Simple Things – the Original Brunswick Stew Recipe (as far as I know)

When I was 15, we moved from Lexington, Ky to Atlanta, Ga.  (East Point, to be exact).  There used to be a chain of restaurants called Old Hickory House.  I don’t know if Brunswick Stew was their claim to fame, but it’s the most perfect food on the face of the earth, if you ask me.

Now, the restaurants don’t exist anymore, but the recipe lives on.  If you wanna read up on which states claim the recipe and who thinks it was first prepared in Brunswick, GA (vs Virginia), you can.  I  can list the link at the end of my recipe.  But back to my story:  I wanted to serve it to the local Ministerial Association Luncheon last year, so I searched and bribed and did a voodoo dance (just kidding) until I discovered the original recipe, or what I BELIEVE to be the original recipe.  I’m listing it for you here; if you think it’s wrong, don’t call me; just change it to suit yourself.

But I can guarantee that if you follow this recipe to the letter you will have the best one-dish meal that you will ever, ever eat.  And I’m not biased at all.  (What did we do to express ourselves before smiley faces and “lol’s”?)

GEORGIA  BRUNSWICK STEW
Yields 1 gallon   (I think it makes more but that’s what the recipe says)

FOR THE SAUCE:
In a 2 1/2 quart sauce pan, over low heat, melt:
1/4 lb of butter

ADD AND BLEND UNTIL SMOOTH:
3 1/2 cups Catsup
1/2 cup French’s Yellow Mustard
1/2 cup white vinegar

THEN ADD AND BLEND UNTIL SMOOTHER:
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons coarse grind black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 oz. Liquid Smoke
2 oz. Worcestershire sauce
2 oz. Crystal hot sauce or 1 oz. Tabasco
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

TO THIS MIXTURE ADD:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Stir constantly, increase heat to simmer (DO NOT BOIL) for approximately 10 minutes. Makes about 7 cups of sauce.  Set aside, or simmer on low if you wanna really make it good.  It really intensifies the flavor if you have oldies playing on the radio, Elvis is preferred.

THEN THE STEW:
In a 2 gallon pot, melt:
1/4 lb of butter  (don’t complain, this is the healthy version)

ADD TO THE POT:
3 cups small diced potatoes
1 cup small diced onion
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) chicken broth
1 lb baked chicken (white and dark) (I cheated and used a rotisserie chicken)
8 to 10 oz. smoked pork  (and here I used part of a honey-baked ham, only ’cause it was in the freezer waiting for me)
Bring to a rolling boil, stirring until potatoes are near done.

WHEN THAT MIXTURE IS PERFECT AND YOU’RE TIRED OF ELVIS,  CHANGE THE STATION AND ADD:
1 (8 1/2 oz.) can early peas
2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) stewed tomatoes (chop tomatoes, add liquid to the stew pot)
1/4 cup prepared sauce (from above recipe)
1 16 oz. can of baby lima beans
1/4 cup Liquid Smoke
1 (14 to 15 oz.) can creamed corn
Slow simmer for 2 hours.  (I know it says 2 hours, but I found that I burned it if I cooked it this long–judge for yourself, mine took about 45 minutes.  When it’s done, it’s done.  You just can’t tamper with perfection)…

The Old Hickory House served either a small cup or a  large bowl of Brunswick Stew, in addition to a plate with BBQ sandwich, baked potato and BBQ Beans, and Cole slaw, or if you’re smart, you just save all that room for the Stew.

The link to the recipe that I thought seemed most authentic to my memory is:  http://www.officialguide.com/gistew.html  Y’all enjoy.  Come on back when you’re full……yes, it freezes well, although I don’t know why you’d want to.  Bye for now.  Always remember Whose you are.

44 thoughts on “Simple Things – the Original Brunswick Stew Recipe (as far as I know)

  1. I wish I could tell you how excited I was to find this recipe. As a child, I used to visit my grandparents in Atlanta and we would frequently go to the Old Hickory House for supper. Brunswick Stew was always on the menu and we ordered it every time. Several months ago, I brought this recipe of Brunswick Stew to a friend who’s husband was very ill. She loved it and it felt so good to share with her and to bring her a little bit of comfort inside a bowl. There is no doubt that God uses food to bring His people together.

    • Thank you; I, too, grew up loving our visits to Old Hickory House. I found the recipe in an old copy of “the Grange” cookbook, but it called for squirrel, so I kept searching until I found this one. Hope you enjoy!! I served it most recently to a group of 30 or 40 pastors. One of them recognized it and said I must hail from Georgia–he was right! God bless you. ……Mary

  2. Thanks so much for the recipe–but Old Hickory House is still alive and well in Atlanta, and still has the best Brunswick Stew, and barbeque sauce.

  3. I lived in Charlotte NC for 21 yrs and “Old Hickory House” was a staple. I now live in San Diego Ca, but I go back to Charlotte several times a year to visit family and “Old Hickory House” is a must when I go back. It is still open and we hit it with a HUGE “to go” order, including a BIG container of STEW! OMGGGG, be still my heart!

    • Thanks so much for sharing the memory, Denise. It still amazes me how closely taste and smell are attached to memory and pleasure. That’s why I was so delighted to discover the recipe from the source! And thanks for reading. There’s more to come!

    • The Charlotte Old Hickory House and the Atlanta Old Hickory House chain are two totally different restaurants. I was all excited when I moved to Charlotte, but their Brunswick stew is as bad as everyone else’s in Charlotte. :(

      • I’m so sorry, Jim. But there’s also one in Jackson, Tennessee that’s great. But as a last resort, try the recipe. It’s simply the best. And thanks for stopping by.

      • I whole heartedly disagree with Jim Cofer. Though I’ve never had the Brunswick stew from an Old Hickory House in Atlanta, the stew from the restaurant in Charlotte is the best I have ever had. I’ve eaten dozens of different Brunswick stew recipes in my life, I’ve never found another that measures up. To each his own, I guess. I don’t believe the stew from the Charlotte Old Hickory House contains lima beans, potatoes, or rice (as I’ve seen in some varieties). The baked beans at the Charlotte restaurant are phenomenal too.

      • As it happens, there’s an unofficial “battle” over the origin of the stew and some of the ingredients that should be included. I’m sure your version is great, Mike, I was just stating what I think is the best dish I’ve ever tasted in my sheltered childhood…thanks for commenting!

  4. I live in Colorado and had my first taste of Brunswick stew. It was so different and so delicious!!, I had to take a quart home from the restaurant to my family. We all liked the sweet and the spicy taste of the stew. I can’t wait to try your recipe.
    Ande Mac

  5. Hi MAry, I just made this stew recipe. but I am wondering, did you really mean to have 1/4 cup of liquid smoke in the stew? also, after making the whole batch of “sauce”, i was surprised that it only needs 1/4 cups of it in the entire stew. seems like a waste to me. Is this all correct? thank you for the recipe!

    • Hi, Lydia, thank you for reading my posts. Using 1/4 cup of the liquid smoke is right because you have 9 cups or more of vegetables, etc. when you combine them all. Also, the instructions read “add prepared sauce”, so you’re supposed to add all of it. I’m sorry if I made a typo there. The link takes you to the original recipe; I was simply posting my “tweaks” to it. Here’s the link for you http://www.officialguide.com/gistew.html

      Recently I made a trip to Tennessee and discovered that Old Hickory House is still alive and well,…and DELICIOUS!!! Enjoy your stew, I’m making a couple of gallons to tide us over till Thanksgiving! Yum!

      His Blessed Kid,
      Mary

  6. Hi again, i just went to the link that you have posted and it calls for only half of the ingredients for the sauce. Is there a reason why you have doubled this recipe?

    • Boy, you’re good! I was making it originally for a group of 50 friends at church. Like I said in the post, the thickness and any other tweaks are up to you. (The sauce is a great one to keep around for other meats, anyway). Enjoy!

  7. Oh my goodness! Bless your heart!! I have been dreaming of this stew for over 40 years. Went to school at Atlanta College of Art 1970 – 1974 (High Museum). Getting to go to Old Hickory House was a real treat for a straving artist college girl! Was thinking on this cold Jan day in Alabama how I would love to taste that stew again. Can’t believe I found the recipe!! whoo hoo! God Bless and Happy New Year!!

    • Thanks, Judy. I attended Atlanta Christian College at the same time. But I recently learned, on a trip to Jackson, TN that Old Hickory House is still in existence…in fact there’s a restaurant right in Jackson. There also locations in Tucker, Ga., Dunwoody, Ga., and Charlotte, NC. Hope you enjoy it! I can’t get enough, even now.

