Brunswick stew is comfort in a bowl, and my family can eat bowl after bowl. We like it with dark pumpernickel bread, cornbread or oyster crackers on top, and I prefer the bread, which we dunk in the broth and soak up the flavor. It’s an old Southern tradition that we like to keep, and it’s especially good to warm us up on cold winter nights.
Making Brunswick stew in the slow cooker is a no-brainer, but don’t just dump all the ingredients in the crock and turn it on. Browning the chicken and onions in the bacon drippings adds so much more flavor to the stew and is well worth the extra step. And as a side benefit, the wonderful aroma will last all day.
Prep Time includes overnight soaking for the dry navy beans.
Slow Cooker Brunswick Stew
- large bowl
- large skillet with wide, heavy bottom
- 6-quart slow cooker
- 16 ounces dry navy beans (soaked and drained)
- 4 strips thick-cut bacon
- 8 chicken thighs (with skin and bones)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 medium yellow onions (chopped)
- 2 pounds red potatoes (diced)
- 4 medium carrots (diced)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1½ quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- 2 cups corn kernels (fresh or thawed from frozen
- Tabasco sauce
- oyster crackers
- Fry the strips of bacon over medium-high heat just until golden brown. Set aside and drain off the bacon drippings, keeping 2 tablespoons. Chop the bacon.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper over all the chicken thighs, and sear them over medium-high heat until they are golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a plate. Drain off some of the drippings again, keeping 2 tablespoons. Sauté the onions in the drippings until golden, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Put the potatoes and carrots in the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay the bacon, onions, and chicken on top of the vegetables, and add the soaked navy beans, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper. Pour the chicken broth and tomatoes with the juice on top. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Remove the chicken pieces and pull the skin and meat off the bones, then shred the meat and return it to the slow cooker. Stir in the corn kernels and cook the stew for 1 more hour. Serve and stir in Tabasco as desired.
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