Hearty, comforting and filling, this vegetable Guinness stew served in soda bread rolls from Jackie Kearney's brand new vegan cookbook is a perfect dinner to try on World Vegan Day.
Bunny Chow hails from South Africa, and was usually some kind of loaf or roll, hollowed out and filled with a spiced stew or dal. This is an Irish version of that, taking its name from the Blasket islands off the coast of County Kerry. Making soda bread is supposed to be the easiest of bread recipes, but you can always cheat and buy one. It’s all about the stew really.
Blasket Bunny - Crusty soda bread filled with vegetable Guinness Stew
For the Soda Bread
800 g/6 cups wholemeal/ whole-wheat flour
1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda/ baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons fine rock salt
3 teaspoons lemon juice
750 ml/3 cups almond milk
handful of coarse polenta/cornmeal, for sprinkling
For the Stew
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
4 small white onions, 2 finely chopped and 2 sliced
500 g/1 lb. 2 oz. chestnut or button mushrooms, cleaned and halved
1 tablespoon plain/ all-purpose flour
600 ml/2 ½ cups Guinness
400 g/14 oz. waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5-cm/1-inch chunks
2 large carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
2 turnips, peeled and diced into 2.5-cm/
1-inch chunks ½ small swede/rutabaga, peeled and diced into
½ teaspoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon yeast extract or ½ tablespoon tomato puree/paste
2 tablespoons good quality vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1–2 teaspoons salt, to taste
handful of freshly chopped thyme, to serve
1 baking sheet, lightly oiled
Preheat the oven to 200ºC (400ºF) Gas 6.
Add a tablespoon of polenta/cornmeal to the oiled baking sheet and shake it until it is well covered.
To prepare the soda bread, place the flour in a large bowl, add the bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and salt, then mix well. In a jug/pitcher, combine the lemon juice and almond milk. Pour the liquid into the flour and gently knead together for no more than a minute or two to make a soft dough. Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each to form a small ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet and cut a cross into the top of each ball, about 1 cm/3⁄8 inch deep. Bake in the preheated oven for 15–20 minutes until the soda bread is lightly browned. Tap the bottom to check the sound is hollow.
For the stew, heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pan over high heat. Add the finely chopped celery sticks, the two finely chopped onions and four of the mushrooms, finely chopped (the rest of the onions and mushrooms will be added later). Saute over medium heat until dark golden brown and well caramelized.
Add the flour to the softened mixture and mix well, cooking gently for 2–3 minutes. Pour in the Guinness and mix well, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan to make a rich roux. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for about 40–50 minutes until all the vegetables are fully cooked.
Slice the top off the cooled soda breads and scoop out the middle. Serve the vegetable stew inside the hollowed-out bread and top with the soda bread lid and a handful of freshly chopped thyme.
For more vegan recipes from around the world, check out My Vegan Travels by Jackie Kearney.