Many people are looking for vegan alternatives to meat these days, and some of the popular alternatives include:
- Portobello mushrooms
- Tofu chunks
- Soy chunks
- Quorn chunks
You can achieve a great hearty stew with any of these options! Read on to find out more about each stew meat alternative.
1. Portobello Mushrooms
Mushrooms are one of the most common alternatives when you want to make a hearty meal with no meat. They are a top favorite food for vegetarians, and they tend to be inexpensive.
Mushrooms also aren’t a heavily processed food, which many people prefer.
They are healthy, filling, and have great flavor and texture. They replicate the chewiness of meat to a degree, but they are tender and succulent, making them perfect for stews.
You can choose your mushrooms to suit the dish, but to replace stew meat, you want mushrooms that have a bit of structure and stability. They should bulk your stew out and make it filling, and they need to have plenty of flavor.
Portobello mushrooms are likely your best option if you can get them. Cremini mushrooms will also work. Smaller mushrooms may break up too much and lose their structure in the stew.
You can start by browning your mushrooms in oil, and then adding vegetables and flour, followed by stock and other seasonings. A bit of red wine makes this stew extra delicious.
2. Tofu Chunks
Tofu is often maligned as a meat substitute because it can be very bland if it is not cooked properly. However, if you press the water out of it to dry it and then sear it in a skillet, it takes on a delicious crispiness. Add some seasoning, and you’ve got chunks of tasty, meat-like tofu.
You may wish to cook your tofu separately from the rest of the stew and add it in at the end.
Give it at least twenty minutes in the marinade, and then toss it into a hot skillet and let it sear on each side. When it has finished, add it to your stew, stir it in, and allow it to bubble for ten minutes or so to help the flavors absorb.
You can just add the tofu to the stew without marinating it, but you may find that the flavors don’t absorb as well. If you plan to do this, make sure you cut it into fairly small chunks so that the stock can soak in and make the tofu richer tasting.
Another great alternative, eggplant offers the firmness and juiciness of meat. It also provides a tender, melt-in-the-mouth velvety texture that even a great meaty stew may not be able to capture.
Eggplant becomes silky and delicious when cooked well, and it soaks up the flavors of the dish, as well as building on them.
You should still use mushrooms in this stew too, as they bulk it up and replicate the chewiness of meat, but eggplant is a great alternative to make your stew more varied and interesting. Both its taste and texture are superb.
Adding fruit to your stew might seem a strange idea. However, jackfruit is a very unusual food and it is often used by vegetarians and vegans as a meat substitute. It is chewy and absorbs flavors well.
Jackfruit is similar in texture to shredded pork or chicken, and this makes it a great option for stew. As long as it takes on the flavors of the vegetables – which it should – it can mimic stew meat very effectively. It is pretty neutral in terms of its own taste.
You should use unripe jackfruit for a meatless stew. It can be stirred in after the vegetables have had a bit of time to fry, just before you put the stock in. Once the stock is added, the soup needs to simmer for a good forty minutes or so, until the vegetables and the jackfruit are tender.
You may wish to shred the jackfruit before you serve the soup.
If you’re just after a chunky texture, potatoes are a very simple option. They do not add much in terms of flavor, so you will need to get your “meaty” taste elsewhere. However, they are cheap, easy to cook, and very nutritious.
Adding potatoes to your soup in place of meat is a good way to make it filling and satisfying. Depend on herbs, spices, and good stock for your flavor, and the potatoes will be perfect.
Make sure you cut them into manageable chunks so that they cook well and take on some flavor from the other ingredients.
6. Soy Chunks
You can make a fantastic meat stew with soy chunks (TVP). They should be browned in oil before you add them to the stew.
They will help to build up its flavor, but they also increase the amount of protein and make the stew look more “meaty.”
You can even toss herbs in with the soy chunks, or flour the outsides to make them crispier. This will help your stew to thicken, too.
7. Quorn Chunks
If you want the texture of meat, Quorn chunks are another viable alternative. They may be less readily available than some of the other meat substitute products you buy, but they are a great option if you’re struggling to transition to veganism.
You can sear the chunks and flavor them before adding them to the stew, or just add them. Either way, they will bring good flavor and texture without needing any complicated processing.
There are plenty of alternatives to meat in your stews, so try out the different options and see which ones appeal to you. You might find some better replicate the texture of meat, while others handle the flavor.
Of course, you can use more than one in a stew if you choose to! Mushrooms and tofu might prove the perfect combination for you.