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Seitan and Root Vegetable Stew

A killer main course that will satisfy everybody's tastes...from omnivore to carnivore to herbivore.

avocado oil
yellow cornmeal
sea salt
1 pound seitan, cut into bite-size pieces
2 yellow onions, thick wedges
2 carrots, large irregular chunks
2 parsnips, large irregular chunks
2 cups 1-inch cubes winter squash (buttercup is best)
1/4 cup mirin or white wine
spring or filtered water
2 small handfuls green beans, tips trimmed, left whole
1-2 tablespoons kuzu, dissolved in small amount cold water
small handful fresh parsley, finely minced, for garnish

Heat about 2 inches oil in a deep sauce pan, over medium heat. While the oil heats, combine cornmeal with a generous pinch of salt and cut the seitan. Dredge the seitan in cornmeal. When the oil is hot, fry the seitan until it is golden and crispy. Drain on paper and set aside while preparing the vegetables.

In a heavy pot (I prefer clay, if possible), layer the onion, carrot and parsnips. Add a generous pinch of salt and about a cup of water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until the parsnips are just tender, not soft. Add squash, mirin, more water, if needed and another generous pinch of salt. Cover and cook until squash is tender. Add the fried seitan, but do not stir. Add green beans, season to taste with salt, cover and cook until the green beans are bright green and tender. Dissolve kuzu in a small amount of cold water, stir in and continue to stir gently until the kuzu thickens and clears, forming a shiny glaze over the stew. (The amount of kuzu needed will depend on the amount of liquid left in the stew--more liquid, more kuzu; less liquid, less kuzu.) 

If cooking in a clay pot, the stew can go from stove top to table. Simply stir in some parsley. If cooked in a heavy pot, transfer stew to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Makes 5-6 servings. 

Note: Heat the oil over medium-low heat to insure it is hot through and through. You know the oil is ready when patterns appear on the bottom of the pan or if you submerge chopsticks in the oil, bubbles gather. The seitan can be fried the morning of the party and chilled. The stew is best if made an hour before dinner and served freshly cooked. 


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