It’s snowing here in Toronto and though I am not a fan of winter, I do love stews. My childhood favourite was beef stew with potatoes and peas with a good slice of crusty French bread to wipe my bowl completely clean. Years ago, my friend Sarah and I planned to see the movie Julie and Julia but instead of movie snacks Sarah made the classic Boeuf Bourguignon from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My dear friend spent all day in front of a hot stove on a summer’s day browning beef and mushrooms while I just bought her the movie ticket. We smuggled the stew into the movies with a bottle of wine (Who needs popcorn and Pepsi?) and dined in the dark theatre. The inside of my purse smelled like beef for about a week but it was all worth it. Though I don’t want beef anymore, I still love the idea of a deep rich red wine based stew. I researched a lot of vegan “Boeuf Bourguignon” recipes but a lot of them used seitan or tempheh, which I don’t like in particular and the broth looked too thin. I wanted a thick stew that I could scoop up onto a piece of French bread with a flavourful wine base. Now I know what you are thinking: ”Do I have to use the whole bottle of wine?” Yes. Julia Child did and so should you. Since we aren’t using beef to enhance this recipe browning the vegetables is really important so please be patient and allow the carrots and onions to brown. You can use the fancy lentilles du puy but they can be tricky to find so regular green lentils can be used. I used President’s Choice Organic Green Lentils, not to be confused with green split peas. Not all wine is vegan so check http://www.barnivore.com for wines in your area. You just need a dry red wine, nothing too fancy but it needs to be a wine that you would want to drink. Serve this stew with the same kind of wine that you are using in the stock. Now put on your apron and a string of faux pearls, pour yourself a glass of wine, turn on some Edith Piaf and warm up with Lentils Burgundy. Bon Appetit!
Adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
- 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
- 1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped (about 2 cups)
- 4 carrots, unpeeled, cut lengthwise and chopped into half moons (2 cups)
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated, unpeeled and crushed with the back of a knife
- ½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1-750 ml bottle dry red wine
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped parsley (stems are ok too)
- 8 springs of thyme
- 2 bay leaves, crumbled
- ½ teaspoon whole black pepper corns
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups low sodium vegetable stock
- 10 ounces pearl onions (any colour is good, I used red pearl onions)
- 1-tablespoon organic cane sugar
- Pinch of kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- ½ cup of water
- 1 teaspoon Earth Balance
- 1 ¼ pounds cremini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
- 5 teaspoons Earth Balance
- 5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced (medium dice about 1 cup)
- 1 cup green lentils or lentilles du puy, rinsed and picked over for pebbles or shriveled beans
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely grated through a microplane
- 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced (2 cups medium dice)
- ¼ cup fresh minced parsley
For the stock:
In a large pot melt the Earth Balance and oil over medium heat until bubbly. Add onions and carrots and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally until the vegetables are caramelized. They should be golden brown and very soft, not black. If you find that they are burning too quickly, turn down the heat. Add the crushed garlic cloves and stir until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add porcini mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, ensuring all garlic and mushrooms are coated in the oil. Add the wine, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring up to simmer and cook until the wine is reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and bring up to a simmer again. Allow the stock to simmer for another 15 minutes. Take stock off heat. Over a large bowl set a fine mesh strainer and ladle the stock over the strainer, gently pressing the vegetables to get most of the stock out. Discard the vegetables and continue with the rest of the stock, you should have about 6-6.5 cups of stock.
Wipe out the now empty stockpot with a paper towel and return the stock to the pot, cover and keep it warm over low heat until ready to use.
For the garnish:
In a small pot, bring 4 cups of water to rolling boil over high heat. Add pearl onions and cook for 4 minutes. Drain over a strainer and rinse with very cold water until cool to the touch. Cut the root and stem off and peel skin off the onion. Continue with the rest. In the now empty pot, bring ½ cup water, sugar, salt and pepper to a boil. Add the peeled onions, cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and allow liquid to reduce to about 3 tablespoons. Add the butter and coat onions. It should be browned and glossy. Set onions aside until the stew is ready.
For the stew:
In another large (preferably cast iron) pot, heat 1 teaspoon Earth Balance with 1-teaspoon olive oil over medium heat until bubbly. Add a quarter of the mushrooms to the pot and spread out evenly so the mushrooms aren’t crowded.
I added more for the next batch but just don’t crowd them or they will be grey and not browned.
Brown all sides of the mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Place the browned mushrooms in bowl and continue browning the raw mushrooms, adding the oil-butter mixture for each batch. I did mine in 4 batches. Set mushrooms aside. Add the last oil-butter mixture to the pot and add the carrots. Cook until the carrots are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the rinsed lentils to the pot with 1/3 cup of the wine stock and partly cover the pot with the lid and cook for 7 minutes.
Add the salt, pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the rest of the stock to the pot and bring heat up to medium to medium high until a gentle boil. Cook lentils for 15 minutes, uncovered and then add the cubed potatoes, cook until tender, about another 15 minutes. Remove 1 cup of the stew and add it to a food processor or blender. Blend until very smooth, it will almost resemble a paste.
Add the puree back to the pot and gently stir until the stew has thickened.
Add the browned mushrooms and peas and cook until heated through, about 6 minutes. Add pearl onions and ladle stew into serving dishes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with wine and warm crusty French bread. Bon Appetite!