So Friday was our friends' Bob and Amy's Iron Chef Christmas party potluck. The whole concept was to have a theme ingredient that everyone had include in their dish. This year the theme was alcohol so that included bourbon and rum balls (that were really the candy version of a jello shooter), spiked bread puddings, a yum yum cranberry relish (with Cointreau) and the hit of the evening (by virtue of it not being a dessert), my "boeuf" bourguignonne. One fun thing about the party was reclaiming my signature drink from college - Ouzo on the rocks. I loved Ouzo. I don't know why I gave it up because it goes down easily and gets me from zero to drunk by hte time it hits my stomach. While I watered down the Ouzo at the party to ensure I wouldn't make an ass out of myself, it still tasted damn good and brought back memories of my study abroad year drinking with the Greeks. I am definitely planning on involving Ouzo into my New Year's Eve plans. I've long since given up the vegetarian life but there are some recipes that I've made up that I just don't mess with. One of them is the Satay meatballs made of fake ground beef (we call it Log O' Meat) and the other is the bourginion. I use these fake fajita meat strips and they taste divine. The real key to this dish is not the wine but the true gift to a fake meat enthusiast - Bac-O's. Oh god do they solidify this dish into a true meat alternative.
Here's the recipe:
1 large onion chopped into chunks
4 cloves of garlic coarsely chopped four or five sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary (or a sprinkle of dried)
4 carrots chopped into big chunks
1 small box of button mushrooms, sliced
2 packages fake beef fajita strips
1 vegetable stock cube
2 tablespoons Baco-Os
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
3 cups of red wine
2 cups of water
For the roux
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
One of the truly great reasons to use fake beef strips instead of real beef is that it saves you the step of searing the beef first and then taking it out and then putting it back in again. Who needs that? Anyway, you saute the onions in a mixture of two tablespoons olive oil and two tablespoons butter for a few minutes and then add the garlic and carrots. Add a little salt and pepper at this stage so the garlic doesn't go brown and turn bitter (thanks Nigella Lawson). Add the herbs, mushrooms, fajita strips, tomato paste, and Bac-Os. Saute a little bit longer and then add the red wine and water. Bring to a boil and them simmer for 20 minutes, stirring. Have faith folks because for the first 15 minutes it will taste like salty wine.
After 20 minutes adjust the seasonings - add more salt, pepper, and for me, I add honey if necessary. The honey is important part of fake meat cooking for me because meat does have natural sweetness. Adding honey helps bring the dish together in the same way adding salt does. Let it simmer a bit longer while you make the roux. Just mix the butter and flour together in a small pan and mix under low heat until they are completely incorporated and the roux is a golden color. Add the roux to the stew, stirring vigourously to avoid lumps. Serve warm with crusty bread. And really don't serve it with potatoes or noodles or any such nonsense because the wine makes the stew slightly purple and purple noodles - YUCK!