Stew cookers serve community

Published 10:48 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

A few times each year, Hubert Conner dusts off the old– and “sorta” secret – camp stew recipe and the community beats a path to the cook pot.

On Thursday, Jan. 29, Conner and company will prepare eight huge pots of the famous camp stew and, before the sun sets, all 500 quarts will be sold and most consumed.

The camp stew sale is a fundraiser for the Pike County Heart Association and will raise about $3,500 in the fight against heart disease and stroke, said Helion Motes, coordinator of the fundraiser.

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“Everybody loves Hubert’s camp stew, as it’s known,” Motes said.

“We call it the Hubert Conner camp stew but he denies credit for it. He said he got the recipe from William Lunsford but William said the recipe is not original with him and he doesn’t know where it came from. But, wherever it came from, it’s one of the best. Everybody says so. It’s the recipe we always use and we don’t change anything about it for fear of messing it up.”

Motes said only the best products are used and the ingredients are only those of traditional camp stew.

“We use chicken and pork but no beef,” Motes said.

“We use tomatoes, ketchup, potatoes and a little corn. It’s mainly meat and potatoes and people like that.”

Motes didn’t mention the “secret” ingredients that make the “Conner” camp stew so special.

She did mention, however, that the ingredients include 220 pounds of pork, 220 pounds of chicken and 220 pounds of potatoes so whatever the secret ingredients are, they must be more than a pinch or dab.

Conner is in charge of cooking the stew and he supervises the pots from start to finish.

But it actually takes a “village” to cook off the much anticipated and highly appreciated “stew.”

“The day before, between 15 and 20 of us ladies get together to peel and cube potatoes and cut up the meat,” Motes said. “Hubert wants the potatoes to be uniform in size so they will cook at the same time. While we are cubing the potatoes, the men are cooking the meat. Then we have to cut up the meat and put it in bags and in the refrigerator until the next day when the camp stew is cooked.”

Motes said it takes eight men to man the pots and stir the stew constantly until the potatoes are done.

“When the stew is done, we put it in containers but it’s so hot that we can’t put the tops on for a while,” Motes said. By afternoon, the camp stew is ready to be picked up. By around six o’clock most of the camp stew has been picked up and we’re ready to do home. It takes nearly two full days to from start to finish but it’s worth it because the money goes to help stamp out our country’s number one killer, heart disease.”

To order camp stew, call Motes at 566-3947 or Frances Conner at 566-1346.