Mention either “food blog” or “Boef Bourguignon” to folks over the past couple of years and many would make reference to the movie Julie & Julia. It really is a sweet movie but don’t take the word of a food blogger, I am a little partial. This recipe isn’t inspired as much from the scenes in Julie & Julia where they swoon over the thick beef stew as it is from memories of the comfort my mom’s food gave to me as a kid.
On an early autumn Friday, almost 40 years ago, it was a big juicy hunk of stewing beef in Mom’s wonderful vegetable soup that I took a good long look at. My mind waged a battle between how good it tasted and how I didn’t want to contribute to the death of animals any longer. Four decades of incremental steps from that moment has now lead me to trying to replicate some of those meals Mom steadfastly prepared for us; all the flavor and love without personal guilt nor animal ingredients.
My Successful Seitan got me all in a wheat meat frame of mind, mid-January calls for a hearty winter stew. I looked up how others had tackled any vegan Boef Bourguignon. Most recipes I found started with store bought seitan like Gardien but a few mentioned preparing it themselves from the Veganomicon recipe, Simple Seitan (see Isa’s similar Homemade Seitan or Basic Seitan at An Unrefined Vegan).
I got to thinking about the difference between what the flavors of beef stewed in wine and even homemade seitan cooked the same way might end up being. I came to the conclusion that the Burgundy would have infused itself well into the beef during it’s long process of cooking while the seitan would have the flavors of whatever was in it’s simmering cooking broth. I decided to make my seitan by simmering it in a wine and broth combination (2 cups dry red vegan wine, 2 cups stock, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/4 cup soy sauce) to get that flavor well into the wheat meat. I also chose not to make the seitan in a turkey bag they way I made my Successful Seitan.
Upon removal from the simmering solution, my seitan turned out a bit purple on the exterior. This was because the only vegan wine I could find/afford was Sutter Home Cab Sauv. It really didn’t matter because when they were sauted they looked just fine and the taste was so well worth it!
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 cups of homemade seitan pieces (see above notes on wine simmering)
• 4 shallots, minced
• 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced crosswise into 1-inch pieces
• 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1/2 of a 750 mL bottle of vegan dry red wine (refer to Barnivore)
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
• 1 large bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 15 pearl onions, fresh or frozen, peeled
• 1 pound mixed mushrooms (quartered is traditional, I also included 1/4 C reconstituted Porcini)
• liquid smoke
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 4 tablespoons Earth Balance, divided
• Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add seitan and cook, stirring, until seitan is browned and caramelized on all sides. Reduce heat and add shallots, carrots, and garlic; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
2. Transfer seitan mixture to a large saucepan; add wine and enough stock to just cover seitan mixture. Add parsley, bay leaves, thyme, and pearl onions; cover and bring to a simmer until vegetables are tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer the seitan, carrots, and onions to a large serving bowl; set aside and keep warm. Make sure the bay leaf stays in the liquid.
3. In a large cast iron skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of the Earth Balance over medium heat and saute the mushrooms until they start to release some of their moisture. Add in about 3 drops of liquid smoke and stir another 3 – 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms with slotted spoon and add them into the warm bowl with the seitan and veggies.
4. In the same large skillet, add in and melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance. Add flour to saucepan, stirring until well combined and sauté for a minute so the flour gets cooked and doesn’t taste raw in the gravy. Pour in the wine sauce that the seitan and vegetables cooked in and let sauce simmer, uncovered, until it reaches a gravy-like consistency. Remove bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.