I love to make edible holiday gifts. While most of us don't need another picture frame, candle or ornament, we can all use something yummy to eat! Giving someone a night off from cooking is my idea of a real present.
Obviously you want to make something that can easily be prepared in bulk. While I have in the past turned my kitchen into a lasagna factory, this year I decided to try something new: Brunswick Stew. It's tasty on a cold winter night, and all you really need is some cornbread to make it into a complete dinner.
My friend Suzanne's dad, Ed, is known to friends as Eddie Boo. His recipe is printed in Flavors of Home: Recipes from the West Gadsden Historical Society. There were a few more recipes I considered, but (a) I know Mr. Ed better, so I want to make his, and (b) the versions by Patsy Pitts and Mrs. Effie Clark both use measurements that confused me. What is1 1/2 quarts of potatoes or 1 quart of tomatoes? Fresh tomatoes or canned? I was searching for a pencil to figure out how many ounces would be in three pounds of cooked meat.
Plus Mr. Ed's recipe helpfully said it makes about four gallons, so I knew I'd get a lot for my trouble. Here's the recipe:
From the back yard of Ed Spooner
6 cups chicken, boiled, boned and shredded
6 cups smoked pork (Boston butt), smoked and shredded
2 cups roast beef or venison, boiled, boned and shredded
3 14 oz. cans minced tomatoes
3 14 oz. cans whole kernel corn
2 15 oz. cans mixed vegetables
2 11 oz. cans Mexi or Fiesta corn
2 cups potatoes, peeled, medium diced and boiled
1 large onion, medium diced
1 32 oz. bottle ketchup
1 8 oz. bottle Heinz 57 sauce
Hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together in large pot and simmer over low heat for 4 to 5 hours. Makes about 4 gallons.
My first problem was getting a big enough pot, but I finally ended up borrowing one from the church kitchen.
I started yesterday, but that really just included shopping for ingredients and containers. This seemed like a project made for Costco, so that's where I got the meat. I purchased a bulk package of 15 chicken thighs (dark meat always tastes better in recipes like this); two packages of smoked, shredded barbecue (2 pounds each); and a package of pot roast (doesn't say how much...thumbs down to you, Morton's of Omaha). The pot roast was the closest I could get to the prescribed cooked roast beef or venison. I actually had to scrape off the gravy on the pot roast, but I think it will be fine.
Yesterday I boiled the chicken thighs and refrigerated them overnight. Today I came home from church (with the pot!) and got started.
I boiled the potatoes separately while I was chopping up the meat and throwing everything else in the big pot.
And the beef...the package was also more than the two cups I needed, so I'm saving the extra to put into vegetable beef soup later this week.
Note that I chopped these, and the recipe said they should be shredded, but I was pretty sure 4-5 hours of cooking would turn everything to shreds anyway.
Here's the pot o' meat...
And here are the rest of the ingredients. What's not to like about a recipe that calls for a whole bottle of Heinz 57? You should really get yourself some of that and blast back to the '80s. (Note: follow the ingredient list, not the photo...long story. Someone has trouble doing math at the grocery store.)
I stirred it religiously for hours and made sure to scrape the bottom of the pot--all I needed was for this big ol' pot to scorch! I also went low and slow on the heat for that reason. I figured more time cooking was better than having to start all over.
Here's what it looked like when it cooked down. It tasted salty enough to me that I figured everyone could just add their own pepper and hot sauce.
I bottled it in quart sized glass jars (thank you, Food Lion -- apparently the "canning crowd" does not shop at Costco) and tied ribbon around the jar. It was so easy to make and such a hit that I think I may make some more!