Friday, August 3, 2012

Beef Stew You Won't Believe Is Vegan

When my daughter was in the 10th grade, she tried out to be a cheerleader and made the team. You'd think there would be no parent involvement in having a cheerleader in the family, but guess again. The first call I got was from the cheer coach, informing me that the cheerleaders always gave a special dinner for parents and faculty and the cheer mothers were to do all the cooking. I was assigned a stew recipe and told in no uncertain terms that I was not to change a single ingredient as this particular recipe had been tried and improved over the years and was now at perfection. I was to double the recipe and show up with it in hand--along with my cheer daughter--at the school cafeteria at 4:30 on a particular afternoon. That would allow us time to prepare for the onslaught that was to descend within the hour.

I did as instructed, never even tasting the stew to be delivered. In fact, I was so busy with the serving, that by the time I got to eat, there was no stew left anywhere. I heard people talking about how wonderful the dinner had been so you'd better believe that by the next night I'd made what came to be called in our house "the recipe" for my own family. Over the years, I've passed this recipe on to untold people because once tasted, they always ask how to make it. I always tell them the same thing I was told: "It's perfect; don't change anything."

Once I became vegan, I wondered if I could replicate "the recipe" using my home made seitan. I experimented over time and finally came up with a stew so similar it's difficult to know it isn't the real thing. Since I promised you last week that I'd pass this treasure onto you, here it is. I made two tiny tweaks to give this stew the mouth feel of a meat dish. Other than that, I reiterate what I was told: Don't change a thing. It's perfect.


1 lb. seitan, cut into bite sized chunks (home made seitan is much more economical)
2 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 cup flour

Put the flour into a bag, dump in the seitan chunks and give it all a good shake.
In a deep pot, bring the olive oil to frying temperature
Brown the seitan until it resembles beef that's been lightly fried

Turn off the heat and add to the pot:

4 large carrots, cut into 3/4" pieces
4 large potatoes, cut into 3/4" pieces
1 large onion, sliced thin so it will nearly disintegrate into the gravy this recipe automatically produces
2 small bay leaves or 1 large one
1 garlic clove, minced

In a large measuring cup place:

1 1/2 cups of hot broth, vegetable or no-beef broth
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. Kitchen Bouquet (in the spice aisle and vegan; it adds a great beefy taste)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar
Big pinch of cloves (don't leave this out; it's what gives this stew it's extraordinary taste)
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of hearty red wine (I use Burgundy)

Stir the liquid to distribute everything evenly, then pour it over the seitan and vegetables. Cover the pot and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the vegetables are fork tender.

The seitan will puff up as the dish cooks. That is normal. It shrinks back quickly and gives the mouth-feel of eating read meat.

I serve only a side salad as the dish is a full protein/vegetable meal in itself. My hubby always liked bread so he could sop up the gravy.

Serves 4 and can easily be doubled.

Vegans are always messing with favorite recipes, trying to
change them into vegan deliciousness.


  1. I am a frequent visitor in your blogs, this post is very interesting and easy to read .... I hope to visit again

  2. Can't wait to try this! I've not yet tried cooking seitan, fingers crossed it goes well, thanks for the recipe!

  3. Thank you! I made this and it was great!

  4. i can't use alcohol, what would you use in place of wine?

  5. A nice fancy vinegar would work well. Maybe red wine vinegar?

  6. I would use balsamic vinegar instead of wine... it's sweeter than red wine vinegar. That's what I'm going to try tonight anyway.

  7. Do you use ground or whole cloves in your recipe?

  8. This recipe sounds fabulous! I was wondering if anyone has suggestions to make it gluten free? Unfortunately I cannot use seitan. Or would it be good if I just omit that part as I am not sure if even tempeh would work.

    1. Use gluten free v meat it works and this recipe is great

  9. Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian, just an FYI for those that don't know. There is a veggie alternative you can buy. Can't wait to try this recipe!

  10. Cannot find seitan anywhere at my grocery store. :-( They seem to have even gotten rid of the Morning star farms products. BOOOO! I'm going to try this without the seitan and see how it comes out.

    1. Whole foods sells it...but you might already know this 12 months later :). Also, I would skip seitan anyway, it's pure wheat gluten.

  11. Did this last night- WOW it was AWESOME! I did use Morningstar curmbles instead of the Seitan, and added tow stalks of celery. The family LOVED it! Thank you for sharing!

    1. When you used the crumbles did you coat and fry them or just throw them in?

  12. Just made this for dinner and it was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe! In a sourdough bread bowl, it's the best thing ever.

    Oh, if anyone can't find Kitchen Bouquet in the spice aisle, check in the soup & gravy aisle. That's where I finally found it.

  13. Update: We might be addicted to this stew. This will be my third time making it so far. Thank you again for sharing such a fantastic, consistent recipe.

  14. Tried this tonight. Not really a lot like the beef stew I remember as a child, but delicious nonetheless. I should probably note that I couldn't find Kitchen Bouquet, but used simulated beef bouillon instead.

  15. Apparently, my definition of a big pinch doesn't match your own. I think it has too much clove in it. You should update the recipe to be more accurate or better yet, it might be better without it.

  16. Amazing recipe I love it! I Sometime.use "beefless tips" and it makes the beat shepherds pie base i leave oit.potatoes and sub mushrooms then. Also made with yams and it was amazing too. The pinch of cloves is so needed!

  17. I don't have a pot to go in the oven. Do you think I could cook this on the stove top?

  18. I tried this today. The seitan was OK, but substituting mushrooms would do just as well. Otherwise, delicious. I will make it again.

  19. I made this stew and was delish! My market did not have seitan so I was at a bit of a loss. I made the stew without the seitan or boca or anything At the last minute I thought to throw a bunch of mushrooms in. Loved! Thanks for sharing.