Thursday, September 22, 2011

Abner and Irene's Stew Recipe

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Abner "Bear" and Irene Castellaw Mann in September 1961
The blog post on Haywood County stew a few weeks ago generated a lot of messages and emails. One of my favorites was from my cousin Sandra whose grandmother, Irene Castellaw Mann, was a sister of my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams.

You look at your kids and assume that their grandchildren will know each other but that isn't necessarily the case. Sandra and I only met because we are both interested in genealogy and share the same great grandparents, Bob and Zula Watridge Castellaw. Sandra was the cousin who helped get all the Castellaws together for the Castellaw reunion last year at Holly Grove Baptist Church in Haywood County, TN.

She remembers her grandparents, Abner and Irene Mann, making Haywood County stew in a huge black pot on a fire built in their backyard.

I really like the photo of her grandparents she sent me because they look like extras on the set of "The Andy Griffith Show."

Sandra's mother took the recipe they used back then and created one we city folk can use since it only uses one chicken instead of 18.
Haywood County Stew

12 ears corn - cut off cob and grind up (not young corn)
10-12 tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 large green pepper chopped
10 medium pods okra
2 medium white or red potatoes chopped
Salt, pepper, sugar to taste (enough sugar to reduce tomatoe acidity)
1 baking hen - cook til falls off bone - then pull meat from bone
3 lb. roast - cook til falls apart - then shred
(save all broth from meats)

Put onions, pepper, potatoes and okra in meat broth - start to cook - add shredded meat - then add tomatoes and corn. After this comes to a boil, stir constantly or it will stick. Turn down to medium heat and cook 45 minutes to an hour. If mixture becomes too thick, add hot water.
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Sonia Outlaw-Clark's family's stew
Another distant relative I recently met, Sonia, sent me an invite to her family's Haywood County stew where they actually still use squirrel meat. I couldn't go but she posted some photos on Facebook.

Sonia also does a great job as Director of West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Be sure and check it out the next time you are close to Exit 56 on I-40. As proof that Haywood County is a small town and everyone is related, Sonia's grandmother, Bernice Mann Outlaw was Abner Mann's older sister.

For more about the Castellaw family, visit their page on

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