I wasn't really feeling it until I came across a recipe for a Belgian Beer Stew. I don't know why this caught my eye, I don't drink and I've always thought of stew as a dish I've perfected. I read through the ingredients and was really intrigued to see that the dish contained gingerbread. Baked goods in a stew? Interesting. I read the description which recommended authentic Belgian mustard and gingerbread but gave the option to use whatever you could get your hands on. Cool. I read further and was told that there is no substitute for the Belgian beer used in this dish. In fact, it states that if I couldn't get hold of a sweet Belgian beer I shouldn't bother...
Well...I'm not having that. No one is telling me that alcohol is crucial in a recipe, especially if it's a recipe that has bloody cake in it. No. I don't believe it. So I came up with this, and believe it or not, I think I made a pretty good Belgian Beerless Stew here.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 2 packs of Fry's meaty strips (or sub with homemade seitan/portobello mushrooms)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp mixed herbs
- 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp yeast extract
- 2 slices of homemade vegan Peperkoek (I used this recipe, but substituted the egg for a flax egg and reduced baking time)
- worcester sauce
- brown sugar to taste
- salt and pepper
- First off, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions for 15 minutes or so, until they are soft, translucent and slightly caramelised.
- Add half the Fry's strips, the bay leaves and the mixed herbs. Pour in half of the vegetable stock and add the wholegrain mustard. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes.
- Stir the yeast extract into the rest of the stock and add to the stew, along with the rest of the fry's strips and a generous splash of worcester sauce. Crumble in the two slices of peperkoek and continue to cook through on a low heat until the cake begins to dissolve in the stew.
- Season with salt and pepper and taste. If you think it needs a little extra sweetness, add a little brown sugar before serving.
This was so sweet and good, I don't think it missed the beer at all. I think using red onion and cooking it right down gave it the sweetness the beer would have provided and the yeast extract really gives it that 'meaty' flavour. It felt a bit bizarre eating a stew with bits of gingerbread in, but it was surprisingly nice!
I originally only planned to use one pack of the Fry's strips, but when cooking the first box down they completely disintegrated into the sauce! I think next time I'll use a load of mushrooms and then just add one pack of faux beef at the end.