Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew

For Election Night Gatherings

We all collect recipes for special occasions. But who has special recipes for Election Day gatherings and Election Night parties? Now you do! Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew is an old southern tradition to lure people to the polls. It's a simple stew, just layers of different meats and favorite southern vegetables like corn, okra and lima beans. And it's healthy too, great for parties but simple enough for family meals too.

Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew, another healthy recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, an old southern tradition for election gatherings, layers of different meats and favorite southern vegetables like corn, okra and lima beans.

Traditional Food for Election Day in the American South. Real Food, Fresh & Flexible. Budget Friendly. One-Pot Meal. How to Feed a Crowd. Potluck & Party Friendly. High Protein.

“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
~ The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the 1962 movie

Cast Your Ballot, Stop By for Stew: Election Night Fare

Maybe you've heard, it's election time in the United States, the most consequential election since the 1860s, perhaps only since the 1960s but either way, a long while. I wrote this column in 2012, with what now seems like pollyann-ish idealism that giant cauldrons of a hunter-style stew might draw people to the polls. Instead, let it be action on democracy, including voting rights, women's rights, climate change, infrastructure and so much more. This isn't just "any" election, where if we don't like how it turns out over time, we can just "vote the b*s*a*ds out" the next time. This is a fight that has consequences that will last generations. This is a fight that may well determine whether the United States becomes a failed state under minority authoritarian rule. Since 2012, how far we've stooped. Let's gird ourselves with stew.

The facts are apocryphal so me, I’m sticking with the legend about Brunswick Stew, the story that captured my fancy when I looked for healthy election-night party food a couple of years ago.

The story is that in certain times and places in the American South, political players would use a big pot of thick stew – traditionally squirrel meat with southern-style vegetables like corn, lima beans and okra – to lure people to the polls on election day.

"Cast your ballot, stop by for stew," was the premise.

Whenever the pot got low, someone would head to the woods with a shotgun for more meat for the pot.

Would the promise of a pot of stew draw you to your polling station? In a few days, it will once again be time to perform our civic duty, our personal privilege, by voting.

I’ll be casting my ballot, I hope you will too.

And when the polls close and the votes are tallied, I sincerely hope that no matter the outcome, people of all political persuasions will gather round pots of Brunswick Stew to become something much closer to the “United” States of America than we’ve become in recent years.

There will plenty of time, tomorrow, to stand up for our ideology and our candidate. On this night, let’s celebrate our right to vote, the privilege of fair elections, even if the process, the road to the polls, is as messy and unpredictable as a big pot of squirrel stew.

What's In Brunswick Stew?

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • The Proteins Got any squirrel? LOL, it's traditional but optional. Use a mix of meats here, I specify chicken thighs and beef stew meat but if you happen to have venison, ham, a pork roast, go for it.
  • The Seasoning Kick it up with Cajun seasoning, either a spice blend you already have, your own favorite or my own special blend, the recipe is included.
  • The Veggies Start off with sautéed onion + celery + green pepper + garlic but later add layers of canned tomato, frozen lima beans, frozen corn, fresh or frozen okra.
  • The Stewing Liquid I use chicken stock because, well, it's such a No-Big-Deal to make. Other stocks would work, so would plain water though you may want to increase the seasoning.

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe old-fashioned stew hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew, another healthy recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, an old southern tradition for election gatherings, layers of different meats and favorite southern vegetables like corn, okra and lima beans.


Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 4 – 9 hours
Makes about 12 cups
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1-1/2 pounds chicken thighs, pieces halved if large
  • About 1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut in bite-size pieces
  • Splash water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces frozen lima beans
  • 8 ounces frozen corn
  • 12 ounces frozen okra
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Heat oven to 300F/150C.

In a small bowl, combine the Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium high until shimmery. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle with << half >> the seasoning. Cook until brown and crispy, set aside and keep warm. (BROWNING TIPS The skillet should be hot enough that the chicken sizzles when put into the pan. Leave room between the pieces, no crowding. Let the chicken cook, without moving, until brown on one side before turning to cook the other side.)

In the same skillet, cook the beef pieces the same way, using the remaining << half >> of the seasoning. Set aside and keep warm.

Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan, then add the onion, celery, green pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to turn a beautiful gold color. Add garlic and cook one more minute. Set aside.

