“Beef” stew (vegan)

The boys are generally being good sports about this vegan thing we’ve been trying. They’ve both figured out coping mechanisms. Avery has been getting supplements at lunch from his friends who take pity on him, and Alec just drives himself to buy something when he wants it.

I was honestly pretty excited tonight to try one of our favorite recipes, made vegan–Sunday Night beef stew by Pioneer Woman. It’s a winter staple. It’s hearty and easy, classic flavors.

It turned out great…the smell of a simmering pot filled the house all afternoon with anticipation and when the boys sat down there was honestly excitement. (I serve it over a giant portion of mashed potatoes and a good old bowl of carbs is always good bait for a teenage boy.)

So when we dug in, the reactions were nearly simultaneous: “This isn’t meat, is it?”

No. And then even I was laughing because there’s no way soy chunks improve by simmering. Quickly the nickname “feeb” stew caught on (beef backwards and perhaps a nod to feeble).

Lesson learned. I really liked this meatless beef tips product when we used it in broccoli stir fry last week, but I think it was greatly helped both by quick sauté and a spicy sauce. Cooking it for several hours made the texture akin to the “meatballs” in Spaghettios and the flavor was definitely not umami.

Everything else in the recipe turned out great–substituting olive oil for butter and vegetable stock for beef. I amped up the Worcestershire and added bay leaves to give the sauce more depth. That part of the recipe was a success. The carrots/turnips were great as usual too. Even the boys said so.

I’m going to keep tinkering with the right meat substitute, perhaps a tempeh or mushroom. The key to this vegan thing I think is to play with a food’s strengths, not to try to make something into what it’s clearly not. I’ve got some trust building to do for the feeb stew, can’t fool these hungry boys. 😉

10 thoughts on ““Beef” stew (vegan)

  1. Good efforts all round! Things are getting better all the time so far as substitutes go, and I must admit that if it’s fake meat I’m eating, I want it to taste just that, like meat. Playing to strengths is spot on as some things work better than other depending on the dish. I recently discovered some superb fake chicken pieces in one of the larger Chinese supermarkets, they do fake prawns and fish too, but I’m not bothered about eating that. Tofu tip – chop onto chunks, marinate in plain soya sauce for an hour or so, then dip in flour (sometimes I add chines 5 spice to the flour, or Thai seasoning, but any spice can go in there), then get your oil real hot and shallow fry turning regularly until lovely and crisp. It’s the crispy part that makes the whole thing work much better I find. We have dried soya chunks over here that you can also soak in soya sauce and water overnight, then it turns into ‘fake meat’ and it’s strong stuff so does fantastically in a good stew like the above. For me it’s the parents test, if they love it, it’s worked as I want it to for the palate of friends who still eat meat. The words I want to hear are “Is this meat?” But not because it’s clearly not, rather because they can’t believe it isn’t! Hahahaha. I’m a very good cook like you, which helps

    – Esme upon the Cloud waving away.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good advice! Yes more tinkering needed. If I had just seared the meat and then pulled it out, putting it back in at the very end that would have been better too. They’re good sports for trying, lots of kids wouldn’t even do that.

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      1. They really are. When i was a teenager all I ate was meat and potatoes really, and toast of course. *laughs*. I couldn’t bear vegetables, they tasted of nothing to me. It was only when I got into my twenties I realised that all the veg of my youth had been served to me boiled to death or tinned. Once I started going out with vegetarian, I started cooking food for him too and though I wouldn’t eat any of it myself for a long time, I was told it was delicious. I gave in eventually and tried some and was amazed to find out how great they could be. The rest is foody history for me. I’ll live longer for it by chance too as my innards weren’t digesting meat properly and I didn’t realise until I stopped. Variety is the key all round, and everything Mr Pink says below is spot on. You can make anything the star of the show, and it’s great fun expanding one’s palate.

        – Esme offering round sticky buns and some cracking green tea upon the Cloud

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  2. I was listening to Alain Passard the other day and he says the first thing people have to do is throw out the rule book, including the way we’re used to organising food on a plate. The classical thing was that there was a main character (the meat) and then minor supporting roles and extras. He gave the example of how in India they have a different mindset, they’ll take a cauliflower and decide that’s the “steak” and alongside there’ll be all sorts of accompaniments (of equally strong/spicy flavours.)
    He also said that a very interesting thing to use instead of meat is large mushrooms that are only added to whatever you’re making, literally, at the last minute, so they retain bite.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wise observations! “Failure” happens when we expect something. There’s no preconceived idea when it’s a new creation. I should try it just as root veg stew, adding parsnips and colored carrots. The turnips have always been my favorite part. Man I love turnips, they’re unexpected!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s the thing. He also said he’ll take an ingredient like that, turnip or asparagus or whatever and think, “what can I do with this? How can I make it into a star attraction?” Have you tried the whole roasted cauliflower thing yet? It works amazingly with a good sauce. Last week I tried with a strong poivre vert sauce and it was great.

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