  8. I go to the Tucker Old Hickory House every chance I get. They used to have locations all around Atlanta but now there are only two left: Tucker and Dunwoody.

    • I remember going to several down near College Park, East Point, down that way. Once we visited with our 5 kids, all little ones, and TWICE during the meal they leaned on the table (it was an old door that had been poorly attached to the legs) and sent the food flying. They were SO nice, and just cleaned us up and started us over again!! Best meal I’ve ever had. Thanks for reading.

  9. This looks good in the photo but I doubt it’s anywhere close to the original as they didn’t have liquid smoke….they smoked their meats in the smokehouse – usually in the back yard. They also didn’t have prepared things like catsup & mustard. I have an early 1900’s recipe (still not old enough to be the original) they cooked down tomatoes, vinegar & spices to get that rich broth…. Like I said this does look like it tastes good but I don’t think it’s smart to claim it’s the “original”….makes you look bad.

    • Goodness, Darla, I said “as far as I know”…give a gal a break! It came from the website that most Georgians take for the origin, http://www.officialguide.com/gistew.html. Have a peek and see what you think. Although if you’re from South Carolina, you’re not going to go for the Georgia version, I bet. Thanks for commenting.

  10. I knew the family that owned the one in East Point. Their last name was Black. Their girls went to Woodward Academy.

    • There are indeed some great families in Atlanta that know good food…my experience is from the 70’s, though, and up to March 1981…landmarks like Pittypat’s Porch, and CrossRoads, and of course The Varsity…ah, memories..

  11. I too being from right there in Atlanta Ga remember and LOVED the old Hickory House. I remember it burning down twice!!!!! Thank God the remodeled both times!!!!! They had great steaks and fries!!!!! But this Brunswick stew was to die for, I have looked up many recipes now as I’m older and none could taste like theirs, thank you for posting I’m going to make this, here people in Texas have never heard of our famous southern Brunswick stew!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thanks, Christie, yes, every time I’ve served it (in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and now Oklahoma) people seem to rave over it. I had a gentleman here in Oklahoma tell me he’d eaten it years ago in Atlanta and mine brought some great memories to his palette. Cheers to great old Southern dishes! Thanks for your comment…

  12. This sounds delish. However, why make SEVEN cups of sauce, when at the bottom it says to add only 1/4 Cup of it to the finished stew? Is this a mistake? Please advise! Thanks.

  13. I am also from Atlanta and grew up going to Old Hickory House, which is the ONLY restaurant that comes close to my Mom’s version. She taught me to cut the chicken and pork into pieces using cooking shears. I won’t even order Brunswick Stew anywhere else.

  14. FYI: there is only ONE Old Hickory House still open in Atlanta. It’s located at 2202 Northlake Pkwy, Tucker, GA!! The Dunwoody location closed in September! There’s nothing like The Old Hickory House!!!!

  15. The Old Hickory House in Dunwoody is now history. I guess Tucker is still open if anybody needs an OHH fix. The era of the great Jack Black is pretty well over. I grew up with the Buckhead Pharr Road location with occasional forays to the Northside Drive, the Piedmont Road, and Sandy springs locations.

    • We went to the one on Cleveland? Or Lee Street? somewhere in SW Atlanta. And occasionally down to College Park’s.

      Good memories, huh, Jim! I think I’ll be making some this weekend, Oklahoma’s finally getting “cold”.

  16. Sounds wonderful but I have a question. It says use 1/4 cup of the sause made above. Is that all the sause you use? What do you do with the rest? Thank you.

  17. I’m curious … was there not an Old Hickory House restaurant in Douglasville, GA at one time? And I loved their Brunswick Stew also!!

    • I’m not sure; we were in East Point when I visited the College Park location…and SE Atlanta’s. In the 70’s. But yes, the stew was awesome!! Il love making my own batches now. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Hey..I suppose everyone has their own recipe. I followed an old indian around for 20 years to learn his. and his sauce recipe. people drink my sauce out of the pitchers on the table..lmao.
      And I gotta say, his stew recipe is about a dozen notches above anyone else’s Ive ever tasted.
      No corn fillers, meat is already smoked before going in. Cooks all night in a washpot over hardwood coals

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