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Brunswick Chicken Stew – Edna Lewis – 50 Women Game Changers in Food

by Jeanette on February 24, 2012 · 26 Comments
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Brunswick Chicken Stew

Brunswick Chicken Stew

This past week has been a little challenging from a cooking standpoint…I know some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about since I cook almost every day for my family. After one of my sons had four wisdom teeth removed a week ago, let’s just say that the recovery was slower than we hoped for. At first, the challenge was trying to get my son to eat enough so he could take the pain medication. With swollen chipmunk cheeks and difficulty chewing, he ate only yogurt and pudding for the first day, after which he declared he could not eat any more and wanted some “real” food.

So, for the past week, our entire family has been on a soft food diet at dinnertime simply because I wanted to make one meal, not two every day. The challenge was coming up with foods that were soft, but tasted good, and looked good, which can be a bit tricky, especially with savory foods. Steamed egg pudding, congee, carrot and coriander soup, chicken velvet corn soup, chocolate “mousse” and lots of smoothies (including a Green Smoothie to get some green vegetables into my son’s diet) were good sources of nourishment for the first several days. Eventually, we graduated to lentil chili, stir-fry fish filet, sauteed spinach, and the Brunswick Chicken Stew that I am posting about today.

Brunswick Stew is a traditional American Southern dish, although different variations exist throughout the South.  It is usually a tomato based stew containing some type of meat (rabbit, chicken, beef, pork or squirrel), lima beans, corn, okra and other vegetables.

When I first spotted this Brunswick Chicken Stew recipe by Edna Lewis, I thought it would be perfect as a dinner idea since the chicken would be nice and tender. However, given my son’s slower than expected recovery, it didn’t make it to our dinner menu until a few days ago. Served over quinoa pilaf, this rather rustic dish was filling, nutritious, and more flavorful than I expected. The dark meat was tender enough (cut into small pieces), as were the lima beans and corn, so that my son could have a “real” meal, and the rest of us could too.

Brunswick Chicken Stew served with Quinoa Pilaf

Brunswick Chicken Stew served with Quinoa Pilaf

Today, a group of bloggers are celebrating Edna Lewis, one of the Top 50 Women Game Changers In Food. I had never heard of Edna Lewis before this week, perhaps due to her soft-spoken and quiet demeanor. Edna Lewis, the granddaughter of a former slave, has been described as another “Judith Jones protégée, who brought sophisticated Southern dishes into the spotlight.” According to the New York Times, she “revived the nearly forgotten genre of refined Southern cooking while offering a glimpse into African-American farm life in the early 20th century.”

I did find a few interesting tidbits about Edna Lewis – she sewed a dress for Marilyn Monroe, and until her death, her caregiver was Scott Peacock, a Southern chef, who had lived with her for more than six years, taking care of her as she grew frail, causing a split with her surviving siblings who unsuccessfully tried to move her back to there family home. According to Marion Cunningham, “one of the biggest goals they (Mr. Peacock and Ms. Lewis) had was that they didn’t want to lose the classic Southern dishes, and this was the binding factor. They preached about it, and they wanted to let the country know what the South stood for.”

Edna Lewis published four cookbooks, including The Taste of Country Cooking, which is considered a classic study of Southern cooking. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Association of Culinary Professionals, and the James Beard Living Legend Award (their first such award).

For more recipes by Edna Lewis, please visit the blogs listed at the end of this post.

5 from 1 reviews
Brunswick Chicken Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Adapted from Edna Lewis. The original recipe calls for rabbit or chicken. I used chicken, and made this gluten-free simply by substituting cornstarch for flour when dredging the chicken. I made minor adjustments to the spices, halving the cayenne and doubling the garlic. Delicious served over Quinoa Pilaf.
Serves: 6-8
  • One 3-pound chicken, cut up
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1¾ cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes in juice, drained, reserving juice, chopped
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen corn
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen lima beans
  1. Season chicken parts with salt and pepper.
  2. Whisk cornstarch and cayenne together in a pie pan. Lightly coat chicken in cornstarch, shaking off excess.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Brown chicken pieces, turning over to brown both sides, about 10 minutes in total. Transfer chicken pieces to a plate
  4. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add bay leaf, broth, tomatoes and juice, and chicken. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 50 minutes.
  6. Stir in corn and lima beans, and simmer another 15-20 minutes, uncovered, until vegetables are tender.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf and serve.

