Irish “Steak” and Stout Stew
Despite my red hair and unwavering love of Ireland, I’m not actually Irish. Well, we think there may have been some Celtic blood in there somewhere, and all our Irish friends tell me that I look so Irish that has to be the case. Plus, being raised right outside Chicago and then living in the city, I think everyone is honorary Irish on St. Paddy’s. They dye the river green, for God’s sake!
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Ireland a couple times – both the North and South – and Ryan and I were actually trying to find a way to move there for a while. Some of our favorite people in the world live there, and if you’ve never been, you can’t imagine how beautiful it is. I’d never seen green in my life until I went to Ireland. I swear that the grass and trees glow electric green. But it does take a lot of rain to get that way, which I’m all too familiar with after living over in neighboring London for 9 months while in college.
I feel like Irish and English food can get a bad rap, but that’s a pretty outdated take on things. I don’t know how traditional this stew is, but it’s amazingly tasty. It reminds me of the beef stew that my mom used to make, and that I can’t even remember the last time I had. Red meat was one of the first things I gave up, long before even becoming vegetarian, and I very rarely make faux steak dishes. But I will definitely make this stew again. Ryan tasted it and said, “This is one of the tastiest things you’ve ever made, and you can quote me on that!”
I started with this recipe, but made some changes to both the ingredients and technique, which you can see in my version below. It’s a little bit of work, and a little bit fussy, but so worth it! And I have to give a big thank you to Ryan’s Aunt Margie and Uncle John for the beautiful plates they gave us for Christmas – we’ve been saving them especially for St. Patrick’s day!
Irish “Steak” and Stout Stew
Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 pkg. veggie bacon, chopped (try Lightlife brand)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 lb. vegan steak strips, thawed and chopped (I used two bags of gardein’s beefless tips)
6 Tbsp. vegan margarine
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large carrot, chopped
1 1/4 cups dark beer
1/4 – 1/2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup frozen peas
Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil, and the tempeh “bacon” strips. (You may have to do this in two batches to not crowd the pan, and the second batch might need a bit more oil). Cook until they’re browned and crisp, and remove them to a paper-towel covered plate. Once they cool a bit, chop them into small pieces and set aside.
Add a tablespoon or so of margarine to the pan to melt. (You can also use olive oil, if you’d prefer). In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce and the “steak”, and toss to coat. Toss the “steak” in the flour mixture, and add to the hot pan. Sear the “steak” pieces until they’re golden and the flour is no longer visibly white. Remove them to the paper towel-lined plate you used for the bacon. (I did these in three or four batches – again you don’t want to crowd the pan. Don’t worry if some of the pieces might stick to the pan; you actually want that because it adds more flavor.)
Once you finish cooking the “steak”, add another tablespoon of margarine to the pot. Add the onion and cook until softened, scraping up all the bits of “steak” that stuck to the pan. You can add a splash of veggie broth to help deglaze the bottom. Once the onion is soft, add the carrots. Sauté them together for about five minutes or so, until the onion is golden. Add the garlic, and sauté for about a minute, or until fragrant.
Add the stout to the onion mixture and scrape up any bits still stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the “steak” and “bacon”, and about a 1/4 cup of veggie broth. Stir and cook for 5 minutes, until thick. Add the peas, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for a few minutes to heat the peas through. If the stew is too thick, add more beer or vegetable stock. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Notes: Rather than making a pie (I don’t have a deep dish pie plate), I decided to make the stew on its own and served it up in puff pastry shells. You could also just serve it on its own, with some crusty bread. I found that I didn’t need to add any additional salt. If you prefer softer carrots you could steam them for a few minutes before adding them to the pot, or simmer the stew longer. Enjoy, and have a great St. Patrick’s Day!