockpot for at least 24 hours. There is a reason those old guys liked to stay up all night stirring the cauldrons of stew… besides drinking a little alcohol and telling stories. Also many of the recipes I have found call for BBQ Sauce. I have added a little and some Worchestershire sauce too. I will save half of the corn to add it near the end of cooking so it still has some bite. But the flavors really meld well the longer you cook it. We always took Mrs Fearnow’s to at least one tailgate each fall. So when it was harder to find and when the price skyrocketed, I decided to try and make it myself. The best advice I can give you is to increase your cook time. Even a few hours on low on the stove top would make it taste better if you don’t want to leave it overnight in a crockpot.

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