In a large wide oven-safe braising pan, build the “layers”:

  • Half the onion-celery-pepper mix
  • Cooked chicken thighs
  • Half the tomato
  • Half the frozen vegetables
  • Remaining onion-pepper mix
  • Cooked beef
  • Remaining vegetables

Add the chicken stock, cover and cook in the oven for at least three hours and up to six hours until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Serve tableside with rice or grits and good humor.

HOMEMADE CAJUN SEASONING BLEND For two tablespoons Cajun Seasoning, mix 1-1/2 teaspoons each of paprika and cumin with 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, thyme and oregano. So easy, right? I mix nearly all my own spice blends, see DIY Spice Blends & Homemade Seasonings.
ALANNA’s TIPS This stew makes a lot but is eminently adaptable based on what’s on hand and who’s expected for dinner. For planning, allow 1 thigh and about 1/8 pound beef per person. Another story about Brunswick Stew is that it’s used to clean out the freezer just before the opening of hunting season. So for a recent batch, I combined chicken with venison round and smoked shanks. Very good! Chicken thighs are much cheaper than breasts plus the dark meat has so much more tender flavor. I love the convenience of boneless, skinless thighs but if they’re not available, just strip the skins off bone-in thighs. So much for shortcuts. One potful, I used a bag of frozen “gumbo” vegetable mix. Bad, bad idea.
FOR MORE INFO If you "skipped straight to the recipe," please scroll back to the top of this page for ingredient information, ingredient substitutions, tips and more. If you print this recipe, you'll want to check the recipe online for even more tips and extra information about ingredient substitutions, best results and more. See https://www.kitchenparade.com/2012/10/old-fashioned-southern-brunswick-stew-recipe.html .
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Serving: 249 Calories; 7g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 68mg Cholesterol; 640mg Sodium; 17g Carb; 4g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 27g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Sorry, due to technical issues during a laptop conversion, WW points will be added later. This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized'.

Seasonal Cooking: Fall Recipes Across the Years

Chocolate Chili (<< personal favorite) Baked Apples Homemade Applesauce Trio of Sandwich & Cracker Spreads (Cranberry Orange Spread, Almond Cilantro Spread & Sun-Dried Tomato Spread) Thick Chops with Sauerkraut & Apples White Chicken Chili Lamb with Lemon & Oregano Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin Healthy Trail Mix Homemade Sazón Champion Chicken Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew Stuffed Mushrooms with Cauliflower & Smoked Gouda #PieDayFriday

This Week, Elsewhere

~ Lamb Burgers ~
from Nico (sadly, closed in 2014)
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

~ Creamy Carrot Purée ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

More Fall & Winter Stew Recipes

~ stew recipes ~
Chicken Stew with Chickpeas & Kale ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty, one-pot supper dish for the stovetop or slow cooker, with warm spices and fresh vegetables. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. High Protein. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep.

Squash & Carrot Stew ♥ KitchenParade.com, a low-calorie spice-rich vegetable stew with butternut squash and carrots. Two versions, one for the stovetop, another for a slow cooker. Vegan. Weight Watchers Friendly. Gluten Free.

Beef & Mushroom Stew ♥ KitchenParade.com, a classic recipe with flavorful gravy and great texture.

More Recipes from the American South

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Slow-Cooked Greens & Smoked Turkey ♥ KitchenParade.com, healthy leafy greens cooked until tender and luscious with a smoked turkey leg or ham hocks. Low Carb. Low Cal. High Protein. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep and Weight Watchers.

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Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) ♥ KitchenParade.com, a 'skinny' pot of grits, conveniently cooked in the slow cooker with sweet potato (or pumpkin or butternut squash) and mik plus just a tablespoon of butter stirred in to finish.

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ chicken recipes ~
~ beef recipes ~
~ lima bean recipes ~
~ corn recipes ~
~ okra recipes ~

~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail, you'll find my current address in the FAQs. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2012 & 2022 (repub)

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Anonymous11/11/2012

    i LOVE Caleco's butter for their steak ,I would love to know how to make it .
    I just found this website and I want to thank you for posting these recipies I love to cook and like to see if I can make my food taste as good as the resturant

  2. Hi Anonymous, I hope you get this message! I think you are writing because I write the restaurant recipe request column for the Post-Dispatch? If so, I'd be happy to ask Caleco's for the recipe for their steak butter. But I do need your name / city so if you would please write to the address, RecipeRequest@post-dispatch.com with that information (and do repeat your request, please) and I'll get to work! (More information here.)


Post a Comment

Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna