Thursday, May 3, 2012

VEGAN BEEF STEW (with a GF note)

You wanted comfort food, I'm giving you comfort food.  What's better than a big pot of beef stew on a yucky, rainy day?

This recipe is a veganized and slightly tweaked version of my Aunt Barb's Gone-All-Day Stew.  I used to make it with venison and leave it in the oven or crock pot all day.  And, no disrespect to Aunt Barb, but I like this version better!  My family ate it up and one of my daycare girls said it was, "Yum Yummy Yummy."  Aunt Barb's version calls for mushrooms and no green beans.  I made mine with beans because that's what I had in the pantry.  I would have added mushrooms if I had some, but I didn't.  Basically, just add in the veggies that make YOU happy.  I used baby red potatoes and left the skins on because that's what I like. You can use whatever potatoes you prefer, peeled or not.

I wasn't sure about using the Gardein Homestyle Beefless Tips (I'm not overly impressed with too many of the meat substitutes) but I was pleasantly surprised how well they worked in this recipe.  Of course, you could leave them out and have veggie stew.  The Gardein added a little kick and definitely satisfied that meat texture and craving, though.

GF NOTE:  Please note that Gardein products are NOT Gluten-Free.  If you make this stew without it, use cornstarch or rice flour to thicken it instead of flour.  I would also add in a few extra veggies and bump up the seasoning a little more if not adding in the Gardein.  Season it to your tastes.  Sometimes a little bouillon is all it takes.

I would rank this recipe as a medium on the cooking difficulty scale, because it takes some work and a few extra steps and makes some dishes.  It also has a lot of ingredients for prep work.  I recommend making a huge batch and freezing it off in serving sizes.  Cook once, eat many times.  It is definitely worth the effort.

BEEF (BEEFLESS) STEW in Three Easy Steps

small amount of broth or oil to soften veggies
3 ribs celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. cooking wine (or your favorite wine--red or white--that isn't too sweet)
3 large carrots, cut into 1/2" chunks
2 pounds small red potatoes (or 4 large potatoes), cut into 1/2" chunks
1 can (or 1/2 pound fresh) green beans
8 c. veggie broth and/or water (I used 4 c. broth and 2 c. water to cut the sodium a bit)
1 T. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 t. freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)

In a large soup pot, soften the onions, celery and carrots in broth/oil, but do not brown.  Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove bay leaf.

2 bags Gardein Homestyle Beefless Tips (found with frozen foods), thawed
1/4 c. flour
3 T. olive oil

Coat thawed Beefless tips with flour and brown them in a small amount of olive oil (about 5 minutes).  Set aside.

1/4 c. flour
1 cup water

Mix flour and water in a small bowl until no lumps remain.  Bring stew to a low boil and slowly pour in the flour mixture while stirring.  Boil and stir for 2 minutes.  If not thick enough for your liking, repeat this process. Be sure to let the stew boil for at least 2 minutes each time to cook the flour before checking for proper thickness.  (If too thick, simply add in a little broth to thin it.)

Stir beefless tips into thickened stew and let warm about 5 minutes before serving. 

Serve with crusty French or Italian Bread and coleslaw or green salad on the side.

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