Vegan “Ribs”

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Remember a couple weeks back, when I shared my recipe for coconut cornbread and said that I would be making that for my brother’s birthday along with something else? Well, this was that something else, and this something else stole the whole damn show.

My brother loves all things meaty so I knew that a mock meat would be the perfect thing to pair with my coconut cornbread. I decided to do “ribs” even though I hadn’t eaten a rib a day in my life -nor had I ever cooked ribs (or “ribs”). As I stood in my hot kitchen, working my butt off to give my brother an amazing birthday meal, I started to worry that my mock meat selection may have been a bit of a stretch for me. However, all of my worry turned out to be totally misplaced. #AsUsual

My brother loved these so much that he was literally speechless because he wouldn’t stop shoveling them into his mouth. When he finally took a breather, he told me that this may just be his new favorite dish of mine. That means a lot coming from a man who would probably sell a kidney if he thought it would get him some more of my tofu scramble. My brother wasn’t the only one who loved these though. My mom, who isn’t the biggest fan of vegan “meats,” proclaimed that this was the best vegan “meat” that I had ever made.

So now you’re probably curious what my secret is, right? Because surely there must be some great big secret to these “ribs” that makes them so rant worthy. Well, folks, there is no great big secret. There isn’t even a great little secret. This is really just a basic seitan recipe combined with store-bought barbecue sauce. I kid you not. It all begins with the making of the seitan and, real quickly for those of you who aren’t familiar with what seitan is, seitan is just a fancy name for any mock meat made of vital wheat gluten.

In a large bowl, the vital wheat gluten gets combined with some seasonings. Once that has all been whisked together, water and low-sodium tamari get added and the whole thing gets worked by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for the “worked by hand” part of this operation.)

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The mixture is then plopped down onto a well greased sheet pan and pressed out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Next, the pan goes into a preheated oven for 30 minutes.

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When the seitan comes out of the oven it will likely be puffed a little -this is totes normal so don’t panic. Grab another pan and carefully (because we’re dealing with hot stuff here) press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Now let the seitan cool for about 5 minutes so that you can handle it with ease.

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After 5 minutes, cut the whole thing into 6 pieces and get a lightly oiled grill pan preheated to low-medium heat. (If you didn’t want to grill these up inside you could take them outside and use an actual grill but, with an average temperature of over 100 degrees here in Phoenix during this time of year, I opted to stay inside.)

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Using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite store-bought (or homemade) barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into the preheated grill pan, sauce side down, then repeat this step until your pan is full but not overly crowded -my pan comfortably fit 2 pieces at a time. Cook this first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.

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When done, remove the seitan pieces from the pan, cut each piece into strips or “ribs,” and then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done then enjoy your cruelty-free “ribs.”

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Vegan 'Ribs'

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the vital wheat gluten together with the salt, smoked paprika, chili powder, black pepper, and ground cloves. Add in the water and tamari then work by hand to create a spongy, dough-like mixture. (I like using food-safe gloves for this part.)
  2. Plop the mixture down onto a well-greased sheet pan and press it out to create a large, rectangular-ish shape. Place the pan into your preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove pan from oven -seitan may be puffed a little and, if it is, just grab another pan and carefully press the seitan so that the puffed parts go flat. Let the seitan rest for 5-10 minutes.
  3. When cool enough to handle, cut seitan into 6 pieces. Preheat a lightly oiled grill pan to low-medium heat then, using a silicone basting brush, brush some of your favorite barbecue sauce onto one side of a seitan piece. Place the piece into grill pan with the sauce side down then repeat this step until your pan is full but not crowded. Cook on first side for 3 minutes then brush barbecue sauce onto the bare tops of the pieces and flip them over with a spatula to cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. When done, remove seitan pieces from pan, cut each piece into about 1 inch wide strips or “ribs,” then brush on a final, generous slather of barbecue sauce. Repeat these final steps until all 6 of your seitan pieces are done. “Ribs” will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Vegan “Buttermilk” Fried “Chicken”

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In case you weren’t aware, writing recipes is quite the process indeed. Throughout said process, I’ll oftentimes end up with a sheet of paper that frankly looks as though someone who was possessed (and had a pen) got their hands on it. Now, I can only really focus on so many recipes at a time so most of the these chicken scratch papers end up getting tossed into a big ol’ pile waiting for their day to be perfected and shared with all y’all. Well, the other day, one recipe that’s been sitting in that pile since I started my blog finally got it’s day to shine.

