It always amuses me slightly when people assume Vegetarian are shivering in the corner chewing on a raw carrot and somehow depriving themselves of home cooked food. That is so not the case and well proven with this exceptionally hearty and comforting version of a beef stew. In fact there is only one substitution, the beef, yet retains all the flavors of this traditional American dish.
Our substitute is a Seitan protein which is basically wheat gluten. It mimics the texture of beef and can be braised and browned just like beef. That brings us to an all time favorite, Beef stew.
It's Sunday, there's snow on the ground, and it's quite chilly out. I sip on a glass of Merlot while the aroma of this dish fills the house. Smells like Garlic, Potatoes, carrots. AMAZING. Definitely soup for the soul. It just happened that today I bought a new Enamel coated Cast Iron Dutch Oven so this was the perfect dish to cook in it. I found this recipe on another great blog here.
1 lb. seitan, cut into bite sized chunks (home made seitan is much more economical)
2 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 cup flour
Put the flour into a bag, dump in the seitan chunks and give it all a good shake.
In a deep pot, bring the olive oil to frying temperature
Brown the seitan until it resembles beef that's been lightly fried
Turn off the heat and add to the pot:
4 large carrots, cut into 3/4" pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 large onion, sliced thin so it will nearly disintegrate into the gravy this recipe automatically produces
2 small bay leaves or 1 large one
1 garlic clove, minced
In a large measuring cup place:
1 1/2 cups of hot broth, vegetable or no-beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Kitchen Bouquet (in the spice aisle and vegan; it adds a great beefy taste)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar
Big pinch of cloves (don't leave this out; it's what gives this stew it's extraordinary taste)
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of hearty red wine (I use Burgundy)
Stir the liquid to distribute everything evenly, then pour it over the seitan and vegetables. Cover the pot and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the vegetables are fork tender.