Bunkhouse Stew


I call this dish Bunkhouse Stew because it will feed a bunkhouse full of hungry hands.

It’s really a version of Brunswick Stew, a southern/southwest delicacy. Its origins go back to early frontier hunting. Those returning with game would throw their bounty in a large pot along with any available vegetables. I’ve seen photos with huge pots prepared for community gatherings.

There are many versions throughout Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Some are more soup than stew, others more stew than soup. I’ve taken parts of different recipes for my own version and always serve it at large family gatherings. It makes a great dish with Texas toast or hot loaves of bread.

A warning: I cook to taste rather than by recipe. In other words, I keep tasting until I find the right mix, especially with spices. I also always make a large recipe because I freeze what is left in individual portions and enjoy it all fall. For a smaller stew, you can halve the ingredients.

 Two packages of double chicken breasts and a package of chicken thighs/ or one whole chicken. Buy the kind with skin.

Two-third pound of ground chuck or ground round.

One-third pound of ground pork

One large onion (chopped)

Four ears of corn (shave kernels from cob. Better than canned corn).

Three large baked potatoes

Eight or nine large fresh tomatoes or four cans of stewed tomatoes. Optional: other vegetables such as lima beans and carrots

Spices: two tablespoons of garlic powder/Cajun seasoning to taste/a pinch of basil and oregano. I also use one jalapeno pepper (optional).

Chicken broth.

I use a large crock pot. Wash the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until meat is falling from bones and there’s several inches of broth. Debone the chicken while leaving the broth in pot. Cut the chicken in small pieces and replace in pot. While potatoes bake, brown ground beef, pork and onions with a little garlic and seasoning in frying pan and add to crock pot.

Add the tomatoes/stewed tomatoes, other vegetables, garlic, salt and pepper, basil, oregano and Cajun seasoning to taste. When potatoes are baked, cut them up and add to crock pot. Allow to simmer for several hours. Add chicken broth as needed.

If my company is coming early in the afternoon, I often cook the chicken the evening before and reserve both it and the broth in the fridge. I then heat both up in the crock pot in the morning before adding the other ingredients. I add chicken broth if the stew gets too thick.

To comment on Cheryl Pierson’s, recipe, click here.

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3 thoughts on “Bunkhouse Stew”

  1. I love a stew where you can make choices on what goes into it. I remember growing up, my Granny had a big pot in the frig and all leftovers were put in it (hopefully within reason LOL) and she made stew on Saturday. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Pat,
    This sounds really good–I would never have thought of baking the potatoes and using them! And I like the idea of shaving the corn off the cob–though I swore I’d never “do” corn again after having to put up corn every summer growing up. My aunt and mom would cut the kernels off and make creamed corn. We put up corn on the cob. A LOT of corn on the cob. And it was one of my jobs to shuck it and “silk” it. Bad as that was, it wasn’t nearly as bad as doing okra! Those little stickers…LOL
    Great recipe, and I am definitely going to try this–there is a bit of a nip in the air now overnight here–50’s.Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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