Monday, May 11, 2015



“Essential for Memorial Day & July 4 Celebrations.”

By Doc Lawrence

Stew Cooked in a Cast Iron Pot
STONE MOUNTAIN, GA- Truman Capote’s Aunt Sook in A Christmas Memory, announced “fruitcake weather” when the days got colder. It’s May and time to cook  Brunswick Stew. There’s an ongoing friendly debate over its origin. Both Virginia and Georgia claim it. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek Cookery said the recipe came from Germany. The late Jim Sanders, Georgia’s wine pioneer and a French trained chef, made a persuasive case for Georgia.

Sometimes recipes are kept secret. The most famous is the formula for Coca-Cola. The Masonic Lodge in Stone Mountain, Georgia has a barbecue each May and their stew, slow cooked pork and homemade desserts draw those who love the real thing. I asked the nice ladies serving it for the recipe. “Can’t tell you,” they replied with laughter. “It’s a secret.” Mayor Pat Wheeler confirmed that it was indeed protected and guessed that it has been used here “for at least 100 years.”

The Stone Mountain version is not only delicious but doesn’t separate and is easy to freeze and serve months later.
Monument for Brunswick Stew

There are many recipes for Brunswick Stew. I am the unofficial trustee of Jim Sanders' recipe, which he confided had been in his family since the Civil War. Here it is as Jim recorded it long ago.


1 four-pound baking chicken
4 pounds ground pork
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1-tablespoon chili powder
1-tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup red wine, preferably Rhone style
3 to 4 tablespoons bacon drippings 
36 ounces tomato juice
4-ounce tomato catsup
3 cups cut corn
Kosher salt and black pepper

Boil the chicken until it is very tender, cool, de-bone and chop the meat finely. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium heat, braise the pork until half done. Add half the chopped onions, one chopped garlic clove, chili powder, thyme, cayenne pepper and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and black pepper. Continue to braise until the meat is well browned, stirring every few minutes to break up any lumps and combine with chicken. Add the tomato juice and catsup and simmer for 11/2 hours. Add the rest of the chopped onions, another chopped garlic clove and simmer for another 30 minutes. Taste for salt and spoon off the fat before serving.

Beaujolais goes well with Brunswick stew. It does not fight the spices and it has a lot of refreshment value.

Over three decades, Jim Sanders taught thousands in his wine classes in Atlanta. Although a product of the Deep South, Jim was more French than anything. After World War II, where he was wounded five times in the Pacific campaigns, he went to France, bicycled the countryside and found his passion in wine and food. He learned to cook in Lyon and Paris and met Armand Cottin, president of Labourie-Roi and through this brotherly friendship, developed his own cuvee of 179 Burgundies garnering numerous awards. Each day, in the rear of his retail wine shop in Atlanta’s Buckhead, Sanders served most anyone who came in wonderful dishes he prepared along with pours from countless bottles of perfectly paired wines.

There was no charge.

This recipe works even better when it is shared with friends.


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