It’s Stew Season in Southside | New


The arrival of fall brings to mind favorite seasons – football, hunting and here at Southside – stew season.

Specifically, Brunswick stew.

This week in the Star-Tribune there are seven fundraising stew sale notices – so many that the newspaper has created a special space for them. Those craving a steaming bowl have no shortage of places to pick up a liter or two.

Sally Payne, of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, said cooler temperatures and harvest timing are what are kicking off the season for “country people”.

Wesley Chapel UMC makes “Wesley’s Famous Stew” every year, a mixture of butter beans, potatoes, tomatoes, roast beef and onions, Payne said.

“Our stew is a rich red,” she said of its color.

And it’s not really thick, she added.

Jimmy Scearce of the Chatham Rotary Club said their stew sale helps fund scholarships, donations to the Danville Rescue Team and fire departments, and to people who cannot afford their electricity bills.

Selling Brunswick stew, well, “that’s the way of the South.” Southerners love Brunswick stew,” Scearce said, adding that Rotary uses chicken, beef, tomatoes, potatoes, corn and butter beans.

The Laurel Volunteer Fire Department uses a recipe that dates back more than 25 years and uses fewer tomatoes and more chicken and beef, along with butter beans, corn, potatoes and onions, said Sharon Strader, adding that Wayne Howerton came up with a recipe and the ministry has used it ever since. What makes it special is the seasoning, Strader said.

Strader said the Laurel VFD relies on Brunswick stew because of its tradition.

Same for the American Legion.

“We’re in Danville and Brunswick Stew is part of that area,” Janet Roberson of American Legion Post 325 said.

However, squirrel is missing from most modern stew recipes.

The history of Brunswick stew in Virginia dates back to before the Civil War, according to Southern Living, which published an article earlier this year about the Commonwealth and Georgia’s claim that each is the source of the tasty dish. fall and winter.

Although there is no record of Brunswick stew in colonial Georgia, there are plenty in Virginia, according to Southern Living.

One of them includes this one in the “Alexandria Gazette”, published in September 1849 and found on Virginia Chronicle, available online via the Library of Virginia.

“But the pride and pride of the feast was a huge, heavy iron pot in which steamed with delicious fragrance a ‘Brunswick Stew’, a true South Side dish, consisting of squirrels, chickens, a little bacon, corn and tomatoes.”

The first mention of the stew in a Georgian newspaper was in 1871, according to Southern Living.

The ad featured a lunch special called “Old Virginia Brunswick Stew.”

Eventually, the Virginia General Assembly passed a resolution in 2002 affirming the state as the birthplace and capital of Brunswick Stew, making the fourth Wednesday in January Brunswick Stew Day at the Statehouse.

Meanwhile, in Pittsylvania County, stew time is in the fall and again in February, according to those who run regular sales.

Scearce said Rotary had already pre-sold 700 pints as of November 2 and the club planned to sell 900.

“We will sell them all,” he said.

Scearce said they cook the stew in four traditional 100-gallon cast iron pots, and the stew simmers over old tobacco barn burners. There will be 15-20 people on site preparing and cooking the stew.

“Everyone has a job to do,” Scearce said.

Payne said Wesley’s team starts at 4 a.m. and she doesn’t mind having multiple stew sales going on at the same time.

“A lot of people won’t buy more,” she said of the stew devotees.

Scearce also thinks people have their own favorite version and said there are former member’s kids who come all the way from Raleigh to get their stew.

Scearce said he just texted them, “It’s stew time.”

Payne said the church will make over 600 pints and the stew freezes well, so people can stock up.

“It’s really, really good for a cold winter night,” she said.

Strader said the Laurel VFD has a loyal customer who regularly stocks up with around 30 liters and freezes it.

“He says ours is the best,” she said, adding that the department will produce about 300 to 400 liters in the traditional 100-gallon cast iron pots.

A recent downside that has put a crimp in the mix is ​​the cost of beef and other ingredients this year, as inflation has gripped most food items, Scarce said.

“Beef prices are out of this world,” he said, adding that this has caused some groups to use only chicken.

The beef used by Rotary this year cost about $1,300, with chicken accounting for about half that cost, Scarce said.

It has put a strain on the club’s budget and he may have to cut purses due to the cost, he said.

Strader said the Laurel VFD had the same concern and feared it might not break even on sale due to inflation.

She estimates that the cost of ingredients has increased by several hundred dollars this year. To compensate, the department has added a dollar to the cost of a liter and the ladies will be baking cakes and pies to sell to try and offset the cost.

Roberson said the American Legion decided to maintain the same cost of its stew.

The Post will make less money, but everyone is struggling with inflation, so the decision was made to keep it at $7 a liter, Roberson said.

Despite the hard work — Laurel VFD cookers start at 1 a.m. — and the added cost, Strader said it was a chance for everyone to come together.

“There’s a lot of fun and camaraderie when you cook there,” she said.

For those who want to grab a liter or stock up for the winter, check out the stew section of this page.


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