For Election Night Gatherings:
Old-Fashioned Southern Brunswick Stew Recipe

We all collect recipes for special occasions. But who has special recipes for Election Day gatherings and Election Night parties? 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

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

The facts are apocryphal so 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. 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, whatever your politics, 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.

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.

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.


Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Time to table: 4 – 9 hours
Serves 12
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • About 1-1/2 pounds chicken thighs, 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

Preheat oven to 300F.

In a small bowl, combine 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. Set aside and keep warm.

Add a splash 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.

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 WW Old Points 5, WW PointsPlus 6 This recipe has been 'Alanna-sized'.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via 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, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2011

Chocolate Chili (<< personal favorite) Baked Apples Trio of Sandwich & Cracker Spreads (Cranberry Orange Spread, Almond Cilantro Spread & Sun-Dried Tomato Spread) Thick Chops with Sauerkraut White Chicken Chili Lamb with Lemon & Oregano Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin Healthy Trail Mix Homemade Sazón Champion Chicken

This Week, Elsewhere

Lamb Burgers from Nico
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Creamy Carrot Purée
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

More Fall & Winter Stew Recipes

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Winter Stew Chicken Cider Stew Fall Stew Baked in a Whole Pumpkin

More Recipes from the American South

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Gumbo Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Grits (or Pumpkin Grits or Butternut Squash Grits) Southern Belle Lemon Layer Cake
~ more southern recipes ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

© Copyright 2012 Kitchen Parade

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, with that information (and do repeat your request, please) and I'll get to work! (More information here.)


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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