Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Little Luck of the Irish - Stew of course!

Tomorrow is the day of the Leprechaun. My mom's side of the family has a lot of Irish heritage that has tricked down to me. I have the love of potatoes, a reddish tint to my hair (not as much now that it is getting grey), an occasional flare up of Irish temper and a love for the celebratory adult beverage. Oddly, even when I did eat meat, I never cared for the corn beef and cabbage thing. So for me, Irish Stew is a far more delicious choice for St. Patty's day.

We live in a really fantastic neighborhood with incredible neighbors. Last night we invited some of our favorite neighbors over. They are decidedly not-vegetarian. Since I can remember, I ponder what I can make that will impress my dinner guests. It is even more fun when cooking vegan for non-vegan guests. I was going to go all Southwestern, then it hit me, St. Patty's Day is Monday. I decided to make my own version of Irish Stew for our al fresco dining experience. The stew was a success. The neighbors and Fred loved it.

I remembered that Guinness is not vegan, so I had Fred pick up some Killian's Irish Red, which is vegan according to Barnivore. The beer is key to a rich, deep flavor for the stew and it's pretty great for enhancing the cook's mood as well. There is some spirited debate about whether or not carrots should be in traditional Irish Stew. I opted to go carrot free and let the potatoes take the stage. Shoot I'm already bucking tradition making it without little lambs. Your belly and tastebuds will be feeling the Luck of the Irish as you sit down and dig in to this hearty and flavorful stew brimming with earthy portobellos, creamy potatoes and rich gravy.

Luck of the Irish Portobello Stew

Makes 6 Servings

1 1/4 cup Butler's Soy Curls
1 1/4 cup boiling water
3 tablespoons olive oil, separated
4 large portobello mushrooms, fins removed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed and minced
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 bottle Killian's Irish Red beer (or other red lager)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
2 pounds unpeeled red potatoes, 3/4 inch dice
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pour the boiling water over Soy Curls and let re-hydrate for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess water out of Soy Curls.

In a 6 quart dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add Soy Curls. Sauté until they are nicely browned stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add another tablespoon of the olive oil, portobello mushrooms and onions. Sauté until mushrooms release there liquid and onions are soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, parsley and pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Turn heat to low and add last tablespoon of olive oil and flour, stirring to combine. Cook for about 10 more minutes to red the flour of the starchy flavor. Turn heat back up to medium high. Add beer to deglaze pan. Make sure to scrape the yummy bits that may have gotten stuck on the bottom of the pot. Add tomato paste and stir until it is dissolved. Add vegetable broth, kitchen bouquet and potatoes. When mixture starts to bubble, turn heat to low. Let simmer covered for an hour. Uncover and let simmer for another 1/2 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into bowls. You can sprinkle with roughly chopped fresh parsley as a garnish if you like. Serve with Irish Soda bread or any rustic chewy bread.

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