Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s enslaved cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine details the lives of plantation cooks, and uncovers the history behind some of our favorite traditional American foods. The author, Kelly Deetz, includes various recipes in her book among them is this recipe for Brunswick Stew. Brunswick Stew was an intense dish to prepare during this time period as it was a day long process. Deetz explains that the vegetables were provided by field laborers, the meat was slaughtered by the butcher who was also enslaved, and the stew itself, as well as the bread was prepared by the cook who often worked from sunup to well after sundown.
A shank of beef
A loaf of bread—square loaf
1 quart potatoes cooked and mashed
1 quart cooked butter-beans
1 quart raw corn
1-1⁄2 quart raw tomatoes peeled and chopped.
If served at two o’clock, put on the shank as for soup, at the earliest possible hour; then about twelve o’clock take the shank out of the soup and shred and cut all of the meat as ne as you can. Carefully taking out bone and gristle, and then return it to the soup-pot and add all of the vegetables; the bread and two slices of middling are an improvement to it. Season with salt and pepper to the taste; and when ready to serve, drop into the tureen two or three tablespoonfuls butter.
You can find this recipe and more in our book, Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s Enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine by Kelley Fanto Deetz.