Cherokee Tribal Food Distribution Program

Three Sisters Stew and Chestnut Bread

Three Sisters Stew and Chestnut Bread

Watson Harlan
This dish is a reflection of this, and is made with many traditional elements that can be assembled easily at home. The choice in corn is your to make, if you prefer hominy corn over kernel corn, it is your preference. Any type of bean will do, as well as your favorite flavor of squash. This iteration of the dish is made using ingredients you can commonly find, or acquire at a produce market, but find the version that works best for you. The broth can be something simple and flavorful, but to make it truly Native, redhorse broth, knottyhead broth, deerbone stock, or bear fat broth would be the best for flavor. Rock salt would have been available through the mining practices of the time, and red chili would also be available through trade, along with sage. Wild onion grass and garlic grass may also be used as a seasoning here should you prefer, but many people prefer simply to eat the onion raw alongside the stew.
Cuisine Cherokee


  • corn, hominy or kernel variety fresh
  • beans dried
  • squash
  • stock smoked redhorse or deer based preferred, dashi (bonito fish stock) or beef is an acceptable substitute
  • sage
  • salt
  • red pepper
  • wild onion or wild garlic garnish
  • flour corn fresh (old style) or unbolted white cornmeal (new style)
  • wood ash
  • chestnuts
  • corn blades, hickory leaves, cucumber tree leaves, or chestnut leaves
  • animal grease


Three Sisters Stew

  • In the stock of your choice, add beans and hominy corn and bring to boil until the beans and hominy become semi-soft. Add part of whatever seasoning you choose.
  • Add squash or pumpkin of your choice and cook until tender, and beans and hominy have finished cooking. Preferable, serve with the meat of the animal you used for your stock.
  • Serve hot with chestnut bread (see chestnut bread recipe).

Chestnut Bread, Old Style

  • Add fresh flour corn to a pot of boiling water by the fire. With a sieve or an oak basket, sift wood ashes into the corn as it boils. Stir occasionally. Boil until the mixture thickens to where it bubbles.
  • Once the corn is done, take the corn off the fire, and place the corn in a sieve or basket, and rinse with water.
  • Drain the corn until excess moisture is gone, ten eat the corn into meal with a Kanona, or a mortar.
  • To make the dumplings, chop your chestnuts into a small size. Next, with your still very warm meal, mix chestnuts in and shape into balls or flat cakes. Do NOT salt, as fresh meal will fall apart if salted. Wrap the dumplings in corn blades, hickory leaves, cucumber tree leaves, or chestnut leaves.
  • Cook the balls in a pot of plain unsalted water until they're cooked through and the chestnuts are soft. Serve with animal grease for traditional pairing.

Chestnut Bread, New Style

  • Using unbolted white cornmeal, sift the meal into your bowl. Add wood ash and mix until the mix has a bit of yellow coloring to it.
  • Boil water. Add some of the boiling water to your meal until the mixture is a thick enough consistency for dumplings.
  • Chop chestnuts into small pieces. Add to meal and shape into balls or flat cakes.
  • Wrap with leaves and boil until done.
Keyword beans, Bread, chestnut, corn, squash, Traditional

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