Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Irish Seitan and Guinness Stew With Champ...

The Irish have a long standing tradition of cooking meat in beer. Soups, stews, casseroles you name it, there are a whole slew of Irish recipes that use stout - typically Guinness - as a flavor enhancer. They’re certainly not the only culture to use beer as an ingredients in their dinner, however I think they make better use of it and get more creative with it then some. This particular recipe appealed to me because it was cold and rainy all day yesterday, which made me want something hearty, chewy, heavy and comforting. While this dish may not be one of those extremely clever uses of stout that I just mentioned it is super satisfying. Flavor wise it’s reminiscent of a more traditional beef stew but with a subtly sweet edge a slight acidic tang, and robust undertones of roasted barley and hops. There’s something really pleasing to my palate about this combination, and the smell of simmering beer made me feel ‘home-sick’ for Dublin. Don’t be surprised if as you’re cooking this stew you begin having daydreams of cobble stone streets, and rowdy overflowing pubs.

Now my version of this recipe differs a little from those that you might find in Ireland because rather then strain out the leeks, onion, carrot and celery after a long cooking time I leave the vegetables in. Traditional recipes also use bacon as a flavoring agent. I originally considered using  a vegan bacon substitute in this recipe to achieve the same effect, however I opted to use liquid smoke instead. It's cheap, fast, effective and imparts the perfect smoky-bacon flavor. Of course if you prefer you could use whatever vegan bacon you like, 4oz is the typical amount called for.

Lastly, Guinness - of course - is the recommended kind of stout to use for this dish, however since Guinness - like so many other types of beer and wine - is filtered through the bladders of fish it’s avoided by those who are vegan for animal-rights reasons. In that case any Irish stout will do, but if you’re a little less strict about it then Guinness works perfectly. The Irish say that Stout Beer and Beef are natural partners - which I suppose is why they’re paired so frequently in Irish cooking - but really, you don’t know the magic of stout until you’ve paired it with a good, chewy, home-made Seitan! Forget about beef, Seitan and Stout were meant to be together and I mean that.

Irish Seitan and Guinness Stew

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb Irish Style Seitan Chopped into cubes
1 Small Yellow Onion Roughly Chopped
1 Large Leek Sliced
3 Carrots Roughly Chopped
3 Stalks Celery Roughly chopped
6 Garlic Cloves Minced
1 1/4 C Water + 1 Vegan Beef Bouillon Cube
1 Bottle of Irish Stout Beer
1/4 C Earth Balance
8oz Cremini or Baby Bella Mushrooms Quartered
3 Large Shallots cut into quarters or sixths
1/4 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Celtic Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
2 tsp Liquid Smoke
Sliced Green Onions to serve (Optional)
Minced Fresh Parsley to Serve (Optional)

- Heat the oil in a pot over medium-high and add the carrot, celery, onion, and leek. Saute for five minutes until the vegetables are bright and just beginning to become tender.

- Add the minced garlic, the stock, the stout, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer gently over low heat for 20 minutes.

- Meanwhile melt the Earth Balance in a frying pan. Add the cubed seitan, quartered mushrooms, and chopped shallots. Saute over medium-high heat for 5-8 minutes until seitan is nice and brown and shallots and mushrooms are tender.

- After 20 minutes add the browned seitan, mushrooms, and shallots to the pot. Simmer for another 10 minutes.

- After 10 minutes add the flour and stir to combine. Simmer for five minutes to let thicken and then add the liquid smoke and simmer an additional five minutes.

- Remove from the heat and let rest for 10-15 minutes to let flavors mingle. Then serve in large bowls with a heaping scoop of Champ and garnish with Fresh parsley and green onions.

Typically and Irish Seitan and Guinness Stew would be paired with a hearty scoop of Mashed potatoes smothered in butter. However I decided to jazz things up a little and so rather then serve my stew with plain old mash, I decided to make Champ. Champ is a traditional dish that’s basically a glorified form of mashed potatoes. It’s a common side-dish in Ireland and is typically paired with stews, sausages or other grilled meats. It’s most associated with Northern Ireland but you can find it all over the country. What makes it different then a traditional dish of mashed potatoes is that the potatoes are mixed with fresh spring onions that have been simmered in milk, and often other fresh herbs are thrown into the mix for good measure. Chives, Parsley, and Basil are all common addition, and even green peas can be thrown into the mix. For my version of Champ I decided to keep it basic and traditional, after all it was going to be soaked and smothered in Seitan and Guinness stew anyway. Make sure each serving of champ is accompanied by a good dollop of non-dairy butter, as the traditional way of eating champ is to make a well in the center, fill it with butter, then dip your champ as you eat. Yum!


6 Medium Sized Russet Potatoes peeled and cubed
4 Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes peel left on and cubed
1 Bunch Green Onions
1 1/4 C Unsweetened Almond Milk
1 tsp Garlic Powder
½ Tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1/4-1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Earth Balance to serve
Fresh Minced Parsley to serve

- Fill medium sized pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat.

- Once boiling add the potatoes and cook until fork tender and soft. Once desired doneness has been reached drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.

- While potatoes are cooking simmer the green onions and the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes until onions are bright green and tender.

- Add the simmered milk and green onions to the potatoes, season with garlic, salt and pepper and then mash, or use an electric hand mixer to whip the potatoes into a creamy consistency.

- Serve alongside Seitan and Guinness Stew, and garnish each serving with a generous dollop of Earth Balance and a sprinkling of fresh minced Parsley.

1 comment: