BBQ Thursday: What Makes Good Stew?

The Grit Tree Contributors had a heated discussion the past few days about what constitutes traditional Brunswick Stew.

The great thing about stew, and any BBQ dish, is it all depends on your own preference. There is no right or wrong way to approach it (although putting mustard in your sauce is simply not right and it ain’t Christian). The thoughts fall in three camps: extremist on each end and a more moderate opinion.

I won’t name names, but there were three differing opinions. The general consensus was that corn, tomatoes, and onion are staple ingredients.

The first was Brunswick Stew can have whatever you want in it. Vegetables, peas, corn, potatoes-hell, even spaghetti noodles. As long as it isn’t too thick and served over rice like that unholy creation also known as hash, anything in your stew is fair game because it is all about a local touch. A stew is what you make it, and no right or wrong way, as each person has their own personal touch.

In the middle was the opinion that although vegetables were not a preference, it was acceptable and sometimes necessary to thicken the stew.

Then finally, the other end of the spectrum was the opinion that if you want vegetables, have vegetable soup or gumbo. Not to say the inclusion of peas, lima beans or potatoes isn’t tasty, and it will get eaten, but it is also judged and looked down upon.

So readers, what is your opinion? Are you an extremist or do you fall somewhere in the middle?

The Grit Tree


12 Responses to “BBQ Thursday: What Makes Good Stew?”

  1. 1 Dawg in Kentucky June 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Stew always has plenty of tomatoes and corn. The corn has to be ground up too. Vegetables ruin Brunswick Stew. If you want vegetables, go eat vegetable soup. As you can tell from the response, I tend toward the third option, though I do say that a lot of families / BBQ joints have their own recipes and to each their own. That being said, when I walk into a BBQ joint, I make sure to look around at other people’s meals to check out the stew before placing my order.

  2. 2 Macon Dawg June 20, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Not sure what has to be in stew but I know that whatever is in Fresh Air’s is perfect and if that is wrong then I don’t want to be right.

  3. 4 Cashman 76 June 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Smokehouse in oakwood is pretty strong

  4. 5 bigshotdawg June 20, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    The best stew in the state of GA is at the Butt Hut in Athens. BBQ house in Lithia Springs also has good stew. There is a company in Carrollton name Walker Foods that sells excellent stew also

  5. 6 Marie Let's Eat June 20, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    I have enjoyed many dozens of stew recipes over the last few years, and the only rule I have is that it shouldn’t have potatoes in it. It’s just a cheap extender that adds nothing to the mix but additional mass.

    Since the demise of Harold’s, I don’t know what the best stew in Georgia is anymore, but the Turn-Around in Tallapoosa is a favorite, as is Cabin Creek in Nicholson, and Smokin’ Po-Boys in Winder.

  6. 7 Tim (Watkinsville) June 21, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Chicken, the strained broth it was cooked in, tomatoes, corn, salt and pepper. Thats it. Grind everything and add it back to the strained broth. Use 2 to 3 times as much chicken as you think is reasonable. Cook it outside over hardwood coals, preferably under a pine tree. Cook it down until it can float a table spoon.
    If you want to add peas or anything else you are a damned communist or from Kentucky, where bergoo rules.

  7. 8 AthensHomerDawg June 21, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    The best stew has always been my Momma’s stew….. she has several secret ingredients and one was okra. Everyone that has tasted my Momma’s stew has demanded to be adopted. We now have to have a very big Christmas tree and it has created some confusion about who gets to sit where at the table.

  8. 11 noodles=dealbreaker June 23, 2013 at 1:06 am

    Stew has a tomato base, corn, potatoes, lima beans, plenty of spice, and lots of chopped or pulled pork butt. End of discussion. I know about the noodle stew that you speak of. It is an abomination and should not be in the discussion.

  9. 12 C.C. LESTERS August 2, 2013 at 2:48 am


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