I always think of a Harvest Stew
There's just something about those tasty root veggies that stew together in a pot on low simmer. My hearty Harvest Stew makes it to my kitchen table and into our bellies every fall no fail.
You can't go wrong in stewing up a Harvest Stew because there are so many great fall veggies that go perfect together. My favorite vegetable combinations for a Harvest Stew are....
When I cook my Harvest Stew
When I cook my Harvest Stew I like to cut up all the vegetables in really LARGE chunks. If you really want your stew to be it's very best then you want to cook your stew for a few hours. Having large chunks is a must because if you were to dice your veggies really small then your stew would turn out to be mush. Cutting your vegetables in large chucks will save you from the mush problem. This is one of the main problems that beginner home cooks always seem to make.
When you stew veggies for a long time they begin to loose their size. A good example of this is when you slow boil potatoes. What was once square chunks of potatoes will slowly turn out smaller with rounded edges to them instead of square. This is what you want to happen. When the cuts of veggies start to shrink a bit then you know that your stew is starting to thicken. So you see cutting your veggies in really large chunks gives a natural thickening to the stew while at the same time it keeps the chunky look to your stew even after it has been cooking for a few hours.
What Type of Pot do I use?
I perfer to use a really large and deep cast iron pot. I like how cast iron seems to heat evenly and keeps everything at a equal heat. If you have ever experimented with cooking pots before then you will know that some pots will cook the food that's closer to the bottom of the pot first and leave the food that's on top needing to be stired to the bottom. I prefer to use cast iron myself and I don't know..... there's just something right about cooking a stew in a black iron pot that just seems right. hahaha! You know what? Why I think it even tastes better too!
I grew up on heavy cast iron pots.
Most of us will tend to lean toward what we grew up on and I have to say that I grew up watching my Mother cook many meals with a deep black cast iron skillet. Chicken never tasted so good either! Mother used her deep skillet for frying everything and I do mean everything. I was raised in the South so everything from fried catfish to frog legs to squirl was cooked in that skillet. Now that I'm a woman and not a child anymore..... giggle~ I drag out my heavy cast iron too.
But...... I have to tell ya, I don't cook squirl. No Way! I ate it growing up and it was good but now all I do is feed the squirls. Yep I buy the cute little things corn each month and just love watching them eat it. Back when I was young, Daddy did all the hunting and now that Daddy has passed away I can't bare to kill the little fellows myself. Gosh how did I get on the subject of squirls anyway? Lets get back to talking about Harvest Stew.
Gone-ta-pott Harvest Stew
- Meat - Harvest Stew can be made with several types of meat. I really like it made with kielbasa sausage myself. The picture above is taken when I made the stew by using sausage as the meat. In the South it's made with venison (deer meat) quite often. History tells us that this was the choice of meat at many Harvest Suppers in the Fall Season. In fact Harvest Stew was a mainstay in the fall time and what ever type of hard base veggie you had, is what went in the stew.
- Hard Base Vegetables - What are they? Any veggie that is harder to cut up than others is what I call a hard base vegetable. Take the rutabaga for example. That is one hard veggie to cut up but boy do I love the taste of it. I struggle forever getting it cut but once I do I'm oh so happy. Many people can't stand the taste of rutabaga. Even if you don't like rutabagas please try it large cubed in your stew. It helps the stew take on a wonderful flavor and you will love it I promise.
- Seasoning - Taste it, then Salt and pepper the stew reallllllly good. I also like to put a 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in mine but you don't have to. That's just a personal taste. If you like garlic then don't hesitate to add a clove or two. My goodiness everybody adds garlic to everything anyway. -You really don't have to season very much when you cook your stew with sausage. Sausage has so much flavor to it until it will perforate all the veggies with its spicy flavors. It will also give you plenty of oil/grease so don't add any extra to your stew. Now I love to use those dry soup packets in a lot of my cooking! I use the veggie one for this but I have made it with the dry onion soup mix also. Now you don't have to use it at all but if your a beginner at cooking then this is a easy way to get the seasoning right. Wink~
1 pack of sausage (kielbasa)
1 small butternut squash
1 large onion
3 large potatoes
3 large carrots
1 stick of butter
5 cups of water (may need to adjust) just make sure everything is completely covered with the water.
1 package of veggie soup mix (a great mix of seasonings)
You may also like to try adding
1 box of button mushrooms
1 can of tomatoes (only 1)
You can see them in the picture.
Now don't add things like green peas, or string beans, or any type of beans at all! That's what you put in soup and this aint soup this is Harvest Stew!
And.... don't add any stalks of celery either. That's fantastic in beef stew and other soups but not for this Harvest Stew. If you really like celery then I guess a few shakes of dry celery flakes would be ok but leave out the cubed up celery stalks. If you add it then name your stew something else. hahaha!
Thickening the Stew
Let Stew simmer for 3 hours. If you see that the gravy of the stew is not thick enough then simply make yourself up a small amount of rue. Rue is 1/2 butter and 1/2 flour that you mix together until it is a paste. Just spoon it in and stir. You wont need any more than a couple of tablespoons.
OK It's Ready!
Ladel it up and enjoy!
Now don't forget to cooky some really good cornbread to sop the gravy up with. Ohhhh you don't eat cornbread?!! Ok then, have it with some crusty bread.
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We hope you try our Gone-ta-pott Harvest Stew
and make it a part of your meals each and every Fall Season.