BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Unfussy French Food

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Hunkering down, deep within the thick folds of a well-worn comforter that has served its time for over a decade of hard winters, even that soft fortress can’t block out all of the invading icy air. Slipping in through the cracks, falling like the snow itself and covering everything in an invisible weight, there are few ways to fight off this attack. Drawn to warmth like a moth to light, inevitably, I find myself standing in the kitchen, blankets cast aside, in search of something to thaw me from within.

I know, I know, yet another post about being cold! I promise I’ll stop complaining from here on out, but the truth of the matter is that winter is here and there has never been a better time for a seriously robust, restorative stew. Ironically enough, this particular red wine-soaked play on the classic French Boeuf en Daube started life as little more than photography fodder way back in the revitalizing, sunlit days of spring. Searching desperately through the archives for this soothing stew, a rich and hearty melange of savory mushroom essence, salty olives, and gentle spices, I found that the formula was mysteriously missing in action. How could it have been withheld for all this time? To tease that image and not share a recipe is downright cruel, and for that terribly oversight, I’m very sorry!

Plenty of “beefy” stews exist out there, so this is far from ground-breaking material, but trust me: This is the last recipe you’ll ever need. Simply prepared, easily frozen and saved for later, and of course, that complex, intensely savory flavor that can only come from layers of quality ingredients, care, and time. This is what comfort tastes like, steamy enough to cut through any deep chill.

Non-Boeuf en Daube

2 Cups TVP Chunks or Soy Curls
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
5 – 6 Cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
1 Cup Peeled and Diced Carrots
3/4 Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives
1 14-Ounce Can Fire-Roasted, Diced Tomatoes
1/4 Cup Dried Porcini Mushrooms, Finely Chopped
4 – 5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
3 Small Bay Leaves
1 Cup Dry Red Wine
1 Cup Mushroom Broth
2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Date Molasses
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
Pinch Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Cooked Rice or Pasta, to Serve (Optional)

Bring enough water to cover the TVP or soy curls (about 2 1/2 – 3 cups) to a boil and let stand for 30 minutes. Once your protein of choice has fully rehydrated, drain the excess liquid thoroughly and set aside.

Coat the bottom of a large pot with the oil and set on the stove over medium heat. Add in the onions and garlic when the oil begins shimmering, and saute for 4 – 5 minutes until golden brown. Introduce the carrots and olives next, cooking for another 3 minutes or so before incorporating the diced tomatoes, including the liquid they’re packed in, and dried mushrooms. Give the mixture a good stir and it come up to a steady simmer.

Go ahead and add in all of the remaining ingredients at this point and reduce the heat to low or medium low, keeping the stew at a very gentle simmer. Continue cooking until the carrots are meltingly tender and the liquid has significantly reduced. This could take anywhere from 2 – 3 hours, so be patient! The resulting nuanced depth of flavor cannot be rushed.

Remove the bay leaves and sprigs of thyme right before serving. Ladle over your favorite starch for maximum enjoyment.

Makes 6 – 8 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

13 thoughts on “Unfussy French Food

  1. A perfectly scrumptious looking image of what promises to be a heady combination of food for the stomach and a delight for the soul. Everything you need when you are cold, hungry and attempting to fill the gaps in winter. It has just hit “hot” in Tasmania and I am over it already. If you think “you” are complaining too much, you haven’t even begun to ramp up your complaining as much as I have (apparently ;) ). I HATE heat…I am thinking we might organise a swap whereby you get our summer and I get your winter and save myself the fare on the Antarctic icebreaker when I find myself having to move to the South Pole…a win-win situation methinks! :)

  2. A beautiful appetizing picture, Hanna! Yummm too! :)

  3. How delicious! It sounds very good!

  4. My winter comforter never seems warm enough either! I’m blaming it on drafty covers. I too resort to the kitchen…usually the oven so I can waft the leftover heat into my face. Stopping by to admire your photos!

  5. Pingback: Food News Friday, December 20 - Food News Journal : Food News Journal

  6. Excellent recipe. When I make a chili or stew with the TVP, it’s the only meatless dish my husband enjoys. :)

  7. Your recipe says date molasses but the link takes you to pomegranate molasses on amazon, which should it be?

  8. I’ve definitely been turning to stews and soups to keep me warm! This looks uber comforting.

  9. It really does sound like the perfect stew! I’d never think to throw olives in my nonbeefy stews, but now that you mention it, it seems a travesty not to!

  10. I won’t deny loving “beefy-looking” stews, I grew up eating ‘beef’ noodle soups and I love dark broth soups or stews. I need to make your mushroom broth sometimes because this seems like a perfect base for my Asian stews and soups. I like Edwards & Sons beefless broth, it is probably the best kind I’ve used so far. Ces’t délicieux!

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