Beef Provençal (Braised or slow-cooked)

US Beef Cuts

US Beef Cuts

By Cat, Aug 2015 (Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I was going to make beef stroganoff, but I’ve had it frequently this past year and I decided I needed to take a break so I wouldn’t tire of it. I decided to give this recipe a try. But I don’t want to make a whole roast; rather I’ll use the 2 chuck steaks (about 1 lb total) that I would have otherwise sliced thinly for stroganoff.

I love the idea of adding a tapenade to the sauce, for the wonderful Provenςal flavor it provides, is appealing.

See also: 1. Beef, Venison. Buffalo & Yak Menu2. Beef Pot Roast Braised with Herbes de Provence3. Tapenades; 4. Beef Stock or Broth

Beef Provençal

This recipe is adapted from Food Network recipe for Beef Provençal (1), and serves 4 – 6. The original recipe uses a beef chuck roast, but a bottom round roast could also be used. Or make a smaller recipe using chuck or round steaks (this may need less cooking time).

To test my adaptation, I used two chuck steaks. The result is delicious and reminds me of Swiss Steak, something I have not made in years. But I do have some questions about the original recipe (1). It starts with the slow cooker on HIGH for the majority of the cooking time, then changes to LOW for 1 – 2 hours. This is the reverse of how a slow cooker is normally used. For example, a recipe in Mable Hoffman’s Crockery Cookery for New England chuck roast cooks the meat and veggies on LOW for 5 – 7 hours, then HIGH for 15-20 minutes.

Since my test version had the veggies so overcooked that they became an indistinguishable part of the sauce, I wonder if the original recipe has a typo. Next time, I’ll start on LOW and then switch to HIGH at the end.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Prep:
  • ⅓ cup Olive-Caper Tapenade with Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 fennel bulb, white part trimmed and thinly sliced; add a few sprigs of leaves, if desired
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Beef:
  • 3 lb beef chuck roast
  • 2 tsp unrefined sea salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp lard, goose/duck fat or coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 cups beef stock or bone broth
  • 3 – 4 ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled,with their juice (or 14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp cognac or brandy, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • Finish:
  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • Hot buttered egg noodles, for serving
  • Equipment
  • Slow cooker
  • Medium bowl
  • Cast iron skillet
  • Egg whip or blender
  • Wooden spoon


  1. Prep: Prepare Olive-Caper Tapenade with Sun Dried Tomatoes
  2. Mince peeled garlic; sprinkle with ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt, and crush with blade of chef’s knife.
  3. Scrub carrots and cut into 2″ pieces. Wash, trim and slice fennel bulb crosswise to create thin crescents; halve and thinly slice onion. Place in medium bowl and toss with the crushed garlic. Set aside.
  4. Beef: Season roast generously with sea salt and pepper to taste. Heat skillet over medium-high heat; add fat and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add meat and brown meat on all sides to sear, turning as each side turns a deep mahogany color, about 10 minutes total.
  5. Meanwhile, mix flour and  1 ½ cup broth/stock with whisk or in blender, until smooth.
  6. Slow Cooker: Crush tomatoes with your fingers and place in slow cooker, along with their juices. Add 3 Tbsp cognac/brandy, Herbes de Provence, and 2 tsp unrefined sea salt.
  7. Transfer seared meat to slow cooker.
  8. Add remaining broth/stock to the skillet (still over medium-high heat). Let it bubble for a minute to moisten the juices and browned bits in the pan, then stir with wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits. Pour over meat in slow cooker. Scatter prepped veggies over and around the meat.
  9. Give flour mix another whisking or pulse of the blender, then pour over the meat.
  10. Cover cooker, set it on LOW High, and cook 4 hours undisturbed.
  11. Turn cooker to HIGH low and continue to cook until meat is very tender, up to 2 hours more.
  12. Meanwhile, chop parsley and grate orange zest
  13. Transfer meat to cutting board.
  14. Skim excess fat (if any) of the top of the sauce in the cooker.
  15. Finish: Stir  remaining cognac/brandy, tomato tapenade, parsley and orange zest into sauce and veggies in the slow cooker. Check seasoning and keep warm.
  16. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and stir in butter.
  17. Slice the meat and arrange down center of serving platter. If they can be separated from the sauce, arrange veggies around the meat and spoon some of the sauce over the top.
  18. Serve with the buttered noodles and pass remaining sauce.


8/15/15: For my first test, I used 2 chuck steaks (about 1.25 lb) instead of a 3 lb roast. I have some mushrooms to use up so will add those to the veggie mix. Used:

  • Tapenade: (to make 2 – 3 Tbsp); mixed in mortar
  • 2 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp capers, drained
  • 1 – 2 sun dried tomato (in oil), chopped fine and dried on paper towel
  • 1 clove garlic, minced and smashed with pinch of salt
  • ½ – 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • Veggies: 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ⅓ fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • ⅓ onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 – 5 ripe cherry tomatoes, with juices (remove peels when breaking up with fingers)
  • Beef: 2 chuck steaks, totalling 1⅓ lb
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lard
  •  2½ Tbsp chicken stock to deglaze pan
  • Sauce: 1 ½ Tbsp unbleached white flour in ½ cup chicken stock
  • 1  Tbsp cognac or brandy
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • Finish:
  • 1 ½ Tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ Tbsp brandy
  • finely grated zest of ½ orange

Made as instructed. Started the cooker at 11:30 AM; did not have fennel, so had to buy some after I started cooking the meat; at 3 PM I parboiled the fennel slices about 8 minutes, then added to the pot with a bit of the fennel leaves. At that time (3.5 hours of cooking), I checked the meat; it is beginning to be fork tender, so reduced heat to LOW. Off heat at 4:30 PM; total cooking time 5 hours. I don’t plan to eat for a couple hours, so will have to reheat. Served with buttered egg noodles, baby broccoli and half a beet. Result: The veggies in the sauce are cooked out so that they can not be distinguished one from another, but their combined flavor comes through – quite rich. However, it was impossible to separate the veggies from the sauce for the platter presentation described in the original recipe. The meat is extra tender. The tapenade is a nice addition; I served it on the side rather than adding to the sauce. Next time: Start the cooker on LOW for 4 hours, and then change to HIGH for 1 – 2 hours, so the veggies won’t be so overcooked.


  1. Food Network recipe:

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