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beefy seitan stew with herb dumplings

November 16, 2012

Serves 4
Cooking time 90 minutes

I’ve always had a soft spot for a good hearty stew with a sweet, thick red wine gravy and fluffy dumplings nestling on top.  Garlic fried seitan and mushrooms, added at the last minute, provide the requisite meaty bits.  Juniper berries aren’t essential but do bring a wintry zing.

After a long time blipping slowly away on the hob, the flavours of a stew can become a little mushy: a few last-minute add-ins, in this case nutritional yeast and Dijon mustard, transport the dish to a whole new dimension – don’t be tempted to miss them out!

Ingredients

For the stew:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cooking onions, chopped
2 carrots, cut into 0.5-1cm slices
1 stalk celery, finely sliced
1/2 swede, cut into 1-2cm dice
Fresh rosemary, 1 tsp chopped
Fresh thyme, 1 tsp chopped
2 bay leaves
Plain flour, 1 heaped tbsp
Vegan red wine, 200ml
Vegetable stock, 700ml
Yeast extract, 1 heaped tsp
Tomato puree, 1 heaped tbsp
10 juniper berries
Button mushrooms, 150g, halved
Seitan, 225g, cut into beefy chunks
Garlic, 3 cloves, crushed

For the dumplings:
Plain flour, 100g
Baking powder, 1 tsp
Vegetable suet, 50g
Salt, 1/2 tsp
Herbes de Provence, 1 tsp
Cold water, 90ml

To finish:
Flat leaf parsley, roughly torn
Nutritional yeast, 3 tbsp
Dijon mustard, 2 tsp
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by slowly frying your onions over a medium/low heat in 1tbsp of olive oil, giving the odd stir, for at least ten minutes until softened.  Then add the carrots, celery, swede, rosemary, thyme, bay and two cloves of garlic, season with salt and a decent pinch of pepper, and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the flour all over the veg, give the whole thing a good stir so the flour is evenly distributed, then leave to cook for 1-2mins to cook out the flour.

It’s time to add the liquids: wine, stock, tomato puree and a good dollop of Marmite or equivalent.  Add the juniper berries, bring to a boil and then let it simmer very slowly for an hour.

Make the dumplings: in a large-ish bowl combine the flour, baking powder, suet, salt and dried herbs.  Slowly add in the cold water, stirring with your hand at the same time, until you get a soft but workable dough.  Divide into eight and form into balls.

Taste the stew after 45 minutes or so – if the vegetables are fairly soft and you think it’s nearly ready, we can put the dumplings in.  Add more water if you think it needs it (remember, we’ll be adding seitan chunks and mushrooms at the end, so it needs to be on the wet side), then pop the dumplings in so they rest on top.  They will take about 20 minutes to expand and become fluffy.

In a separate frying pan, gently fry the garlic in the remaining tbsp of olive oil for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add the button mushrooms and fry for 5 minutes before adding the seitan pieces.  Fry for a further five minutes until everything is nicely browned and crispy.

Add the seitan and mushrooms to the stew in the last five minutes of cooking.  Then, when everything’s ready, take the stew off the heat and remove the dumplings to a warmed plate to make it easier to add the final seasonings to the stew: the nutritional yeast, Dijon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Be generous with the pepper, it’s a beefy stew after all.  Remove the bay leaves.

Let the stew rest for ten minutes, if you can bear to.  Serve with a couple of dumplings per person and some steamed greens on the side.

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