Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Beefless Stew

This was supposed to be a post about seitan au vin, but as I’ve been having issues with my homemade seitan and had to spend extra time fixing the recipe, Mike encouraged me to write up and post about the “beefless” stew that I made over the weekend.

We had a rare, completely rainy, sort-of chilly weekend this past weekend. I’m starting to crave cooler temperatures and comforting food, so I took this as an impetus to make a vegetarian version of beef stew.

(I’ll take this time to make an aside note – I really do generally dislike using processed food and rarely buy any, but I love Gardein products. I usually keep some in the freezer because they make it easy to make a healthy, protein-rich, and quick meal. And sometimes I really don’t feel like making homemade seitan or taking the time to press and bake tofu to the texture that we like. And no, I’m not being paid to talk about their products.)

All that said, I’ve used the Gardein Beefless Tips a few times in various dishes, but I don’t feel as if they’re as versatile as their “Chick’n Scallopini” product. However, I had the craving for a rich stew and crusty bread and knew that I could use the Beefless Tips well in that application.

I started off with the recipe developed by Tal Ronnen, Gardein’s chef, that was apparently showcased on Ellen’s show. It had a lot of basic elements that I would have put into a recipe like this, but I used it as a jumping point to make the recipe my own. When I cook, I probably never actually follow a recipe (which can be good or bad!) and the ingredient list and method is really never completely written until after I take the first bite at the table. That was absolutely the case with this stew.

I knew I wanted plenty of leftovers, so I immediately doubled the ingredient list except for the oil. I also added quartered cremini mushrooms, since I think they pair well with the deep, rich flavors that I was looking for. I kept the vegetables in larger, heartier pieces and ended up using much more flour as I and Mike both agreed the liquid was too thin. I did use pearl onions, and resigned myself to peeling fresh ones while the TV was on in the background. I’ve tried frozen ones and find them watery; I’ve tried the “fast” peel method I’ve read online, and that never really worked for me. I made sure to use waxy red potatoes, as they keep their shape when boiled.

As I’ve encountered sometimes, at the end the stew was missing “something” but I couldn’t place it; I couldn’t think of any other herbs or spices to try. In these cases, I have three things I try: salt, fat, or alcohol. I felt the salt level was fine, so I tried adding a little extra oil, then a little butter. Neither of those fixed it. Scanning the pantry, I finally remembered the bottles of marsala and sherry I keep for cooking, and took those down. A splash of each went into the pot, I stirred and let it cook a few more minutes, and that was it! And, as I hoped, the stew only got better after sitting in the fridge a couple days. I actually had a small bowl for breakfast today and it tasted great!

If you can’t find or don’t want to use the Gardein Beefless Tips, try seitan instead, or double the amount of mushrooms.

(As usual, brown dishes don’t tend to be the most photogenic.)

 

beefless stew

Beefless Stew

Serves: 8

Note: if the butter is substituted with an additional tablespoon of vegetable oil, this dish is vegan

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Olive or vegetable oil

2 packages of Gardein Beefless Tips

10 oz pearl onions, peeled

6 stalks of celery, sliced into 1 inch thick pieces

4 cloves of garlic, minced

4 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces

8 oz cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered

2 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetarian “beef” broth

2 cups dry red wine

6 small red potatoes, washed and quartered

1/4 cup marsala wine

1/4 cup sherry

1 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and add the Tips. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides or about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add onions and celery and sprinkle with salt. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, and rosemary. Cook for another 10 minutes. Slowly sprinkle in flour, stirring briskly to avoid clumps. Allow to cook for one minute. Slowly stir in broth and wine, then add potatoes. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer for 45 minutes. Add Beefless Tips back in and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in marsala, sherry, and butter; salt to taste.

If the stew is not as thick as you’d like, make a slurry of 1/4 cup cold water and 2 Tbsp flour and slowly pour into the pot. Bring the stew to a boil once more and reduce heat.

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