History of Brunswick Stew
It all started back in 1828, on the banks of the Nottoway River in Brunswick County, Virginia, during a hunting party. Dr. Creed Haskins, a member of the House of Delegates from 1839 through 1841, took a group of his friends on a hunting expedition. While they were on the hunt, camp cook “Uncle” Jimmy Matthews stirred together the first impromptu mixture that has become known as Brunswick Stew. The original thick soup was made from squirrels, onions, and stale bread. When the hunters returned, there was reluctance to try the new mixture. However, the reluctance turned to demands for second and third helpings of the warm, thick stew.
Recipes for the stew have varied over the years. What began in Brunswick County, Virginia, has become a time-honored tradition. Cooking a very fine Brunswick Stew in Virginia has also become a source of pride among residents and has rewarded its citizens with many pots of this hardy stew.
Some have become Stew Masters, after learning to cook this wonderful stew from family members and friends. Chicken has replaced the squirrel in more modern cook pots, while vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and butterbeans have been added in varying portions. The one thing that all cooks or Stew Masters agree on is that the stew, which is so thick it almost resembles a palatable paste, is not done until the paddle stands up in the middle.