Today's post was actually yesterday's post until I mentioned that my sister-n-law shared her recipe with me back in January at which point a profusion of thoughts and memories of events surrounding that month suddenly whirled around my brain and flowed out onto the paper, or technically speaking, the monitor. I felt I should write about them instead as I'd recently taken a 5 month or so hiatus from blogging. So, I nixed the stew. I did promise to share it today though, so here it is!
I took the liberty of naming it "Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew" for and after my sister-n-law who made it for some of my kids and hers one night in January when we'd gone over for a visit. She was busy chopping up all these veggies, throwing them into a big stock pot of yumminess and when I asked about it she just said she chops a bunch of this, a handful or two of that, a can of that, some of this, etc. etc. That's my kind of cooking but of course it can be difficult to tell someone else how it's made. I do believe I've got it down though and it will be easy for you to make yourself. I've made it three times since January including day before yesterday. It's been referred to as the bomb diggity every time.
Ultimately, I would say this is more of a wonderful stew for cold, damp Fall and Winter nights, but we've had much cooler than usual temperatures here in OK so it's been great to have on chilly, rainy evenings. I've made it twice in the past few weeks.
This is chock full of veggies and if you want to omit the beef then you've got a 100% Vegan stew...maybe throw in some beans for protein. My son, Ethan, is dating a girl who's a strict Vegan and we're hoping to have a big Vegan meal one night. I will make this for Gloria. I think she'll love it as much as we do. In fact, my kids and Shawn all say they'd love it without the meat as well...and we're pretty carnivorous around here so that's a big deal at our house.
Now, my daughter, Kalyn, is turning into quite the cook herself and she has made this stew for her boyfriend's family on at least two occasions that I know of. The first time she was going to make it she called me from the grocery store and and asked what the spice was that Aunt Monica put in her stew. I told her it was Herbs De Provence or something like that (I couldn't myself remember exactly the name of it at the time). I told Kalyn it was a blend of several spices. She said, "Oh, ok I see it". I told her to bring me some and I'll split the bottle with her so I can make it as well.
I asked Kalyn to call me the next day to let me know how it turned out. Was it as good as Aunt Monica's? So she calls the next day and tells me it was off. She wasn't sure what it was but it just had a different flavor. She said it was good but not great, like what Monica had made. We went over all the veggies we remembered Monica putting in hers and kind of mentally checked them off the list. I said something like, "well, I think Monica probably gets the best brand of seasonings, so maybe that was why yours tasted a little off".
Kalyn came over within the next few days and brought me the remainder of her spice she'd used in the stew so that I could make it and see how it turned out. She gave me the bottle of spices and I said, "Oh, I'm pretty sure I know what happened with your stew, KK".
Here's what she gave me! Whoopsie daisy!
I couldn't help but to laugh out loud. This is a Roberts' classic mistake. My husband, Shawn, still gets teased to this day about using salt in place of sugar in a cookie recipe when he was a kid. He had so much pride that he ate every single cookie and acted like they tasted good. Oh, I am laughing out loud thinking about it because I can just see him doing that!
So I know that we are all on the same page here, let's go over what Herbs De Provence contains. Herbs De Provence is a blend of Lavender, Marjoram, Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary, Basil, Fennel, Parsley and Fennel. Here is the bottle I bought, at Walmart. No fancy brand, just the organic version.
And now, without further adieu, I share with you
Monica's Herbs De Provence Vegetable Beef Stew
1 1/2 - 2 TBLSP Herbs De Provence
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1-2 lbs stew meat (leave it out if you want to do Vegan)
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2-3 14-15 oz cans Vegetable stock or broth (I used both) (use 3 cans for a soupier consistency, 2 for a thicker consistency...I've made it both ways and taste is the same)
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
3-4 red or russett potatoes, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 bag carrots, peeled and cut into bite size pieces
1 lb mushrooms, rinsed and cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange...I always make a big batch so I use 1 red and 1 orange or yellow), seeded and cut into pieces
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
2 or so big handfuls of kale, chopped
Drizzle some olive oil in a stock pot and heat. Dredge your stew meat in flour with a little salt and pepper. Throw it in the pot with olive oil and let it brown.
As the beef begins to brown, toss in the onions. Cook for 5 or so minutes and throw in the carrots. I like to add these first as they take longer to tenderize but in all honesty, I don't think it matters all that much! You can probably just throw it all in and ''fahget about it''...just don't let your stew scorch! Next add the broth and remaining vegetables and bring to a boil and allow to boil until potatoes are close to tender. Add a little more salt and pepper, the crushed tomatoes and the Herbs De Provence, not All Spice.
Your pot will be boasting with color and a wonderful smell will waft through your kitchen and home as this stews. You'll want to turn the heat down and simmer for an hour or so until the meat is completely tender...fall apart in your mouth tender. I noticed Monica boiled her soup so I actually did that to. Everything cooks down and marries beautifully.
The kale will turn very dark green and the mushrooms almost disappear as they cook, but it all blends harmoniously.
I've served it with several breads including a crusty French baguette, roasted garlic Ciabatta, sourdough and garlic butter on herb bread. They are all fabulous but I think my favorite are the garlic breads. If you're in the Tulsa area and have Reasor's they've got some nice artisanal breads, one of which is 'Roasted Garlic Ciabatta' and it's out of this world good! It compliments the flavors so well. Plus, Trevor is a supervisor there as he's working his way through college.
Here are couple of alternative suggestions for the stew. I'm sure you will come up with some of your own as well. Please post a comment if you do as I'd love to know how you make it your own and share your take on other versions!
1) The first times I made this I made it more soupier than these photos show. This time (in the picture below and first on this post) I used more veggies and meat which made it thick.
2)We've decided in our house that we will mix this up by serving it over some kind of pasta (maybe Penne) with a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan on top.
3) Monica told me that she has used Beef broth in lieu of the Vegetable broth so that's something to consider if you want a beefier flavor. I'm sure it's wonderful.
4) I think it would probably be good with chicken vs. beef
5) Substitute lentils for the meat and you've got a Vegan meal
Give it a try! I know you'll love it!