June 15, 2012 by jenniebean10
When considering eating at restaurants in Gettysburg, it is tough being a vegetarian. There’s lots of pub food around, and there’s no difficulty getting starchy foods, but my options seem limited to salads and veggie burgers when I want to order an entrée. Not too many veggie-friendly places around here, and (unsurprisingly) I’ve never seen tempeh or seitan on a menu anywhere nearby, and I’ve only seen tofu at the Thai and Chinese places. This isn’t a problem, though, because I love to cook. Do you know what seitan is? It’s basically meat made out of gluten flour, and you can do all kinds of stuff to flavor it and make it taste like different things. It has more protein, less fat, and just as few carbohydrates as tofu. Unlike tofu, it’s easy to make yourself, and doesn’t need sauce to be flavorful! I went to a vegan restaurant in Chicago called Native Foods Café, and they had mock taco meat, chili, chicken & chicken wings, bacon, you name it. They even had a Reuben sandwich, which was incredibly delicious. Seitan is kind of amazing, especially for vegetarians, but not people with a gluten intolerance obviously. It’s not something I eat very often, because I usually buy it in the form of sausages and it’s quite expensive ($6 for a package of 4). One of my favorites, though, is the Field Roast brand of grain meat sausages — particularly the smoked sage apple sausage links. I like to sauté peppers and onions, slice these sausages, brown them up, and toss them in a pasta salad with fig or cherry balsamic vinaigrette. Best meal ever.
OK, back to being vegetarian in a rural town in Pennsylvania…Earlier this year, I became fast friends with Célia, the absolutely amazing native speaker French instructor at the college. Imagine my delight when I discovered that she loved to cook, and moreover, liked to cook vegetarian meals! Back in the winter, she made some crêpes with a yummy béchamel, and she said she used seitan broth for the béchamel. In March, Célia taught me how to make this “seitan poulet,” or chicken-flavored seitan, and we had a FEAST:
She had a recipe in French for the chicken seitan, and helped me translate it into English so that I could make it again.
For 600g of “chicken”: For the bouillon:
130 g gluten flour (about 1 c) 1.5 l water (6 c)
50 g almond meal (about 1/2 c) 1 T soy sauce
40 g rice flour (about 1/4 c + 2 T) 1 large onion, quartered
50 g nutritional yeast (about 1 c) + 1/4 c for breading 4 bay leaves
150 ml water + 50 ml almond milk 1 sprig of thyme (optional)
3 T olive oil
Prepare the broth in a large stock pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and let simmer. Prepare the seitan while the broth warms up.
Place 1/4 c of nutritional yeast on a plate and set aside. Mix the gluten flour, almond meal, rice flour, nutritional yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add water and almond milk, and mix together with a wooden spoon or your hands just to incorporate. Let rest for 15 minutes.
Knead the dough a little bit, for one or two minutes, and begin shaping it into one or two long sausage-like shapes. Roll the sausages in nutritional yeast before you cut them into thin slices with kitchen scissors. (Try to slice it thin because it plumps up a LOT in the broth.) Dip the slices in the nutritional yeast, covering them so they are no longer sticky. Place the sliced seitan into the simmering broth, cover, and simmer (do not boil) on low heat for 35 minutes. Leave the seitan in the broth for about an hour to cool down. It is best to leave it in the broth in the refrigerator overnight so it can develop more flavor, but Célia and I found that it’s fine to eat it the same night you make it 🙂
Now how can you incorporate the seitan into a meal? However you want! When you want to eat it, just put some olive oil in a pan and brown it/sear both sides so it gets nice and crispy on the outside. It’s wonderful on top of salads, it’s great with some sautéed vegetables and spices, makes for a nice fajita filling, and you can even just heat it up in some broth and have it as soup. Make sure to save the seitan broth for later and use it! I made a really great split pea soup with the broth, which I’ll post a recipe for later.