Aside from making simple beer batters to coat various foods in before deliciously deep frying them, I haven’t really cooked much with beer. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. My dad got me a 9 pack (yep, 9 pack. Strange, eh?) of an auburn ale brewed by a local craft brewery in Oakville, Ontario named Cameron’s. I had previously tried their cream ale and lager at bars and in backyards, but wasn’t really that impressed by either of them. I found the auburn ale, however, to be quite tasty. I decided I’d pour it into a stew and see what happened. The end result was delicious, which was great, because the auburn ale is a pretty hoppy beer and I was worried that that would make the stew’s broth too bitter. I wanted to make it extra meaty tasting, so I used a bunch of portobello and crimini mushrooms, the latter of which are actually baby portobellos. Also, I went out and bought some vegan worcestershire sauce, which is something I haven’t had in my pantry for years. As soon as I twisted the cap off, the smell instantly reminded me of my dad, who used to put Lea & Perrins sauce on everything from meat to salads to toast. It was weird.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 small onions, diced
3 cups carrot, sliced
1 package (8 ounces) crimini mushrooms, diced
1 portabello mushroom cap, diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 cups white or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons tamari (or other good quality soy sauce)
3 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup barley
1 bottle (12 ounces) dark ale
5 cups water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced (about 2 sprigs)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1. In a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots. Sauté, stirring frequently, for about 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Add both types of mushrooms and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to sauté, stirring often, for about 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add the potatoes, tamari, wostershire sauce, and barley. Stir together and sauté, stirring often, for another 2 minutes.
4. Pour in the beer and then the water. Be careful not to pour the beer too fast so it doesn’t foam up too much.
5. Add the tomato paste and fresh rosemary. Stir until the paste is mixed in well. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately turn down to medium-low, cover with a lid, and let simmer for about 50 minutes, or until the potatoes and barley are cooked through.
6. Remove lid and stir in the fresh thyme. Let cook for another 5 minutes and then remove from heat. If needed, season to taste with more salt. Serve with mug of ale and plenty of crusty bread to mop up the goodness at the bottom of the bowl.
Makes: 5 to 7 servings