recipe: veggie winter stew

Stews are one of my favorite comfort foods. Pretty much any long cook, essentially one-pot meals are, which is why I make so many different kinds from whatever I happen to find in the store. I don’t mark up many stew recipes, which is a shame, unlike chili, soups and other related stuff. My mom made beef stews as a kid and I have a distinct memory of the hearty gravy being perfect to take the cubed potatoes and mash them into it making this slurry of goodness after picking through the melt-in-your-mouth beef and the veggies some of which were so tender and sweet it was divine.

Since I live with a vegetarian it’s really forced me into rethinking how to share my adoration with certain foods and keep to their core comforts for me while respecting the no-meat mantra. Much like my adaption of meat loaf, the basic stew recipe holds to a similar affect. Where I’d typically use a beef stock I’m substituting with homemade veggie stock that leans heavily on mushroom and tea (if you ever wondered what to do with mushroom stems, you clean and steep them and it makes a very warm stock reminiscent of beef, but that’s another post all together). The seitan acts as the meat substitute in this case because it holds up well to a longer cook time and really takes on the flavors. The veggies you choose can be based on personal preference and what’s available at your local grocer, which is another beauty of the stew concept itself – I like using brussel sprouts in a recipe like this, but since they weren’t available I left them out (they hit the skillet after the seitan, btw). You can do your mise en place all at the beginning but because of the length of a good cook time you can also do it in parts. This also uses two vessels because of the way I treat the ingreds.

Clean the porcini and shitakke mushrooms, remove the stems and cut into quarters (smaller as necessary)
In the stock pot add a little oil and butter and begin lightly saute the mushrooms till the lipids are absorbed and the mushrooms just begin to give off their own liquids
Pour the bottle of wine into the stock pot
With a microplane or small grater grate some garlic and ginger into the liquid
Add salt, fresh cracked pepper and bay leaves
Cover bring up to a low simmer for several hours

Dice the onion
In a cast iron skillet over medium to low heat with some salted melted butter begin to caramelize the onions
Once caramelized add to the stock pot
The wine should be reducing but still adequately cover the mushrooms
Cover and continue to simmer

Peel the carrots, parsnip and turnips
Cut into bit sized pieces, I usually do the carrots and parsnips along a bias
In a hot cast iron skillet lightly brown the carrots
Once they have some color and are slightly softened transfer to the stock pot
Repeat the process with the parsnip and finally with the turnips, transferring to the stock pot once browned and mix
With a microplane or small grater grate some garlic and ginger into the liquid
Add salt, fresh cracked pepper and the dried tarragon, sage and oregano
The wine should still be reducing but no longer cover the veggies
Add a few dashes of Balsamic Vinegar and some of the veggie stock until the veggies are covered
Cover and continue to simmer

Combine flour, cracked pepper and cayenne in a vessel
Rinse and then dry the seitan
Dredge the seitan in the four mixture and dust off the excess
In a hot cast iron skillet lightly brown the seitan, do it in batches as necessary
Once browned transfer to the stock pot and mix
Make sure there’s enough liquid to keep everything covered, add equal parts of wine and stock from this point forward to maintain the level as necessary
Cover and continue to simmer

In the cast iron skillet combine equal parts by weight of flour and butter to begin a roux
Your shade of roux will completely depend on your preference for how thick you want your gravy and how much time you have, a lighter roux takes less time and makes for a thicker gravy per part, while a darker roux thickens less per part but will add more depth of flavor (i always err on the side of a darker roux because browned butter and flour are genius)
Remember to NOT forget about your roux, this is the one part you can’t just ignore for a period of time during the process!
Once you have the roux to the shade you like add to the stock pot and mix thoroughly

Clean and cube the potatoes into bite sized pieces
Bring the pot to a full boil and mix well then reduce to a simmer
Add the tates to the stock pot once back to a simmer
Make sure there’s enough liquid to keep everything covered, add equal parts of wine and stock to cover
With a microplane or small grater grate some garlic and ginger again
Add additional Balsamic Vinegar, salt, fresh cracked pepper and the dried tarragon, sage and oregano as necessary
Add the fresh rosemary (can be stems and all; you’ll remove the extra at the same time as the bay leaves)
Cover and continue to simmer until the tates are fork tender (depending on the size can be 30-60 minutes)

Once the potatoes are about to the point where you want them taste and re-season as necessary
add the frozen peas
Cover and continue to simmer about 15 minutes or until the temperature completely evens out

At his point you can serve in bowls with a ladle the mad goodness you’ve just spend a day creating

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About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny: https://thedmouse.wordpress.com/about-thedmouse/
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