When I hit the 10 pounds lost mark last weekend, I decided that I was going to give myself a cheat day and there was only one thing on my mind: fried “chicken.” This recipe, like I said a minute ago, had been in the pile o’ recipes since I started this blog in January. It just kept getting left behind in favor of other recipes which were a little less daunting. I mean, homemade vegan “meats” of any kind are serious business -fake meats have got to deliver. Despite my consternation though, I so desperately wanted to get it done for my cheat day so I got busy tweaking the recipe to perfection. A few batches later I had done it and was able to eat what I was craving for my cheat day. #DeliciousDeliciousSuccess

My fried “chicken” recipe is very traditional. You have your “chicken” pieces (made mostly of textured vegetable protein and vital wheat gluten for comparable protein values to actual chicken), a buttermilk-esque bath, and then a dredge (flour with salt, pepper, and just 2 other seasonings). Once coated, each piece is fried then finished off in the oven. The end result is something that has a nice meaty mouth feel and is perfectly seasoned. I could definitely see (if I wasn’t dieting) pairing up these fried little lovelies with my white gravy, biscuits, and mac-n-cheese for a picnic, or with waffles. #Drooling

It all gets started with some prep. The textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is going to get plumped up with a little vegetable stock so that it’s ready for us in a moment when we make our “chicken.”

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We also need to prep the buttermilk-esque bath as well as the dredge. The buttermilk-esque bath is simply a combination of unsweetened almond milk and vinegar -use either normal vinegar for this or white wine vinegar. The dredge is all-purpose flour with some salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder mixed in. Whip up the bath and the dredge each in their own bowl then set them aside for a moment so that we can make our “chicken” mixture.

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For the “chicken” mixture, stir the TVP, vital wheat gluten, and seasonings together just until combined. You’ll want to make sure that you’re not overworking this mixture otherwise your “chicken” will be a little tough and chewy and ain’t nobody got time for tough and chewy “chicken.” Let this mixture to rest for a moment to allow the gluten to properly set.

Now would be a great time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and prep a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. You will also want to get a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) ready by adding enough oil to shallow fry -about a half of an inch. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces.

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Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour dredge to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 (of 8 total) pieces -I’ll explain this in just a second.

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Before you gently place your pieces into the frying pan using a fork, test that the oil is at the correct temperature by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then the oil is ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little.

Once the oil is ready you may begin frying. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepped earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.

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Once all of the pieces have been fried and are on the prepped sheet pan, bake them for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) then serve immediately for the best eating experience.

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Vegan 'Buttermilk' Fried 'Chicken'

  • Servings: 8 pieces (enough for 3-4 people)
  • Time: 65 minutes
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Credit: Compassion is the Secret Ingredient, http://www.citsiblog.com

Ingredients

  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) + 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk + 2 teaspoons vinegar (normal or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour + 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • oil for frying (canola oil works great)

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine TVP with vegetable broth, stir then set aside. In another small bowl, combine almond milk with vinegar, stir then set aside. In 1 more small bowl, combine flour with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, stir then set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the re-hydrated TVP with the vital wheat gluten and 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder to create the “chicken” mixture. Stir mixture with a fork just until combined. Allow mixture to rest for about 3 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a small sheet pan by lining it with parchment paper. Prepare a frying pan (cast iron is best for heat retention) by filling it with enough oil to shallow fry -about half an inch of oil. Get the oil heating up to about medium heat (low to mid 300s). While the oil is heating up you can start forming your “chicken” pieces. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out some of your “chicken” mixture and plop it down into your hand. Using your fingers and palms, press and work the piece just for a moment to compact it and form it into a flattened ball about an inch and a half thick. Dip the piece into the almond milk mixture we made earlier, making sure it’s been nicely coated with the liquid, then roll it in the flour mixture we made earlier to cover the piece entirely. Repeat to make the first 4 pieces -we will only be frying 4 pieces at a time so no need to make all 8 pieces at the moment.
  4. By now the oil in your frying pan should be at the correct temperature but test the oil to be sure by dropping in a pinch of of your plain “chicken” mixture. If it begins to bubble and sizzle immediately, without quickly fading, then it’s ready. If it doesn’t do any of that then you’ll need to turn the heat up just a little before placing your “chicken” pieces in. Once the oil is ready you may begin frying by gently placing your “chicken” pieces down into the oil using a fork or spider skimmer. Place no more than 4 pieces into the oil at a time so as to not crowd the pan. Fry each piece for about 5 minutes on each side then, when done, place onto the sheet pan you prepared earlier. Repeat the scooping, forming, dipping, dredging, and frying process until no “chicken” mixture remains.
  5. When all of your “chicken” pieces have been fried and are on the sheet pan, place the sheet pan into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the pieces over at the halfway point. When done, let the pieces cool for 5 minutes (off the pan) and then serve immediately for the best eating experience. Any uneaten pieces can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. To reheat, preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 3-5 minutes -just until warmed throughout.