The days are grey, again, but a stew bubbeling away on the stove always makes for a better day in my opinion. This vegan jackfruit stew is part of my three course Christmas menu, of which I will also post a full breakdown/ menu/ shopping list/ cooking instructions next week.
With a vegan stew it’s important to add some depth of flavour. When cooking with meat a reaction takes place which results in a brown colour and specific aromas (read more about it down below). Vegetables also contain proteins, but in a much smaller quantity. Swapping them out, means we need to add flavour in another way. In this stew recipe I used soy sauce, as it is fermented and has a umami flavour. We are also adding some flour and letting it turn brown at the bottom, for those flavour bits.
Ingredients (for 3- 4 people)
- red onion
- clove of garlic
- big carrot
- 400g chestnut mushrooms
- 1 bunch of thyme
- 1 tbsp vegan butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 25ml red wine
- a tin of jackfruit pieces
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice (I use this one which has ground cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, clove, ginger, cardamom)
- 1/2 a veggie stock cube
- To serve: pasta/ mashed potatoes
Dishes you’ll make
- A Dutch oven/ pan
- Cutting board
- Measuring jug
How to make it
- Dice the red onion, peel and the carrot and cut into half moons. Clean the mushrooms with a paper towel and quarter. Add the tablespoon of vegan butter to a pan (or Dutch oven if you have one) and let it melt. Turn the heat to medium high and add the onion, fry until it is slightly transparant.
- Remove the thyme leaves from the stalks and coursly chop. Grate in the clove of garlic and add the carrot, thyme and a pinch of salt, fry for about 3 minutes. Throw in the mushrooms, stir and fry for about 5 minutes until the mushrooms have lost most of their moisture. In the meanwhile, drain the jackfruit and rinse it thoroughly. Use your hand to break the chunks of jackfruit a little.
- Add two tablespoons of flour to the pan and stir through. This will stick to the bottom, it is supposed to. Keep an eye on it, until the flour bits turn golden brown. Add in your wine and scrape off the bits from the bottom. Add the teaspoon of soy sauce, the jackfruit pieces, 200ml of water, the bay leaf and a 1/2 tsp of spice mix. Stir, lower the heat to medium low, and let it simmer for 45 minutes. Stir regularly, about every 10- 15 minutes or so.
- In the meanwhile, cook whatever you are serving it with. It doesn’t matter if the stew is on a little longer whilst you make mashed potatoes/ pasta. When it’s done remove the bay leaf and serve.
The Maillard reaction is a browning reaction: it causes food to turn brown. It is actually a bunch of reactions which start off with an amino acid (protein) and a carbohydrate. All these reactions can only take place above 100°C. Above 100°C water evaporates, so water of 110°C doesn’t exist (under normal pressure that is). That means when you cook food in water/ high moisture it won’t develop the browning, but more importantly: the complex aroma’s which also form during this the Maillard reactions. Make sure your mushrooms have lost most of their moisture.
Other flavour makers
You can definitely use some other ingredients to add depth of flavour. Add a little tomato puree right before you add the flour, or if you are not vegan worcestershire sauce would be a good one. You can also add mustard or some pickled mini onions (zilveruitjes) for a zing. I don’t recommend adding tinned tomatoes, the stew will become too tomato saucey.
Note: The pappardelle in this photo is not vegan, because I didn’t pay enough attention during my grocery shopping trip. I haven’t been able to find a vegan pappardelle, but I am sure it will be just as good with another pasta or mashed potatoes.