Sequestration Meal #274


'Tis the season for Americans to attempt to make Irish food, much of which is not actually Irish. I was in the mood to mark the St. Patrick's Day holiday, although I wanted something other than corned beef and cabbage (I've made vegan corned beef and it hasn't fully lived up to my expectations). So I found a recipe for vegan Irish stew with savory herb dumplings and was excited to give it a try.

Among other things, this required having a newly vaccinated friend go to an actual store and buy a bottle of vegan stout for me. I don't drink, and I'm supposed to avoid alcohol for medical reasons, but cooking with beer should be okay, since it's both diluted and a lot of the alcohol cooks out anyway (not all cooks out, so be forewarned if you're super sensitive; sometimes I can't handle cooking with alcohol). But I did do this on a weekend just in case I reacted badly or the stew made me tipsy. If it matters, this is the stout I used, which is supposed to be vegan:

(If you're unfamiliar with this weird reality about beer, I'll explain: The beer itself should be vegan unless it's a milk stout, but beer is often clarified with gelatin or isinglass (which also gelatin, but comes from fish).) This was a bigger bottle than I needed for the recipe, so I also had plans to make something else you'll likely see soon.

The dumpling batter ended up really thin, though the dumplings themselves cooked up fine, and they were fluffy and wonderful. I substituted finely chopped scallion tops for the chives, since I didn't manage to get chives, and dried thyme for the fresh. Otherwise I followed the recipe as directed.

I should also point out that I hate beer (the taste of it) so this is probably one of my more ill-advised ideas, but I thought it would taste a lot different in stew and there were so many recipes saying how wonderfully rich and savory beer made soup. And rich and savory, I do like! I mean, obviously you don't just eat a straight spoon of Marmite, but Marmite can be nice in things. So it wasn't totally off base to think I might like beer-flavored soup.

The first few bites tasted good, if somewhat bitter. But it was incredibly difficult to finish a bowl. The best part was the mushrooms--those actually did benefit from the simmering in this broth--but mostly I think I was trying to tell myself I liked it since I'd spent so much on it. (That bottle of stout was about $7, which is way more than I would typically pay for that quantity of a liquid.) The bitter taste intensified and the aftertaste lasted me until I went to bed. I brushed my teeth, ate other things, drank a full glass of soy milk, etc. Ultimately flossing, brushing, and using mouthwash got rid of most of it, but it was at least 10 hours of tasting the bitter soup in my mouth anyway before I fell asleep. 

I made a big pot of this--I made the full recipe rather than halving it--so we'll see if it improves at all, and I won't eat it until dinner, and I'll floss right after, but if I can't make it through another bowl I'll just have learned an important lesson. I'm not sorry I tried this soup, but I will not make it again.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


  1. I don't drink alcohol and even if I did, I would not drink beer because it is gross. I like using pale ale or Corona in certain recipes (I have a killer dill beer bread recipe I love), but I find stout to be too overpowering. Especially in savoury. I have had some better success using it in baking which chocolate. I think I made some chocolate stout cupcakes that were OK. But I too have had that weird bitter forever taste after using it in a stew.

    1. Thanks! That's good to know. It makes me feel a bit less crazy.


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