|March 21, 2011||Posted by Cheeks under Freezer food, Leftovers, Main Course|
Being a Midwesterner has its advantages. I like to think we’re heartier than people who grew up on the beach or in warmer climes, having lived through and learned to endure many, many long, frigid, snowy, everlasting winters. Sowed in the land of farms and factories, we’re practical and resourcesful, certainly not wasteful. For the most part from small towns, not cities, we’re friendly and trusting and perhaps a bit naive. So what if I’m over-generalizing and being a bit stereotypical – it’s also a bit true.
We take a lot of flak, too, from both coasts about these qualities. The Fargo-esque accents, the wide-eyed tourists, the simple farmer, the gullible rube. But, damnit, I love the Midwest. To me, the same qualities others might eschew are those which make us proud. I’d rather live in a world where you can trust your neighbor to once where you constantly watch your back. I think we, as a culture, have by and large strayed from appreciating simpler pleasures and savoring the gifts we have, qualities that the rolling hills, bountiful forests, and Great Lakes in my part of the country remind me of every day. I wouldn’t choose to be from any other place, and I’m proud to call the square middle of the country home.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like to travel – quite the opposite, in fact. Since traveling also requires money, I do a lot of my traveling and exploring at home, in the kitchen, trying out regional dishes and traditional meals from other places in the country and world.
Like this Brunswick Stew, the recipe for which I found on Belle of the Kitchen’s Blog. We “met” on the Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen food networking site and I’ve spent some time reading her blog, learning about her Southern roots and recipes. The photographs from this post looked too good for words, and since in this Midwestern city I call home winter is still quite present, a hearty, warming bowl of chicken and vegetable stew sounded just right.
This is a strange recipe to this Midwestern girl – it’s sweet and tart, thick and unctuous. Ketchup, brown sugar, and lemon slices in a vegetable stew? But rust it – and let it simmer the whole 4 hours. When I tasted it in the begging, I found the flavors wildly unbalanced and was just about to tinker. But, lest a northerner mistrust a southern institution, I just went with it, and 4 hours later the flavors had mellowed and come together.
It’s unlike other chicken and vegetable soups I’ve had, and it’s at once hearty and light – the chicken, corn and lima beans are filling without being heavy on the palate or in the belly. Plus, it’s just pretty – the red tomatoes, green limas, and yellow kernels of corn combine into a darn cute bowl of stew. The only comment I have is – holy lemon. It’s a strong lemon, citrusy flavor. Next time, I think I would leave the lemon out, but that’s just me.
Believe it or not, the version below is halved from the original recipe and still makes quite a lot – at least 6 to 8 servings, I think. I made it on a lazy Sunday afternoon, stuck it in the fridge, and heated it up for Monday’s dinner – couldn’t be easier.
Belle of the Kitchen’s Brunswick Stew
(How I made it, and with the lemon edited out – i just found the citrus flavor way, way too strong.)
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 quarts water
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3/4 cups ketchup
- 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 3 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 15-oz can whole kernel corn, undrained
- 1 14.75-oz can creamed corn
- 1/2 pound frozen lima beans
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
Place chicken thighs in a large soup pot and add the water and 2 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. (I actually needed to make stock, since the container of chicken bones, carrot & celery ends, and onion pieces was getting full, so I just threw the chicken into the stock pot and fished it out, along with a quart of stock, when it was done). Remove chicken to a plate and reserve about 3 cups of stock. (Save the rest for another use or discard.)
Return soup pot to the burner and add the oil. Heat over medium until warm, then add the onion and garlic. Saute 3-4 minutes to develop some color and slightly soften. While onion is working, mix ketchup and next 9 ingredients (through first pepper entry) in a small bowl. Add to the pot, stir, and cook 10 minutes.
Add stock and remaining ingredients to the pot. Shred chicken, discarding skin and bones, and add to pot. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 4 hours.