Hopkins County Stew

Hopkins County Stew dates back to the late 1800s in Hopkins County, Texas. Since its origination, there have been many versions of it growing out of contests and cook offs. This stew was sometimes made in a large quantity to serve at reunions, church affairs, and the last day of school. Annie Crump Sloan of Pine Forest writes about this stew:
         The last day of school was a day of celebration. Plans were made in advance for
         what was needed for the occasion. Two men brought 55-gallon black iron
         wash-pots, bricks on which the wash-pots could be set, and sufficient wood to
          build a fire around the pots that would burn for 3 to 4 hours. Other men came
         with the ingredients for “Hopkins County Stew.” Those ingredients included
         several dressed hens, sacks of potatoes and onions, cans of tomatoes, and
         seasonings that women had in their kitchens. Both wash-pots were filled more
         than half full. By the time the “stew” was well cooked and ready to be served,
         the women, as well as the children, had gathered at the school with baskets of
         vegetables, salads, and desserts. They spread their tablecloths along the front
         porch of  the schoolhouse and made place for the food they had prepared. The
         “cooks” of the stew set 2-gallon buckets of the stew along the porch. Crackers
         at that time were packed in 3-pound boxes,  several which had been purchased
         for the meal. Now it was time to enjoy what lay before hungry neighbors. What
         a feast!¹
¹I Remember Pine Forest, Texas, by Glenna Hicks Vine (2005)

                                                                          Hopkins County Stew
                                     4 slices bacon, diced
                                     2 tablespoons butter
                                     3 ½ to 4 pounds stewing chicken, cut into pieces
                                     6 (or more) medium onions, chopped
                                     1 green pepper, chopped
                                     1½ cups chopped celery
                                     3 (1 pound) cans tomatoes
                                     2 (12 ounce) cans whole kernel corn
                                     3 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced
                                     1½ cups water
                                     1 tablespoon salt
                                     ¼ teaspoon paprika
                                     ¼ teaspoon curry powder
                                     ¼ teaspoon pepper

                                     Fry bacon in large kettle, add butter and chicken. Saute
                                     until well browned. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a
                                     boil and simmer. Cook covered. After one hour, remove
                                     chicken and bone it. Dice and return. Cook an additional
                                     three hours covered, stirring occasionally.

      If one has a hankering to make some Hopkins County Stew, why not make some good cornbread to go with it.

                                                                                 East Texas Cornbread
                                       1 cup Yellow corn meal
                                       ½ teaspoon Baking soda
                                       1/3 cup Flour
                                       1 Egg
                                       2 teaspoons Baking powder
                                       1 cup Buttermilk
                                       1 teaspoon salt
                                      4 tablespoons Bacon drippings

                                      Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 30 minutes. The skillet must be
                                      hot before batter is added. In large mixing bowl, beat buttermilk
                                      and egg, then sift in dry ingredients, Mix well. From hot skillet,
                                      pour l/2 grease and mix well. Pour batter into skillet with remaining
                                      grease. This makes a crisp crust, Bake at 400 degrees F for
                                      approximately 30 minutes, or until golden  brown.

           If you have decided to make the stew and cornbread, why not go on and make some good iced tea.

                                                                                East Texas Iced Tea
                                                                                        How to Make
                                                  Fill two quart saucepan with water. Since tea is about 97
                                                  percent water, use good water, like Sam’s. Bring water to
                                                  a good rolling boil. To make tea crystal clear, add a pinch
                                                  of baking soda to boiling water. Then add 3 family size 
                                                  tea bags. Immediately remove from heat. Cover and let
                                                  stand for 5 minutes. Put 1 1/2 cups sugar in a one gallon
                                                 pitcher. Pour tea water over sugar, stir until sugar is
                                                 dissolved. Finish filling pitcher with good cold water. Chill. 
                                                 Make ice cubes from good water also.

                                                                                         For goodness sake,
                                                                                         never ever squeeze
                                                                                         a tea bag! All this
                                                                                         does is release tannins
                                                                                         and makes the brew