Welcome to Don’t Shoot the Food, a semi-regular series where I combine my love of gaming with my love of cooking and eating.
This week, I gave some thought to what a tired, cold and half-insane engineer would want to eat after a day of slicing up hideously mutated versions of his dead co-workers. I hope they have BBQ sauce in space as Don’t Shoot the Food takes on Dead Space 2.
This week’s Don’t Shoot the Food focuses on a staple of BBQ joint menus for decades, the always delicious Brunswick Stew. I’m not sure why I thought of this dish when I was thinking of Dead Space 2 but there are some similarities. Like the necromorphs and the markers of Dead Space 2, Brunswick Stew has questionable origins with both Virginia and Georgia claiming to be the birthplace of the dish. Also, like the necromorphs, Brunswick Stew is a mish-mash of different meats and vegetables, all thrown together and served up in a somewhat pulpy presentation. Finally, I just like saying Dead Space 2 Brunswick Stew. It rolls right off the tongue!
Traditionally, Brunswick Stew is prepared with whatever critters you bagged while you were out in the woods hunting, so things like squirrel and rabbit would end up in the pot. Nowadays folks use the more pedestrian meats like chicken and pork but feel free to throw in whatever you like. That being said, I wouldn’t waste any prime cuts of meat on this dish as I’m sure you can find better uses for it than this dish. Brunswick Stew also usually contains corn or peas but if you want to bring this dish back to its southern roots, throw in some black eyed peas or okra. It’s hard to screw up this dish so feel free to experiment with whatever vegetables you’d like. In fact, for our non-meat eaters, you can go completely vegetarian for this dish, an example of which you can find with this recipe for Vegetarian Brunswick Stew.
There are plenty of recipes and variations on the dish out there, but I decided to go with “My Mama’s Brunswick Stew” a recipe I found in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The AJC has a pretty good food section with lots of good recipes and this one is no different. Full credit goes to Wendell Brock as it’s his recipe. Well, technically it’s his mama’s but you get the idea. This recipe serves a ton of people (18 – 20) so feel free to cut it down, or make a big old batch and then freeze some. Also, plan on a long cook for this one so for the best results, make this a day ahead, let it sit in the fridge overnight so that the flavors can marry and then serve it the next day.
My Mama’s Brunswick Stew – Wendell Brock
1. 1 Boston butt or small picnic shoulder (6-8 pounds) – you can have the bone in or out, doesn’t matter
2. 1½ pounds ground beef
3. 1½ pounds ground turkey or ground chicken
4. 2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes
5. 2 28 ounce chopped tomatoes
6. 1 40-ounce bottle of your choice of barbecue sauce – the original recipe calls for Kraft Hickory Smoke Barbecue Sauce but you can use whatever you like. BBQ sauce is a great way to adjust the flavor profile of this dish to your liking as there’s a BBQ sauce out there for everyone. Hot, spicy, sweet, you name it, you can find it.
7. 1 15 ounce can cream-style corn
8. 1 15 ounce can whole-kernel corn
9. ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
10. 2 tablespoons hot sauce – Texas Pete’s is big in my house, or, if you really want to bring the flavor, rock the Sriracha sauce
11. 2 tablespoons black pepper
12. 1 tablespoon salt
13. 2 cans (15 ounces) English peas – again, you can use whatever vegetables here you want or skip them altogether
1. If you really want to make this stew a BBQ powerhouse, smoke the Boston butt and then shred it. This will add to the cooking time substantially though, unless you have a 4 – 6 pounds of pulled pork in your freezer. If you do, woohoo! If not, put the pork in a large stock pot, cover it with water and bring the water to a boil. Skim off the foam, lower the heat to low and simmer the meat for 2 – 3 hours. Keep an eye on the meat as you don’t want it to overcook. Either use a meat thermometer or cut into the meat to determine when it’s done. Once the meat is done, let it cool completely and then either chop or shred the meat into small bits. Mmm, small pork bits.
2. While the pork is cooking, cook all of the ground meats and drain off all of the fat.
3. Get a very, very large pot and put all of the ingredients in it. Yes, all of it. Stir it all up so that it’s completely mixed, bring it to a boil and then lower the heat until you’ve got a nice simmer going. Let the stew simmer for no less than an hour, stirring frequently. If the stew isn’t the thickness you want, keep on cooking it until it reduces to the consistency you’re looking for.
You have plenty of beverage options for this dish. A cold beer works well, or if you’re a wine drinker, grab a pinot noir and rock the fuck out. If you like wine with a southern touch, why not brew up a tasty batch of corn cob wine? I have two huge mason jars of the stuff in my fridge right now and it is delightful. When the wine is made in your pantry, it has to be good.
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