Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brunswick Stew & a Cookbook Review - Mary Mac's Tea Room

Years ago, when my husband was my boyfriend, we went to Atlanta quite a bit. I had heard or read about Mary Mac's Tea Room and always wanted to eat there but never made it. So when I saw Mary Mac's Tea Room: 65 Years of Recipes from Atlanta's Favorite Dining Room at the library I picked it up.

Mary Mac's Tea Room opened in 1945 during a time when Southern women opened restaurants and called them tea rooms as it made the business sound more respectable. Mary Mac's is the last of sixteen tea rooms that were once in Atlanta. The restaurant and menu has remained largely unchanged and it is considered a landmark in Atlanta. I love the tradition of having a jar of pencils and order forms on each table for diners to write their own orders.

This cookbook is a primer on Southern specialities and is full of dishes that are unique to this part of the country. Fried Chicken, Country Ham with Redeye Gravy, Grilled Liver and Onions, Fried Okra, Peach Cobbler Fried Green Tomatoes, Collard Greens and Pot Likker are just a few of the 125 recipes included in this cookbook. It is evident that the current owner and author, John Ferrell has taken great pains to keep the spirit and the tradition of the food alive. Full of colorful photographs and antedotes on the history of the restaurant, the book is well organized and the recipes easy to follow.

The first dish I made was one that I have heard of but never tired. Brunswick Stew is a combination of pulled pork and chicken. I wasn't sure of the combination at first but was sold after taking a bite. I further simplified this already simple dish by using prepared barbequed pork from the grocery. Use of a rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken would make it even easier. Hearty and tasty, this will be a regular in our rotation of easy weeknight meals.
I also made the Country Fried Steak and Gravy. Cubed steaks are dredged in flour and then browned. A gravy is made from the pan drippings and onions and then the mixture is finished in the oven. This was pretty good, but not the type of country fried steak I am used to or was hoping for; however, I think this could be a really good, and still authentic, dish with a few additions.

This is a great cookbook for those interested in Southern cooking. You can buy it at Amazon where it is a bargain at a little of $10 or at Mary Mac's Tea Room.

Brunswick Stew
Mary Mac's Tea Room: 65 Years of Recipes from Atlanta's Favorite Dining Room, John Ferrell

Serves 4

2 cups finely chopped barbecued pulled pork
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
2 tablespoons salted butter (I used unsalted)
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
1 (5-ounce) can whole kernal can, drained (I used a 8-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Barbecue Sauce (I omitted since my pork was already sauced)

Combine the pork and chicken in a bowl; set aside. In a stockpot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat and saute the onions until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and corn; cook for 5 minutes. Add the pork and chicken; reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the salt, pepper, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and barbeque sauce to the pot. If the stew is too thick, add water to reach the desired consistency.
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