I love stew. Always have. My mom would typically makes hers in a pressure cooker, and the smells permeating the house were heaven sent. I wanted something reminiscent of those days, so when I came upon this recipe, I had to make it.
Seitan, cut into chunks (I made my own, using the recipe from Seitan with Satan, more on that later!)
1-2 lbs. potatoes, chopped into quarters
5-6 large carrots, sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finally chopped
1 bag frozen peas
4 c. vegetable broth or stock
2 vegetable boullion cubes mixed with 2 c. boiling water
1 c. unbleached flour, mixed with 1 tbsp. onion powder and 1 tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tbsp. thyme
1/2 tbsp. sage
1 c. unbleached flour, mixed with 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 c. water (I actually used the leftover flour from above and the leftover broth from making seitan earlier)
1. Dredge seitan chunks in flour/onion powder/garlic powder mixture.
2. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Toss in seitan chunks and cook until heated through and slightly browned.
3. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add vegetable broth, vegetable bouillon/boiled water mixture, potatoes, onions, and carrots. Allow to cook for at least 35-40 minutes, or until potatoes and carrots are mostly cooked through.
5. Add frozen peas, thyme, and sage and mix well. Add flour/soy sauce/water mixture slowly, and stir well - this thickens the stew. Allow to cook for 10-15 more minutes, or until peas are completely heated through.
I really liked the flavor of this, and didn't even add any salt or pepper to it.
I made my very first batch of seitan for this, rather than buying it premade from the store. It was remarkably easy, made the house smell divine, and came out pretty darned good, I thought, for my first attempt. I am definitely going to make my own seitan from now on.
I wondered about the history of stews, since they are not only popular now, but are often mentioned in different books I read, both fiction and non-fiction. It seems stews are mentioned in the oldest cookbook known. There are recipes for lamb stews & fish stews in 'Apicius de re Coquinaria', whose identity is uncertain, there having been 3 Romans by that name in the period 1st century BC to 2nd century AD. The most famous and colorful of the three was M. Gavius Apicius, who taught haute cuisine under Tiberius and who legend has it exhausted a vast fortune on his lavish dinners, finally killing himself when his funds no longer permitted him to eat to his tastes.What is known is that the book has survived, and there are recipes for stews of lamb and fish in it. There is an English translation of Apicius for those so inclined.
There were also stew recipes by one Taillevent (French chef, 1310-1395 whose real name was Guillaume Tirel), who wrote Le Viandier, one of the oldest cookbooks in French. It mentions ragouts (ragoût), which is the French word for a main-dish stew.
There is archaeological evidence of practices going back 7,000 or 8,000 years or more of other cultures using shell of large mollusks, like clams, and turtle shells to boil foods in. And, no doubt the development of pottery, perhaps 10,000 years ago, made cooking even easier.
All I know is making stew is one of the easiest things to do and very flexible, ingredients-wise. So whip up a cauldron...er...pot of stew and enjoy!