As soon as the temperature dipped below 70, I posted this recipe for Mary Berry’s amazing Hot Mustard Spiced Beef. I share it every fall and again in the dead of winter. It’s the ultimate cold-weather comfort food. I mean, don’t you just want to grab that spoon and dig in?
As beef stews go, this one isn’t the same-old, same-old. Berry’s combo of Dijon mustard and curry powder lend lovely depth and tang. Those two ingredients are combined in a slurry of flour, Worcestershire sauce, a little brown sugar and stock to give the stew wonderful body.
Can It Go Meatless?
“Ever tried this with a meat alternative?” an acquaintance commented on my post.
Good question. From plant-based ground “beef” that’s a very good stand-in for the real thing to the explosion of vegan “chicken” nuggets, the variety and availability of mock meat options has never been better.
And it’s getting even better all the time. I’ll happily use Impossible Burger and was recently wowed by Miyoko Creamery’s new pourable Pizza Mozzarella (their sliceable regular and smoked mozzarella are damn good, too). The USDA recently gave Tufts University $10 million to research and develop lab-grown meat. (That’s literally change under the couch cushions compared to, say, the $500 million the USDA is shoveling into the meat and poultry industry. So the USDA is far from going whole hog on the plant-based scene, but this tells you they see something to it.)
As of now, though, there’s nothing on the plant-based scene that’s going to approximate the delicious heft and chew of the cubed chuck in Berry’s recipe. Again, if a terrific beef stew is what you’re after, make her recipe forthwith.
Still, my acquaintance’s query stuck with me. I live with someone who doesn’t eat meat, so Berry’s stew isn’t likely to be on our menu anytime soon. But I thought the flavors and techniques could give vegetable stew really delicious stick-to-your ribs heft.
My (Almost) Vegetarian Strategy
Using that as a starting point, I went way up on the mushrooms, and sweated them in a dry pan to intensify their flavor. I added Yukon gold potatoes – I love them in a stew – along with beans to make it a meal. Berry’s recipe also calls for cooking the carrots in a separate pot, and I wanted to keep my version to one pan. If I can minimize cleanup, you bet I will.
A word about curry powder: For some folks, curry powder is a deal-breaker. I understand that since curry powder is a spice blend that can vary a lot. Truthfully, neither this recipe nor Berry’s original is going to change their mind. If that’s you, no judgment. Just try replacing the curry powder with a DIY blend of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (sweet or smoked), black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. All of these would marry well with the mustard and other ingredients.
Hmmm, I’ll probably do a version 2.0 with that …
Dijon-Curry Bean & Vegetable Stew v1.0
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (vegan, if you prefer)
2 teaspoons curry powder
2½ cups vegetable or mushroom stock, divided
1 pound button or cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks (no need to peel)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, curry powder and ½ cup stock.
Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high. (Note: I made this in an 11-inch/3-quart saute pan, and it was pretty full but worked just fine. A Dutch oven would work great, too. Just make sure there’s plenty of surface area for the mushrooms to sweat it out.) Add mushrooms to the dry pan. Saute 5-7 minutes, tossing frequently. They’ll squeak at first as they release their liquid. Keep sauteing until they look fairly dry and are turning golden.
Add the butter and oil. Once the butter has melted, add the onion, and saute 2 minutes or until tender. Stir in the remaining 2 cups stock. Gradually add the flour mixture, whisking until it’s well incorporated. Whisk 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the carrots, potatoes and a generous hit of salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 25-30 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are tender.
Uncover, and stir in the beans. Simmer 5 minutes or until heated through. Taste, and adjust seasoning as needed. If desired, serve garnished with parsley.