Snow and freezing cold weather really got me in the mood for stew. This is strange, because I never actually liked stew during the very few years that I ate meat. The smell of the cooking beef always made me nauseous, but my grandmother used to make this on a weekly basis.
Whenever I try out a “classic” recipe like this, I always go to the source: Betty Crocker’s Original Cookbook.
Since vegan “meat” is usually pre-cooked, I couldn’t follow the recipe which calls for quickly browning the meat and allowing it to slowly cook with the potatoes and the rest of the stew for about two hours. If I had done that, the meat would have completely fallen apart and the potatoes would have disintegrated. I amended this by browning my vegan meat, preparing the stew, then adding it at the end of the recipe.
The results were perfection! My mom doesn’t even really like fake meat, but even she loved this. It freezes well, and like most soup and stew recipes, it’s better to make a big batch and freeze it so you have leftovers for those cold, dark, winter nights…
- 2 bags of Gardein Beefless Tips, defrosted (otherwise they are impossible to brown properly)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small bag of frozen pearl onions (I like the Trader Joe’s brand)
- 1 small bag of frozen peas
- 5-7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbs corn starch
- 2 bouillon cubes (I use Better than Bouillon paste or Edward & Sons cubes)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 -2 tbs paprika
- 3 tbs Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie’s brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into one-inch chunks on a diagonal
- 2 potatoes (I used Yukon Gold) cut into 1-inch cubes
1) Coat the bottom of a large stew or soup pot with olive oil. Season the beef cubes with salt and pepper and brown in small batches in olive oil over medium-high heat. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the meat will steam instead of getting nice and crispy. Allow each side the get crispy before turning it. Since these don’t give off any fat, you may need to add a little bit more oil to the pan. Steamed meat is leathery and gross – trust me, be patient with this first step. Remove the beef and set aside.
2) Boil the potatoes until they are just tender – do not overcook. Strain, and reserve 2 cups worth of the strained water in a large bowl. Add the bouillon cubes to the starchy water and allow to dissolve. Whisk in flour and corn starch until dissolved. Set aside
3) To the stew pot, add the onions, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Stir to de-glaze the pan and get all the trimmings off the bottom.
4) Add starch water to the pot with the tomato paste, ketchup, thyme, paprika, and bay leaf.
5) Add carrots, and cook until they become tender.
6) Add potatoes, frozen peas, and meat. Cover and allow to thicken on a very low heat – you may have to add more water as this thickens, especially for the carrots to cook. I let mine sit for about an hour while I was on the phone with a friend. It depends on how thick you like your stew – I prefer it a bit thicker.
Serve, and enjoy!