With the ongoing pandemic our routines have really changed. I limit my visits to grocery stores and try to get through as fast as possible. Although stores seemed to be stocked fairly well these days, there are still shortages. My shopping list is rarely completed and so I pick up what I can find. That makes my cooking a lot more adventurous. Here is my Friday night dinner that I called Brunswick Stew and Cornbread.
I had rummaged through pantry and refrigerator and picked the ingredients that “sorta” fit the recipe. Some substitutions may seem strange, like using mushrooms instead of Lima beans, but you gotta do what you gotta do. In my lists the ingredients are shown in the order of their “appearance in the pot”.
- 1 Ts (tablespoon) peanut oil
- 1 chicken breast (close to a pound)
- bacon pieces, equivalent to about 3 slices
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 6 garlic cloves (various sizes from pre-peeled package), sliced
- 2 small green peppers, diced
- 1 box white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
- 1 can cream of celery soup
- 1 12 oz pack of frozen corn
- 1/3 cup barbecue sauce
- 2 Ts Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ts (teaspoon) salt
- 1 ts Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning
- 1 cup vegetable broth
It is my custom to get all the ingredients collected together and to do most of the prep work ahead of the actual cooking. I started about two hours before dinner time – I’m not the fastest cook in the world.
Cleaning and chopping the mushrooms and green peppers takes me the longest, so I start with that.
My favorite for stews and such is our century-old dutch oven. I set it on the electric stove at medium heat. When hot I added the peanut oil and spread it out. Why peanut oil? I tell you more when I get to the cornbread.
I cut the chicken breast into four thick pieces and put them in the pot, letting them fry for about four minutes, then turned them over and cooked them another five minutes at low-medium heat. I learned a long time ago to use that approach. It puts a nice light brown on the chicken and the chicken does not stick to the pan after about three or four minutes of frying. I set the chicken aside.
Next I added the bacon that I had sliced into tiny pieces. Once the white had turned color I added the onion. I like to let my onions cook for about ten minutes before adding the garlic, green peppers and mushrooms. After another ten minutes the tomatoes, soup, and corn were added. During these twenty minutes of cooking, with an occasional stir, I shredded the chicken using a knife and fork.
The chicken went then back into the pot and I added the seasonings and broth. The stew then simmered on low for the next half hour or so.
- 1 ts peanut oil
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/4 cup peanut oil
- 1 1/4 cup skim milk
- a dollop (about 1/3 cup) sour cream
- 2 cups corn meal
On early shopping trips during the pandemic I had trouble finding flour, so I picked up packaged cornbread mix and a bag of Martha White self-rising Corn Meal Mix. The prepacked cornbread mix was acceptable but nothing to rave about.
The bag of corn meal has a recipe on the back which I followed with just a couple of changes. It calls for vegetable oil, one egg and butter milk (or milk). I had only skim milk on hand, but also had some sour cream. My eggs were on the small side so I used two.
The recipe on the bag asks for the oven to be set to 450F and a cast iron skillet to be preheated in the oven for five minutes. Then the teaspoon of oil is added to the pan and distributed so the bread won’t stick.
Now 450 degrees F is a pretty hot. For high temperature cooking I prefer peanut oil. Back in my working days building spacecraft, NASA prescribed peanut oil for the process of making circuit boards. Peanut oil can take rather high heat. I always figured what is good for spacecraft is good enough for my cooking. So I used peanut oil for my cornbread and also used it for frying the chicken.
I followed the recipe, whipping the eggs with a fork and adding the oil, milk and sour cream. Since I rarely use, and didn’t have, buttermilk, I substituted what I had, skim milk. I added the sour cream as that is a not uncommon way to substitute for buttermilk.
The extra egg and sour cream made the batter a bit thin so I added a couple spoons more corn meal mix. Baking for 20 minutes (at 450F) resulted in a beautiful cornbread.
The meal was delicious.
.:. © 2020 Ludwig Keck