Challenge: Vegan Fried Chicken

_MG_7898 The Challenge:  

Fried Chicken

Ben’s Requirements:

  • Thick and juicy
  • Simple and crispy coating
  • Meaty

The Plan:

An adaptation of the PPK’s Chicken Stylee Seitan. I’ve never had much luck making seitan that was truly delicious instead of just passable. It has always turned out quite water logged or way too chewy for me. This recipe was amazing. The addition of chickpea flour really made a big difference in the final texture of the fried chicken. For the coating , I decided to go with a cornmeal breading rather than batter.

The Result:

Surprisingly fantastic. The chicken cutlet was meaty and juicy without being too oddly chewy. The flavour of seitan wasn’t overpowering. The colour wasn’t super appealing as it was sort of a beige-brown, but you can’t have everything! The breading was crispy, flavourful and would lend itself really well to other spices and coatings (such as buffalo).

Ben’s Verdict:

I love these challenges. I mean, I love coming home to a beautiful dinner everyday, don’t get me wrong, but the challenges are extra special to me.  These are dishes that I have loved for a long time and usually had to cook for myself.  I just feel a bit sorry for you reading as you don’t get to eat it like I do!

Jen is very specific and particular about the details of the dish; I have to identify all the different elements from the taste to the texture and smell because being vegan of course she cannot eat the original. And she always delivers.

So this dish was exactly what I asked for. Meaty, juicy, and with a tasty coating. Perfect.  Easily as good as any bread crumbed chicken breast that I have made for myself. And even better, I could see it easily being adapted to a Wiener Shnitzel type flat escalope or a KFC style spicy coated chicken piece.  Not only has ‘Saitan’ got an excellent name, but it delivers on taste and texture too.

I would also like a quick shout about the sides to this dish too, as this is where the ‘meal’ is made. I would struggle making onion gravy and mashed potatoe as good as this without butter but these were perfect, and I hope Jen releases her secrets on this soon too.

I ate at least three servings worth of this dish. If you have a hungry meat eating male in your life and if you make this, then I can guarantee that he will do the same.

Meateater tested Vegan approved

 

 

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Need I say more?

Challenge: Fried Chicken
 
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Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 TBSP vegan worcestershire
  • 2 cups vital wheat gluten
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 1¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 TBSP vegan worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 cup plain soy milk
  • 1 TBSP white vinegar
  • ¾ plain flour
  • ¾ cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Fill a large pot with the broth, garlic and bay leaves, cover and bring to a boil.
  2. While it's heating, mix together the vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, spices and chickpea flour and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Make a well in the center and add broth, soy sauce, and, olive oil.
  4. Knead for 3-5 minutes. It will become quite tough, but keep going. The end product will be so much better for it.
  5. Divide into 8 even pieces.
  6. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Stretch each piece into a cutlet, pressing the cutlet into the counter to smooth the surface.
  8. Once your broth is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer.
  9. Add the gluten pieces and partially cover pot so that steam can escape.
  10. Let simmer (try not to let it boil at all) for 45 minutes, turning occasionally.
  11. The cutlets will almost double in size during cooking, so keep that in mind when choosing a pot size.
  12. Once done, remove seitan and allow to cool.
  13. While cooling, prepare your breading.
  14. Mix soy milk and vinegar together in a shallow bowl, allow to sit.
  15. Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic and paprika in another bowl.
  16. Heat oil up in a pot. There should about 2 inches of oil in the bottom of the pot. You'll know it's done when you insert the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and little bubbles form around instantly. Oil should not be smoking.
  17. While oil is heating up, take cooled seitan pieces and coat in soy milk mixture and then dredge in the flour mixture until well coated.
  18. Place coated seitan pieces 2 at a time (depending on the size of your pot) in the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes of each side until golden brown.
  19. Serve!

 

Soup & Bread Sunday: Chickpea Rice Soup

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Truth be told I’m not particularly trendy. (Shock and Awe!)

It took me 5 years to jump on the Facebook bandwagon, just in time for all my friends to get bored of it and to close their accounts. I only got a Twitter account recently and I’m still not sure I understand the point of it, or how to use it (am I the only one who feels like I’m standing in a corner of cyberspace talking to a virtual wall?). I held on to my VCR for years after they stopped making VHS tapes and I may or may not have a laser disk player and dozens of disks currently sitting under my TV.

I don’t tend to pay much attention to fashion trends either. Especially these days when pleated front pants and GIANT glasses have become cool. Now, I’m not hating on the hipsters here- I know they get enough of that without me- I’m just saying that I had both of those things in the 90s and let me be the first to point out that I was in no way fashionable. Since I appear to have been 20 years avant-garde, then I’m going to predict that having a mushroom-cut perm and braces will be the next trend. You heard it here first!

