The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
I opted to make a variation on the first recipe given. I usually don’t eat meat, so this dish posed quite a challenge for me. I think there were three or four different kinds of meat in the recipe… I replaced all of the meat with shrimps and seitan, the broth with a vegetable/shrimp broth. Since this likely changed the flavour quite a bit, I’ve jokingly labelled my variation of the recipe (New) Brunswick Stew. Any Canadians reading this will get the New Brunswick/seafood reference… right? (I’m sure there is nothing specifically New Brunswick about it. I just wanted a cute title).
I started by making a broth, which I based on one I got from a Seafood Gumbo recipe I plan to try eventually. I also had to make some seitan, a vegetarian meat substitute made with wheat gluten (sorry, GF folks!). Both of these things added to the cooking time, since I had to make them from scratch.
Next, I fried up some chile peppers. I got some fun dried chiles called Chilhuacle Negro that have a medium heat (5/10). I’m pretty new to chiles, so I didn’t want to get any that were too hot. That said, I should have kept some of the seeds in for a little more heat. This was where the excitement starts – the smell of the peppers and the oil in the pan are heavenly!
Here is what the stew looked like in the early stages – the seitan is still in large chunks (to be sliced into thin strips in a later stage). While the broth started off looking quite red (from the chile peppers and the smoked paprika), it mellowed into a nice warm golden colour by the end.
Here is the final product, and the shot that everyone on Daring Cooks seems to be doing – the standing spoon shot. This came from the original recipe. To describe the texture of the finished stew, they said that Brunswick stew is not done properly “until the paddle stands up in the middle.”. Everyone has been doing their version of this shot, so I felt obliged to do the same. It was a hearty hearty stew, but the broth was not too thick and gloopy.
In the end, the stew turned out great! It was a bit of a challenge deciding what to use instead of meat, but I think the seitan worked wonderfully! This is definitely something I wouldn’t have known to seek out, and there’s no doubt I’ll be making this again.
Recipe after the jump.
I chose to replace the butterbeans with white kidney beans, and the celery with kale, just because I felt like it. I also cut the recipe to 1/3, since the original recipe serves 12!
I’ve included my modified recipe here, since it is a little different from the original. This could easily be made vegan, by using pure vegetable stock and no shrimp.
(New) Brunswick Stew
Serves about 4
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil or butter
- 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 Serrano, Thai or other dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened (I used Chilhuacle Negro)
- 1/3 lb shrimp
- 1/5 lb seitan (I used this recipe)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt for seasoning, plus extra to taste
- 4 cups broth (I used a mix of vegetable broth and shrimp stock – from shrimp stock recipe found here)
- 1 Bay leaves
- 1 bunch Kale
- .5 – 1lb Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
- 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups onion (appx 1 medium onion), chopped
- 1.5 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (I actually used frozen, because corn isn’t in season here right now)
- 1 cup white kidney beans (I actually used a whole can… it was great!)
- 1.5 cups canned, diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 c lemon juice
- Tabasco sauce to taste
- In the largest stockpot you have, heat oilive oil and with the pan on the burner, add in the paprika and chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove from pot and put into a bowl.
- Season the shrimp and the seitan with sea salt and pepper. Place the shrimp in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove from pot and put into a second bowl.
- Add more oil, if needed, and sear the gluten, then add to the bowl with the shrimp & chiles. Add to the bowl with the chillies.
- Add 2 cups of the broth to the pan and basically deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling good. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaf, kale, potatoes, seitan, chillies and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours.
- With a pair of tongs, remove the seitan to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Remove the bay leaf and chillies and discard.
- After you’ve allowed the seitan to cool enough to handle, try to shred it. If it won’t shred, cut into long, thin strips. Return the shredded seitan to the pot.
- Add in the carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
- Add in the onion, kidney beans, corn and tomatoes. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and kidney beans are tender. Add the shrimp back to the pot about 15-20 minutes into it, to complete cooking.
- Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.