October 9th, 2009

Seitan Roast "Beast" redux

Canadian Thanksgiving is this weekend, and it's coming up for our American counterparts next month. Veg-heads are often left without a real 'centrepiece' dish for this (and other) holiday feast so I've decided to post my two favourite stand-bys. Don't get me wrong, the Tofurky feast is great if you've got somewhere you can buy it and you don't want to spend a bunch of time preparing your own; but some people just don't like it, or it doesn't make enough for your whole family, or you want the actual taste and experience of a truly amazing homecooked meal. This recipe, and the Tempeh Wellington I'll post next, will fit the bill nicely.

Vegan Roast “Beast”

3 cups gluten flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup finely ground walnuts or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
¼ cup tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tbsp each basil and paprika

3 cups water or vegetable stock
½ cup soy sauce or braggs liquid aminos
2 tbsp prepared horseradish or Dijon mustard

10 cups water
¾ cup soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos
2 onions, sliced
2 bay leaves

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet. Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, or bread machine on the dough setting, knead for 10 – 15 minutes. Let rest for 30 minutes, then knead again for 10 minutes. While kneading, place all broth ingredients in a large pot with a lid. If you want to simmer this overnight in a crockpot/slowcooker, bring the broth to a full boil. If you are going to be cooking this on the stovetop, don’t turn the heat on the broth until you’ve added the seitan roast.

After kneading, place the entire lump of seitan into a large double-layered square of cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth up tight around the lump and tie it, tightly, with kitchen twine. Submerge this in the broth. If cooking on the stovetop, bring to a full boil, then turn the heat as low as it will go while keeping the seitan simmering. If you cooking in a crockpot, pour the boiling broth into the crock and set the temperature to medium. Cook the roast, covered, for at least 6 hours; the longer the better. My favourite seitan roast is simmered a full 24 hours. Just remember to check the broth levels occasionally and top up with more water if necessary.

Serves 8 - 10. You can cut this recipe in half, and halve the cooking time, if you want.

This comes out very much like roast beef; the longer you simmer it, the more meat-like the texture becomes and the darker it will be. So serve it with all the trimmings: mashed potatoes, roasted carrots and onions, gravy, brussel sprouts, etc. And prepare for the traditional food coma-like nap after this meal, too...just cuz yr a veg'head doesn't mean you get off the hook for that.

Vegan Tempeh Wellington

Let's pretend we are snobby British food critics and flare our nostrils while we eat this!

Tempeh Wellington

There are traditionally four parts to a truly excellent Wellington – the pastry, the meat (in this case, tempeh), the paté, and the duxelle (a mushroom paste). This is not a dish for the lazy or hurried cook. You can and should prepare the pate and duxelle a day or two in advance to make the preparation that much easier on the actual day of serving.

I always buy my pastry frozen. If you are truly adventurous you can try your hand at making your own puff pastry but there are several varieties sold, ready to use, in the freezer section of the grocery store that it almost seems like a special kind of punishment to do it the handmade way. I’ve even seen organic varieties for sale in the health food store, so if you’re concerned about that, a trip to your local natural grocer is in order.

First, bake a recipe of sunflower pate and cool. You can find a recipe on VeganMania.com Alternately, you can buy a pre-made veggie pate, or make one of your own favourite recipes. There are some very nice ones out there.

Next, prepare the duxelle.

2 tbsp Earth Balance
½ lb (220 g) of mushrooms, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
3 tablespoons of non-dairy cream (Belsoy is a good brand, or any homemade thick nut milk; just don’t want anything that’s been sweetened)
salt and pepper
a handful of fresh parsley

Melt the Earth Balance in a skillet and add the onion. Saute until it’s almost translucent, then add the minced mushrooms. Saute, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until thickened. Add the parsley, remove from heat, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Next, prepare your tempeh.

2 lbs tempeh, cut into chunks
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Place tempeh into a steamer basket and steam for 15 minutes over high heat. Let cool enough to handle, then transfer to a bowl and mash with the soy sauce and yeast. Shape into log about 2.5” high and 4-6” long. If it won’t stick together add a little bit of water and mix until it does.

Roll out your pastry to about 3mm thick. Spread a stripe of your prepared pate down the centre of the pastry. Spread the duxelle over the paté. Add the tempeh log and press down slightly. Bring the edges of the pastry up and around the tempeh and pinch them to close it tightly. If there is a lot of excess pastry cut it away. Invert the package onto and oiled baking tray. Preheat the oven to 450. Add the Wellington and bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375 and bake an additional 25 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

This is very nice served drizzled with a thin gravy or ‘au jus’. Take ¾ cup of red wine, 2/3 cup water, 2 tbsp soy sauce and simmer on medium-low heat until reduced by about half. Stir in a tbsp of Earth Balance, and season with pepper.

Serves 6 – 8.