I like to think of my style as classic (jeans are classic, right?). Likewise, I think food should be comfortable, timeless and enjoyable.

Although food trends can be fun, they tend to get way over done. For example, in this smallish city of around 1,000,000 people, there are no less than 10 cupcake shops. And this past year saw people putting fleur de sel on everything from appetizers to desserts. I’m interested to see the number of people who were also, coincidentally, put on blood pressure medication this year.

I have done my utmost so far to avoid cupcakes, macarons, and cronuts and in an effort to stay true to myself, today’s recipe will be no different. There will be no future trend predictions; there will be no cutting edge baking. No, we’ll save that for someone wearing comedy glasses and jeggings. Instead, this recipe is for something as nerdy and wholesome as I was in 1994.

Chickpea noodle soup.

It ain’t pretty, but it is comfortable, inviting, and incredibly untrendy.

Chickpea Rice Soup
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 cups good quality vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of cooked long grain brown rice (white or brown)
  • 2 cups (or 1 15oz can) cooked chickpeas
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 2-3 small waxy gold/yellow potatoes, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
  • sea salt and pepper to season
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp garlic
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • Saltine crackers to garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, saute onions, carrots and celery for 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Add chickpeas, veggie broth, potatoes, thyme, rosemary, paprika and turmeric and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.
  4. Add rice and season to taste.
  5. Serve!

 

 

Friday Night Dinners: Lentil Loaf

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When I was young I decided that I wanted to stop eating meat.  I will never forget that last piece of red meat that I ate. The quintessential Sunday Dinner- the pot roast. I remember making a big show of choking it down, being dramatic and making it seem as though I might die if I was made to finish it.

But my parents were well versed in my melodramatic ways by then and they didn’t even really bat an eyelash. And that was that. I was on the road to vegetarianism.

My mom was pretty laissez faire on the whole subject. She continued on making her regular meals of bbq chicken legs or roast meat cooked with vegetables. All she said on the subject was “You can either eat the vegetables (which had been cooked with the meat juice) or you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich”.

Needless to say, I ate a lot of sandwiches. It might sound callus but I’m quite grateful. It’s purely because of this that I learned to cook! Now, 20+ years and a few health scares later, I finally have her putting lentils in almost everything, which I consider a huge personal victory.

My dad on the other hand was a different story. You would assume that a man who hunted on a regular basis wouldn’t be too impressed with the whole thing, but he went out of his way to make vegetarian meals for me.

Still to this day, whenever I come to visit there are always lots of vegetarian recipes waiting for me for us to cook together. They both even eat vegetarian for pretty much the whole time that I’m visiting. I take it for granted sometimes, but it’s so nice.

Although I have no memory of ever having had meatloaf before, it has always seemed pretty appealing to me.

This lentil loaf is amazing. It’s got a great texture, loads of protein, fibre and keeps you full. But more importantly, it tastes incredible. It’s all American (Canadian?) comfort food at its finest.

Delicious. Comforting. Vegan.

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Lentil Loaf
 
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Delicious, hearty lentil loaf. Just like mom used to make (without the meat)
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 375 ml water
  • 1 cup (200g) green or brown lentils
  • 1 medium onion, diced fine
  • 1 cup (100g) porridge oats
  • ¾ cup meltable non-dairy cheese (I used Vegusto No Moo melty)
  • 1 TBSP ground flaxseed (linseed)
  • 3 TBSP warm water
  • ½ cup of pasta sauce of your choice
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1 TBSP vegan worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 TBSP HP sauce
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F)
  2. Prepare a loaf pan with parchment paper… or if you really want to go old school… tin foil.
  3. Bring water and a dash of salt to a boil in a saucepan.
  4. Add lentils and simmer, covered, 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft and water is evaporated.
  5. Drain lentils if any water is remaining and lightly mash lentils with a fork.
  6. Mix flax and 3 TBSP of water together in a bowl, let sit.
  7. Stir in onions, oats and cheese.
  8. Add flax mixture,spices, pasta sauce, worcestershire sauce and 2 TSBP of ketchup.
  9. Spread mixture into prepared loaf pan. Smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Mix HP sauce and ketchup together and spread over the top of the loaf.
  10. Bake for 40-50 minutes until edges look dry, firm and golden brown.
  11. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan.
  12. Run a sharp knife around edges of the pan, slice and serve.
  13. This is also amazing the next day!