Image: Hearty vegan goodness.
I was living in a small town in France when I went vego. I started reducing my meat intake for a whole host of political and personal reasons, and after a couple of months, I completely lost the stomach for meat. Eating out then became difficult. I remember being on a train and asking the person running the trolley service if they had any vegetarian sandwiches, to which they replied “oui, on a du poulet”. Having other people cook for me was also a challenge. Friends were lovely and did their best, but they struggled to understand my dietary requirements. The only other vegetarian in town ate seafood, so I felt guilty and awkward turning down the fish-based meals they had prepared especially for me.
I began exploring ways to adapt previously-loved meat-based dishes to my newly acquired vego taste buds. This Slow-Cooked Chestnut Bourguignon recipe is my favourite thing that I came up with during that time. The chestnuts are really hearty so I find they work well as a wholesome substitute for beef. So chuck on some Jacques Dutronc and do a little dance, because French food just became a little more cruelty-free.
Slow-Cooked Chestnut Bourguignon
- 800g chestnuts
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 200g button mushrooms, quartered
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 bottle vegan red wine (see note)
- 1 vego friendly “beef style” stock cube
- Fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano in a bouquet garni)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 220 °C.
- Cut across the curved side of the shell of the chestnuts using a serrated knife. Place them into a saucepan and cover them with water. Bring to a simmer.
- Remove chestnuts from water, place in a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes then peel.
- Place peeled chestnuts in a large pan or wok and cook in oil over a low-medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
- Add onions, garlic, mushrooms and carrot and cook for a few minutes, stirring the mixture.
- Once the vegetables are lightly cooked, stir the flour through the mixture and leave for 1 minute.
- Cover the mixture in wine and add the stock cube, herbs, salt and pepper.
- Place a lid over the saucepan and cook over a low heat for 3-4 hours, until the wine has made a thick sauce. Stir occasionally and add more wine or water as necessary.
- Serve with bread and/or roasted potatoes.
Note – Make sure to check the label of the wine. Most wine manufacturers in Australia and New Zealand use fining agents – such as egg, milk, gelatine and fish – to improve the clarity of the wine. Yellow Tail’s reds are known to be vegan friendly, as well as a lot of organic wines. You can learn more about animal products in wine here.