Lawmakers stir the pot on Brunswick Stew Day
Published 10:46 am Friday, January 26, 2018
by Katie Bashista
Capital News Service
Carroll Tucker stuck the long, wooden stirring paddle into the 85-gallon pot of stew. He let it go, and it didn’t move.
“Do you know what it means if the paddle can stand up by itself?” said Tucker, longtime friend of this year’s Brunswick stewmaster and member of the “stew crew.”
Senators, delegates and hungry residents lined up outside a tent on the Capitol grounds Wednesday to get a taste of this year’s stew. Legislators declared the fourth Wednesday of January Brunswick Stew Day nearly 20 years ago, and it’s the county’s most celebrated tradition.
“It’s been a cherished endeavor for many years,” said Tracy Clary, this year’s stewmaster. “The first Brunswick Stew was cooked in 1820 in Brunswick County right on the banks of the Nottoway River.”
Clary has lived his entire life in the county, which borders North Carolina, and has participated in the Taste of Brunswick Festival for years. Of the seven years he’s competed in the cook-off, he’s placed in the top four six times, winning for the first time in October.
The winning dish, which Clary served again Wednesday, is a chicken-based stew with pork, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, butter beans, corn and a seasoning consisting of just four ingredients — salt, sugar, black pepper and ground red pepper.
Clary and his crew cooked the mixture from midnight until the last spoonful of the 340 to 350 quarts of stew was served just before noon.
Shortly after, Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Del. Roslyn Tyler, who is from Brunswick, made their way to the tent just in time to get their fix.