Nothing says comfort like a big bowl of hearty beef(less) stew. This recipe is really like two recipes in one - flavorful seitan chunks for any beefy dish, and a stew recipe that utilizes them perfectly. Plus you can easily freeze leftovers! Just set aside time to allow the seitan to rest for several hours or overnight in the fridge before making the stew.
Add the 1 small or 1/2 large onion, 1 stalk celery, mushrooms and 3 cloves of garlic to a food processor and blend until very fine.
Heat the 1/2T of oil in a saucepan over med/high, then and add the contents from the food processor.
Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften and begin to lose liquid. Then add the rest of the sauté ingredients through the ground pepper and bring the mix to a simmer, stirring frequently.
Add the 1/2 cup of wine (or 1/2 cup of broth if using in place of wine) and continue to simmer until the mixture begins to cook down and starts to look less soupy and more chunky.
While that is cooking down, add the rest of the wet mix ingredients to the food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
Scoop the mixture from the saucepan into the food processor and blend everything together until it is well mixed (it does not need to be perfectly smooth, just fully incorporated).
If your food processor bowl is large enough, you can add the 2 cups of vital wheat gluten (VWG) into the wet mix, and blend until a dough begins to form. Otherwise, prepare a bowl with the VWG and add the mixture to it from the food processor.
At this point you can continue to knead in your food processor (switching over to a dough blade if you have one) in batches until the dough begins to look very stringy.
Prepare your steamer. If you use an Instant Pot, add 2 cups of water to the bottom and insert the trivet. Otherwise, add a steamer basket to a large pot on the stove, and add enough water so it goes just about up to the basket. Cover it with a lid and get it boiling.
Wrap your loaf tightly in aluminum foil. If you don't like to use foil, you can use parchment paper or cheesecloth (muslin) or both and tie it with kitchen twine. Just make sure it's wrapped tight. The dough may stick to your cheesecloth without a barrier, so you might want to try fresh herbs around the outside to help prevent that.
Cook it the wrapped dough in your Instant Pot on manual setting for 1 1/2 hours or steam for the same amount of time on the stove. If steaming on the stove, keep an eye on your water level and rotate your dough about every 20-30 minutes.
Once done steaming, let the beaf come to room temperature, then store it (still wrapped) in the fridge for about 6-8 hours, or overnight. You can even leave it in the fridge for a few days and the texture will continue to firm up.
Once rested, cut and rip your beaf into bite-sized chunks. I wound up with about 50 pieces.
Put the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on a plate. Stir until generally mixed (I used a fork to spread it around the plate) and dredge the pieces of "beef" in the mixture. Reserve whatever flour mixture is left on the plate for thickening the stew later.
In a 5-quart pot, heat about 1/3 of the 1/3 cup of oil over medium/high heat.
Working in batches, fry the chunks on all sides until just browned, about a 30 seconds on each side. Add the rest of the oil to keep the pan coated as you need. Set fried seitan chunks aside.
Assuming you have no oil left in the pot, get another 1T of oil (I used olive oil for this step) heated up.
Add the chopped onions and cook until they begin to get translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
Then add the 1 cup of wine, 4 stalks of celery, porcini mushroom powder, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf and bring it up to a boil, letting the mixture begin to reduce for about 5 minutes.
Next goes in the 4 cups of broth and the carrots. Give it about another 5 minutes as it should all come up to a boil.
Reduce heat to a simmer and add the potatoes. Cook everything until the potatoes become fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
Scoop about 3 tablespoons of the flour mixture off the plate from earlier into a small cup or bowl. Add about 3 tablespoons (or an equal amount of water) to the flour mix and stir together (I used a fork) until smooth to make a slurry. Then add it to the stew and continue to simmer until it thickens up, about another 5 minutes.
Finally, add in the seitan and cook everything together for about 5 more minutes, or until the seitan is heated through. Enjoy!