If you’re interested in joining our group as we cook our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, just ask Mary from One Perfect Bite. Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Edna Lewis:

Annie from Most Lovely Things
Linda from There and Back Again
Val from More Than Burnt Toast
Taryn from Have Kitchen Will Feed 
Susan from The Spice Garden
Heather from girlichef 
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Sue from The View from The Great Island
Barbara from Movable Feasts
Nancy from Picadillo
Kathleen from Bake Away With Me
Veronica from My Catholic Kitchen
Mireya of My Healthy Eating Habits
Claudia – Journey of an Italian Cook
Alyce – More Time at the Table
Amrita – Beetle’s Kitchen Escapades

For more recipes from this weekly celebration, check out my 50 Women Game Changers In Food Pinterest Board as well as our group’s collaborative Pinterest Board.

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  1. This recipe epitomizes what we think of good down-home Southern food.

  2. Such a great way to be introduced back into “solids”! This looks rich, comforting, and absolutely like good, down-home cooking. Yum!

  3. I love finding a chicken stew recipe – have saved this and it will be coming to my table this week. There is a lot of goodness in this dish. And it’s perfect for winter. Hope your son’s recovery speeds up. I remember the chipmunk cheeks with both my kids.

  4. Yum!. Comfort food!!!!
    Have the best weekend!


  5. Hi Jeanette,
    I hope your son is feeling better. Those teeth can be painful! The recipe looks delicious and I love learning about influential people. I will be trying the recipe and saving it for my own sons’ fun with their wisdom teeth :)
    Oh, please note the new blog URL..xxx

  6. At least your poor son is eating well through his recovery! I was excited to see this recipe, I’ve never made it and it’s such a classic Southern dish. I love finding new one-pot dinners, and it’s unusual to find a stew that features chicken. I am one of those few who adores lima beans, so this is on my list for sure, thanks Jeanette!

  7. Maybe your son is taking longer to recover because he’s being so lovingly pampered.
    And I love the mix of vegetables and that there is a lot of sauce.

  8. Looks like your son is on the mend! This looks delicious and so comforting.

  9. wow i can’t believe your son is still in recovery. poor kid. though i would be okay living on yogurt and pudding, i have a sweet tooth. you are super mom- making food that your entire family will enjoy! this chicken stew looks succulent and savory!

  10. Yum! This looks fabulous, I bookmarked it to make later. You picked a great recipe to share with us.

  11. Thanks for all your comments. Thankfully, my son if finally feeling so much better. At least now, I have a collection of soft food recipes to turn to if my other kids have to have their wisdom teeth pulled. I’ve been wanting to try making Brunswick Stew for a while, so this was the perfect excuse.

  12. Brunswick stew is one of my Southern favorites. Edna’s version of it sounds wonderful. I hope your son is fully recovered and can now enjoy some of his Mom’s more substantial dishes. The dishes you prepared for him, by the way, sound delicious. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  13. What a great stew! It truly is down home cooking … pairing it with the quinoa pilaf is such a great idea too! Way healthy! Great post, Jeanette and a wonderful tribute to Edna Lewis!

  14. I always love these posts and learning about unknown-to-me cookbook authors. I’m glad to hear your son is on the mend and I’m sure he was happy to be able to enjoy this hearty stew.

  15. That looks like a gorgeous stew, Jeanette!

  16. Glad that your son is feeling better now Jeanette!Love your recipe, packed with flavor and deliciousness :)

  17. Ugh, wisdom teeth removal can be such a bear! Some people come through it like it’s nothing and then others like your poor son (and me) have a very hard time. So sorry. Glad he’s on the uphill side of that experience.

    Now this Brunswick Stew … LOVE! I’ve always been a big, big fan of Brunswick Stew and this looks like perfection, Jeanette! I can actually “taste it” from looking at your photos. :-)

    Off to share! Hugs and happy weekend,

  18. This looks awesome!! Loved the droolworthy pictures. Bookmarked!

  19. It’s so sweet that your whole household stood in solidarity with your son on the food you guys ate :) This chicken stew looks amazing! This is something I would picture myself eating in a good southern restaurant and also making it in my kitchen. Great recipe choice!

  20. Your poor son – not fun at all. I’ve had my share of dental surgery these past few months, so I know how he feels. This meal would have made me very happy!

  21. What a nice looking stew. I’m always stewing red meat, but I need to get out of that rut. This seems like the perfect thing to try! I hope you’re son is feeling better soon.

  22. Love chicken stew, the lima beans, corn and tomato combo look great together. Lima bean is so under utilized glad you posted this recipe.

    • I agree Norma, lima beans get a bad rap. I haven’t eaten them in a long time and I don’t think I’ve ever served them to my kids before, so I’m glad everyone liked them.

  23. I discovered Edna Lewis’ books many years ago in a used book store, and became an instant fan of her style, grace and recipes. So glad she is being honored as a game changer in food.

  24. This looks perfect – might be my weekend project!

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