Editor’s Note: We’ve pull this recipe from the archives. See the comment below about making this dish truly vegetarian!
By Jason Brechin
Saint Patrick’s Day is coming up, and people are thinking about what to make for dinner. Many people rush out to make corned beef and cabbage.
Now, despite its dubious authenticity, it’s just not a really great dish. Sadly, the typically suggested “authentic” St. Patty’s meal is boiled bacon (back bacon, similar to Canadian bacon) and cabbage… not terribly different. It seems to only celebrate what we imagine to be the boredom of winter in Ireland, mushy cabbage swimming in a bland broth with a haphazardly “corned” (cured) piece of meat.
Don’t get me wrong, I love corned beef on its own, especially if it’s done well. Sliced thin on a sandwich or chopped up for a hash, it’s a tasty transformation of a cheap, otherwise tough cut of meat.
I wanted to try something a little different, while still clinging to something resembling Irish tradition. Inspired by chambanamoms.com co-founder, Amy (who’s been trying to eat more meatless meals), I created an easy and delicious vegetarian meal to honor the holiday.
This, however, is the kind of meal you could make any time of year. And if you’re normally a meat-eater (as I am), this recipe should be a great gateway into satisfying, meatless cooking.
I served it with a fairly traditional side item, colcannon, and simple, roasted parsnips. Colcannon is pretty much mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed in. Parsnips are a vegetable I’ve really been getting into lately. They look like cream-colored carrots and have a unique, sweet flavor.
You could serve this with some basic mashed potatoes instead, or add some to the stew. An easy Irish soda bread would be a great option as well. I’ll be sharing recipes for the sides I made on my own Web site, Clever Food Blog.
Guinness and tofu stew
Beef and Guinness go together so well because the roasted malts that go into the beer mirror the smoky-sweet-umami flavors you get from browning meat. In this case, it will lend some of those complex flavors that we really want (but so many vegetarian dishes lack). The umami team will be further boosted by a splash of soy sauce. You could shortcut some of this by buying pre-diced onion, carrot, and celery. I didn’t have much of a chance to test this recipe, but I think adding a bay leaf and 1/2 t of thyme with the liquids would be delicious.
- 1 pound of firm (or extra-firm) tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slices
- 3 T oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 1-2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 1/2 T flour
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1 c Guinness, or your favorite dry stout
- about 1 c water, broth, stock
- 1 can or about 1 1/2 c white beans (navy, cannellini, or any other)
- 1 T parsley, finely chopped
- Press the tofu slices between paper towels to dry them thoroughly.
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a dutch oven or large skillet.
- Fry the tofu, in batches if necessary, until golden brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove and set aside.
- If the pan is dry, add a little oil (1-2 T), then add the onions, carrots, and celery (collectively, the mirepoix).
- Sautee the mirepoix over medium heat, stirring often.
- When the vegetables are softened, sprinkle over the flour, stir to coat, and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the soy sauce and stir to deglaze the pan.
- Add the beer and the beans, stir to combine.
- Add the tofu back in and add enough water, broth, or stock to barely cover.
- Simmer 10-20 minutes for flavors to mellow and gravy to thicken.
- Stir in parsley in the last minute.
Jason Brechin is a former Savoy dad of two daughters and an outstanding at-home chef. Jason and his family moved to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area two years ago.