Belgian Beerless Stew

As you can probably tell by the huge number of reviews on here recently, I’ve not been too experimental in the kitchen. I spend a lot of my time at work preparing food, so by the time I get home to my own kitchen, the enthusiasm for creative cooking has gone. I’m still eating meals, but generally relying far too much on pasta with pesto, veggie sausages/burgers and scrambled tofu. I finally had a nice long weekend with no plans, so decided to flick through some cookbooks for a bit of inspiration.

I wasn’t really feeling it until I came across a recipe for a Belgian Beer Stew. I don’t know why this caught my eye, I don’t drink and I’ve always thought of stew as a dish I’ve perfected. I read through the ingredients and was really intrigued to see that the dish contained gingerbread. Baked goods in a stew? Interesting. I read the description which recommended authentic Belgian mustard and gingerbread but gave the option to use whatever you could get your hands on. Cool. I read further and was told that there is no substitute for the Belgian beer used in this dish. In fact, it states that if I couldn’t get hold of a sweet Belgian beer I shouldn’t bother…
Well…I’m not having that. No one is telling me that alcohol is crucial in a recipe, especially if it’s a recipe that has bloody cake in it. No. I don’t believe it. So I came up with this, and believe it or not, I think I made a pretty good Belgian Beerless Stew here.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 packs of Fry’s meaty strips (or sub with homemade seitan/portobello mushrooms)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 3 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp yeast extract
  • 2 slices of homemade vegan Peperkoek (I used this recipe, but substituted the egg for a flax egg and reduced baking time)
  • worcester sauce
  • brown sugar to taste
  • salt and pepper
  1. First off, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions for 15 minutes or so, until they are soft, translucent and slightly caramelised.
  2. Add half the Fry’s strips, the bay leaves and the mixed herbs. Pour in half of the vegetable stock and add the wholegrain mustard. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on a low heat for 45 minutes.
  3. Stir the yeast extract into the rest of the stock and add to the stew, along with the rest of the fry’s strips and a generous splash of worcester sauce. Crumble in the two slices of peperkoek and continue to cook through on a low heat until the cake begins to dissolve in the stew.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and taste. If you think it needs a little extra sweetness, add a little brown sugar before serving.
Serves 4
This was so sweet and good, I don’t think it missed the beer at all. I think using red onion and cooking it right down gave it the sweetness the beer would have provided and the yeast extract really gives it that ‘meaty’ flavour. It felt a bit bizarre eating a stew with bits of gingerbread in, but it was surprisingly nice!
I originally only planned to use one pack of the Fry’s strips, but when cooking the first box down they completely disintegrated into the sauce! I think next time I’ll use a load of mushrooms and then just add one pack of faux beef at the end.
The recipe suggests serving this stew with fries, but I decided to defy it’s advice to the bitter end and served mine with smiley faces. Yeah. Fancy.


6 thoughts on “Belgian Beerless Stew

  1. Haha, I love your attitude! I don't drink either, so I am glad to know that beer can be left out without incident. I made a stout stew a couple of years ago and thought it was really bitter, would have been miles better without the stout! Although I have made tomato sauces with wine which are nice once the alcohol cooks off.

    Glad to know that I'm not the only one who is too busy to make fancy meals! I also love processed potato products, the more humourously-shaped the better! 🙂


  2. I don't know if it's the change of weather, but I too was recently tempted by a vegan Belgian beer soup recipe, though the one I have stumbled on does not have cake in it. I will certainly be giving it a go now, especially having seen your gorgeous bowl that is really tempting.


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