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updated: 3/1/2011 2:23 PM

Irish "Steak" and Stout Stew

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1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 package (5 ounces) vegetarian bacon (such as Lightlife)

6 tablespoons vegan margarine, divided

1 cup flour

teaspoon salt

teaspoon pepper

cup soy sauce

1 pound vegan steak strips, thawed and chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 large carrot, chopped

1 cups stout or other dark beer

-- cup vegetable stock

1 cup frozen peas

Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and the "bacon" strips. (You may have to do this in two batches to not crowd the pan, and the second batch might need a bit more oil). Cook until they're browned and crisp, and remove them to a paper-towel covered plate. Once they cool a bit, chop them into small pieces and set aside.

Add a tablespoon or so of margarine (or olive oil) to the pan to melt.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour with the salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, combine the soy sauce and the "steak," and toss to coat. Toss the "steak" in the flour mixture, and add to the hot pan. Sear the "steak" pieces in three to four batches until they're golden and the flour is no longer visibly white. Remove them to the paper towel-lined plate you used for the bacon. Don't worry if some of the pieces might stick to the pan; you actually want that because it adds more flavor.)

Once you finish cooking the "steak," add another tablespoon of margarine to the pot. Add the onion and cook until softened, scraping up all the bits of "steak" that stuck to the pan. You can add a splash of veggie broth to help deglaze the bottom. Once the onion is soft, add the carrots. Saute them together for about 5 minutes, until the onion is golden. Add the garlic, and saute for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.

Add the beer to the onion mixture and scrape up any bits still stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the "steak" and "bacon," and about a cup broth; stir and cook for 5 minutes, until thick. Add the peas, lower the heat, cover the pot and cook for a few minutes to heat the peas through. If the stew is too thick, add more beer or vegetable stock. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Serves six to eight.

Cook's notes: You can serve the stew in a bowl with crusty bread, or in puff pastry shells. If you prefer softer carrots you could steam them for a few minutes before adding them to the pot, or simmer the stew longer.

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