18 October 2012
Beef-less Tips Over Noodles
I think everyone's mom had a recipe kind of like this in her repertoire. My mom used to make a sort of stew of cubed beef in a thick, savory gravy, served over buttery egg noodles, and she usually told us it was "goulash". I've since learned in my life that real goulash is quite a bit different (my Hungarian heritage is on my dad's side, bee-tee-dub, but I'm under the impression that generations of home cooks were misinformed about goulash thanks to Betty Crocker). W's mom used to make him a dish she called "beef tips over noodles." My poor guy's been a bit down and out lately, and he was super nervous about an interview he had yesterday. I decided I wanted to make him a good and comforting dinner, and with the cold snap in the air, something inside me was shouting, "EAT NOODLES!" And anything with about half a bottle of wine in it must be a mood elevator, right?
I searched the Intertubes briefly and noticed that most of the traditional recipes I encountered relied heavily on convenience products, like cream of mushroom soup, onion soup mix and powdered gravy packets/canned gravy. Well, when you're making retro comfort food, sometimes you just have to throw wholesomeness to the wind. So I did decide to use pre-made "beef" in the form of Gardein's Beef-less Tips. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: I am a vegan who does not care much for seitan. I've tried myriad homemade, store-bought and restaurant-fresh versions, and the taste and texture just don't do it for me. But if you love seitan or have it on hand, this would be a great use for it. I'd only ever used this Gardein product once before to make sauerbraten, as they are a tad pricey, and I try not to eat too many processed fake meats anyway. But these were delicious and just perfect for this application.
I also used the garlic and onion powders called for in a lot of recipes because I find them inoffensive in comparison to a lot of other convenience foods, and I really kind of hate chopping garlic! I finished the sauce with some vegan mayo, which sounds totally weird, I know, but it's not really any weirder than using sour cream. I do not care for store-bought fake sour creams (perhaps because I hated sour cream in my omni life?), and the mayo gave a beautiful, velvety, slightly acidic finish. Yum.
I know most recipes online don't seem to use wine, but I think it's what took the sauce to another level, so don't leave it out! And be sure to use something you enjoy drinking. If you are worried about your wine being vegan, this site is great. Personally, I am not ultra-vegan enough to be really nitpick-y about this; I only care if it is vegetarian-friendly. Vegan wine (especially good vegan wine) is rather hard to obtain, if you ask me, but that choice is most certainly up to you. Obviously, egg noodles are out. I'd had the highest hopes of taking a crack at homemade noodles, but the workday turned out to be a bit more taxing than I'd hoped, so I served this spooned over what I had in my pantry that was most noodle-ish, some linguini. It was nice and carb-heavy and just what we needed. I'm so happy that comfort food weather is settling in upon us again. Happy autumn to all!
EDIT 10/20/12 - It occurred to me later that you could serve this over rice instead of noodles for something very similar to hayashi rice!
Beef-less Tips Over Noodles
½ c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 (9 oz.) package Gardein Beef-less Tips, thawed
¼ c. canola oil
1 large yellow onion,chopped
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. black pepper, or to taste
1½ c. dry red wine (I used Cabarnet)
2 c. no-beef bouillon
¼ c. low-sodium soy sauce
¼ tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
¼ tsp. instant coffee granules (optional)
2 large carrots, sliced into coins
¼ c. water
1 T. cornstarch
1 c. frozen peas
2 T. vegan mayonnaise (I like Follow Your Heart brand)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
½ - ¾ lb. dry pasta
Place the flour in a mixing bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Begin heating the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Toss the beef-less tips in the seasoned flour to coat thoroughly, then add to the hot oil and sear until lightly browned all over. Remove the "beef" to a dish and set aside. Add the chopped onion and bay leaf to the pot and stir well to coat with the oil. Sauté until the onion softens, about 3 minutes. Stir in about 3 T. of the leftover seasoned flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Stir in the spices and cook for a few seconds. Add the wine, bouillon, soy sauce, cocoa powder and instant coffee, and stir well to combine, using a wooden spoon to scrape up as much fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pot as possible. Bring the liquid to a boil, re-add the "beef" and stir to mix. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid and simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring often to prevent sticking. At this point, start bringing water to a boil for your noodles/pasta. Add the carrot and continue simmering for 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are tender but not mushy. Make a slurry with the water and cornstarch. Add this to the sauce and simmer until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat, and stir in the frozen peas and vegan mayo (the peas will thaw quickly in the residual heat.) Adjust the seasoning, if needed, with additional pepper and salt. Serve over the cooked pasta and enjoy.